Of all the legendary American musical families — the Osmonds, the Judds, the Bacon Brothers — none is more captivating than the Jacksons. Their improbable history is literally the stuff of tabloids. And while we know much — perhaps too much — about Michael (his latest, ”Invincible,” is out on Oct. 30), Janet (she just canceled her European tour), and La Toya (who still has a career, someplace), there are six other siblings whose whereabouts are largely unknown — at least until the next reunion concert. But it turns out that catching up with them online is easy as A-B-C.
JACKIE At age 50, the eldest brother no longer plays the shakers, but still makes music as head of Futurist Entertainment. The company’s website includes the official homepage of the Jackson 5, which is mostly under wraps. But it will soon feature reports from inside the family’s cross-country bus ride, their only route home after the recent New York reunion gig and Sept. 11 attacks.
JERMAINE Despite those six top 20 hits in the 1980s, first on Motown and then for Arista, Jermaine, 46, hasn’t had much success with his own label, Work Records. The Web offers very few details on Jermaine’s questionable past (as detailed in his ex’s 1995 tell-all ”Jackson Family Values”). But this interview about his conversion to Islam in 1989, in which he describes the prejudices encountered on returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca, has a new currency.
TITO The Jackson musical family tree grows on, thanks mainly to 48-year-old Tito. His sons — Taj, Taryll, and TJ — formed the 3T’s in the mid-1980s. In 1995, just one year after their mother was murdered, the trio released the first of three albums. Their fourth, which is apparently on hold since the group decided to leave Sony Music, is due out ”sometime this year,” according to their official site.
MARLON Despite a No. 2 solo hit (”Don’t Go”) in 1987, 44-year-old Marlon’s singing is just background music now that he’s president of the goofily named Major Broadcasting Cable Network. Unfortunately, the website’s claim that MBCN airs reruns of the 1971 animated Jackson 5ive series turns out to be false.
RANDY The youngest brother, he replaced Jermaine in 1976, and formed his own band — Randy & the Gypsys — in 1989. After his conviction for domestic abuse in 1991, the 40-year-old singer faded from view. But the Jacksonflava website offers a delicious tribute to him and his kin.
REBBIE The eldest of the nine, Rebbie, 51, was a late bloomer. She appeared on CBS’ variety show ”The Jacksons” in 1976. And in 1984, she charted with brother Michael’s songwriting help. Her most recent project? Singing backup on the 1998 Brand Nubian single ”Let’s Dance.”
Judging from the recent reunion dustups, the sibling rivalries that started on 2300 Jackson Street, the family’s Gary, Ind., home, haven’t subsided entirely. But at least on the Web they can all still live together in harmony.