Valpo resident who named Jackson Five recalls time with Michael

2009-06-28T00:00:00Z Valpo resident who named Jackson Five recalls time with MichaelMelissa Deavers
June 28, 2009 12:00 am  • 

Since Michael Jackson's death on Thursday, many people have been sharing stories of their encounters with him or the Jackson Five. However, only one person, Valparaiso resident Evelyn LaHaie, can say she was the mastermind behind the group's name.

LaHaie recalls memories of a 6-year-old Michael Jackson, the youngest member of a group called the Jackson Brothers. That year, an advertisement in a local newspaper caught Michael's father's attention. The advertisement was a call-out to musical groups to perform at a fashion show for a local modeling school. Joe Jackson decided he would take his sons to the audition.

MORE: Follow our coverage on the death of Michael Jackson.

LaHaie, who owned the school and placed the advertisement, had more than 200 groups audition for the one-time performance. She recalls the Jackson Brothers showed real talent and potential, so LaHaie booked them to perform at the fashion show at The Big Top department store in Gary.

However, LaHaie saw a problem with the group's name, the Jackson Brothers.

"So many groups at the time had names that ended in 'Brothers' or 'Sisters,'" LaHaie said.

"It was too common. I knew that they should have something different."

LaHaie said the Jackson Five was the first name that came to her, and Joe agreed to change it.

The group performed at the fashion show as the Jackson Five, a name that stuck until Michael Jackson left to continue his solo career.

LaHaie said that she set the group up with one more performance at a Dyer hospital before they moved on with some of Joe Jackson's other contacts in the music industry.

LaHaie has been mentioned in a variety of publications, including music magazines and Michael Jackson's official "authorized" 1991 published biography "Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness," in which Joe credits LaHaie as having named the Jackson Five. LaHaie saved many of those magazine articles and keeps them in her home.

Alongside the articles are photos of her and Michael Jackson, the group's fashion show audition papers -- which survived a fire at LaHaie's beauty school -- and even a Christmas card from the Jackson family.

The news of Michael Jackson's death prompted LaHaie to sort through her pieces of memorabilia.

"I cried all afternoon Thursday," LaHaie said. "He will live on forever through his music."

LaHaie tries to focus on the positive memories she has of Michael Jackson. She loved watching him perform and knew that he would go on to be a star, even though he was only 6 years old when they met.

"I knew Michael just stood out. All of the brothers were talented, but Michael was magical," LaHaie said.

LaHaie's final memory of Michael Jackson was his 2003 performance at Gary Roosevelt High School, which she made sure to attend.

Before Michael Jackson went on stage, LaHaie was able to talk to him for just a moment and take a picture with him. She has been carrying the photo with her since Thursday.

"I was so touched he would take the time to talk to me and take a picture right before he went on stage," LaHaie said.

Until the sadness subsides, while the rest of the world has his music, LaHaie has her treasured keepsakes and memories of that special 6-year-old who was so excited about the career and future of fame that awaited.

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