It all began in Gary, Indiana more than 40 years ago.
Fans are flocking to the boyhood home of Michael Jackson in Gary to lay flowers, candles and stuffed animals at the front door of the humble, one-story home at 23rd Avenue and Jackson Street.
Jackson was born in Gary in 1958, the seventh of nine children to Joseph and Katherine Jackson. In 1964, Michael and four of his brothers began performing as the Jackson 5, first performing at Mr. Lucky’s, a local nightclub. In 1967, record producer Gordon Keith auditioned the band in the Jackson home, and he said he was immediately struck by the 9-year-old Michael’s singing and dancing ability. As the band set up to play, he recalled being impressed by Michael jumping flat-footed over his brother Tito’s guitar cord.
“I’m remembering him still as the good little kid, a fresh boy,” Keith said. “You know, running up and down with a smile on his face, a super kid, really.”
Keith signed the Jackson 5 to his record label, Steeltown Records, and recorded the band’s first two singles. But in 1969, when singer Diana Ross visited Gary and saw the band perform at Roosevelt High School, local legend has it that she stole the group away from their northwest Indiana hometown.
The Jackson family moved to Encino, California when Michael was 11.
Jackson made few visits back to Gary as an adult, the last coming in 2003 when then-Mayor Scott King presented him with the key to the city.