Since 1968, the earliest commercially available Jackson 5 recording has been the “Big Boy” 45 that the band cut for Steel Town Records and released in January that year. The previous July, however, they had cut the same track for Chicago’s One-derful! Records, playing all of their own instruments at the label’s Tone Studios. Michael, then just eight years old, sang lead.
This session had been all but forgotten until 2009, when guitarist Larry Blasingaine brought it to the attention of Jake Austen, a Chicago Reader writer who was researching a story about the Steeltown release. Austen then contacted Eric D. Leaner, one of the four siblings who inherited the One-derful! masters from their dad Ernie, and Leaner began to search for the lost tape.
“Until Jake Austen called me to explain that there was potentially a missing Jackson 5 demo tape, and if we had it it would be the holy grail of Jackson recordings, we had no idea we had it in our possession,” says Leaner. “I asked my brother-in-law Herb Newkirk to see if he could find it with little hope since we had already been through the tapes. A couple of days later, he called me and said, ‘Brother-in-law, I found it!'”
Now, a 45 of the original “Big Boy” is available for the first 500 people who order the One-derful! Collection subscription, a compendium (seven CDs or 12 discs of vinyl) of soul, funk and gospel that the label released between its founding in 1962 and 1971. The entire set contains 147 tracks – 57 of which have never been issued. It will be released on October 28th via Secret Stash Recordings and can be pre-ordered here. “Big Boy,” as recorded by the Jackson 5 for One-derful! Records, can be streamed for the first time below.