Here we are at December already and this will be the third year of my musical Christmas Advent calendar. In 2009 it was cover versions and last year it was UK Christmas number ones. So what will it be this year? It will be an ABC of Motown songs and I bet you can’t guess what is under that little cardboard flap for December 1st.
Well obviously it has to be “ABC” by the Jackson 5 doesn’t it? This song was one of my favourite 45s in my then fledgling record collection in the early 70s. I’m pretty sure I bought it at the old Uxbridge market, probably in 1970 or 1971. I no longer have the vinyl but I do have it on various CDs and on my iPod too. I was a real fan of the Jackson 5 in those days and this led to me going to see them at the Wembley Empire Pool in November 1973. I had actually wanted to go and see David Bowie in May of that year but my Dad wouldn’t let me! He said that Bowie was a ‘bloody weirdo’. It’s strange how things worked out isn’t it? But my Dad and I did have a laugh about that during the long conversations that we shared in the year before he died. If there is anything after this existence I’m sure he is chuckling now.
“ABC” was the second in a run of four consecutive US number one singles starting in 1969 with “I Want You Back”. The third was “The Love You Save” and the run ended with “I’ll Be There” in 1970. “ABC” was written by ‘The Corporation’ which consisted of Motown head honcho Berry Gordy along with Freddie Perren, Alphonzo Mizell and Deke Richards. This writing team wrote the first three of this quartet of songs. “ABC” only managed the number 8 spot in the UK.
Wilton Felder, a member of the Crusaders, played bass guitar on the track. Obviously it was a very young (just 11 years old) Michael Jackson who provided the lead vocal. The first airing of the song on US TV was on the American Bandstand show which coincidentally was on the ABC network. You can see that clip below. The song is one of the shortest titles ever to reach the top of the US charts.