GARY | Joe Jackson returned Monday to the music club where his sons first performed professionally as The Jackson 5, recalling what it was like before the fame.
"Imagine starting from here to get to there," he said looking around the barroom of Mister Lucky's Lounge in what is now a derelict building at the corner of Grant Street and 11th Avenue. "It just feels great."
The Jackson family scion recalled the nights The Jackson 5 played up to five sets a night at Mister Lucky's, when Michael was just 7 years old, belting out hits by James Brown, The Temptations and their own "I'm a Big Boy Now."
"You work hard to prepare for this type of thing," said the man who rehearsed and managed The Jackson 5 to fame. "And when they get a chance to perform you feel like you did a good job. Especially when people like it."
Jackson was at the one-story brick building, which closed as a music lounge not many years ago, to knock out the ceremonial first brick from its northeast corner. The brick is now on sale with thousands of others by Mister Lucky's Lounge LLC, owners of the building.
The company has established a website at www.misterluckyslounge.com, where it is marketing the commemorative stamped bricks, T-shirts and other garb. A "Diamond Package" of all of that and more goes for $250.
"As far as Michael Jackson and the historical music scene in Gary, there has been nothing offered to the public before," said John Rowady, one of the partners in the project.
Rowady said his group wants to use the proceeds from the sale of bricks to establish a park at the site commemorating Jackson and the Gary music scene once the building comes down. Some of proceeds from each brick also will go to the VH1 Save the Music foundation, which promotes music programs in schools.
VH1 Save the Music Foundation confirmed they have an arrangement with Mister Lucky's Lounge to share in some of the brick proceeds.
Mayor Rudy Clay accompanied Joe Jackson on Monday, the mayor reminiscing about how he had taken in The Jackson 5's act at the lounge.
"We've had some great entertainers in Gary and The Jackson 5 were the greatest," Clay said.
In his autobiography "Moonwalk," Jackson fondly recalled his first gigs at Mr. Lucky's.
"Being at Mr. Lucky's meant for the first time we had a whole show to do -- five sets a night, six nights a week," Jackson wrote.
Devotees of the King of Pop have been trekking to Gary from all over the world since he died June 25, 2009, at his Los Angeles home. Mainly, fans come to see his restored boyhood home on Jackson Street. When Michael was 8, the family left for Detroit after Joe Jackson landed The Jackson 5 a contract with Motown Records.