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Jacksons tour stops in Merrillville Friday

MarlJackson; Jackie Jackson; TiJackson; Jermaine Jackson

Marlon Jackson; Jackie Jackson; Tito Jackson; Jermaine Jackson

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If you go

Who: The Jacksons

Where: Star Plaza Theatre, U.S. 30 and Interstate 65, Merrillville

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $55, $65 and $80; available at the theater’s box office and through Ticketmaster, www.ticketmaster.com or (800) 745-3000

More details: www.starplazatheatre.com

Updated: June 20, 2012 10:00PM



Gary’s famous Jackson brothers are touring again, and that means they’re making a return to something that’s part of their very fiber.

The Jacksons’ Unity Tour 2012, which stops at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville on Friday, is being undertaken, however, with some bittersweet feelings.

That’s because Michael Jackson has passed on, leaving his siblings to carry on the family’s musical legacy with the help of an eagerly anticipated road show that has already hit Canada.

“It’s something that we’ve longed for and we’ve always wanted to do, and unfortunately it’s done at a time when our brother is no longer with us,” Tito Jackson said in a Wednesday phone interview. “But it’s always a pleasure to get with your brothers and perform. This is what we’ve done ever since we lived in Gary, which was many years ago.

“It’s part of our life, it’s part of our blood. It’s what we do. We feel most comfortable on stage, so it’s a great feeling.”

The Jacksons last toured together when they hit the road in support of their 1984 Victory album.

The 8 p.m. Merrillville concert will include a tribute to the “King of Pop” from brothers who performed with him as part of the Jackson 5.

“We have a segment in the show that’s going to recognize him and honor him for his contribution as a person on Earth and a brother,” said Tito, noting the salute will pay homage to Michael’s entertainment impact and “all the nice things that he’s done.”

Tito and three other siblings — Jackie, Marlon and Jermaine — are scheduled to dip into Michael’s solo material. For example, a rendition of 1979’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” is scheduled.

The Jackson brothers started racking up hits for Motown Records after leaving Gary for California in 1969.

“I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “Dancing Machine” are part of the impressive musical catalog compiled by the siblings from 2300 Jackson St. in Gary.

Michael — who fronted the Jackson 5 — died June 25, 2009, at age 50. A coroner’s report stated that his death was tied to Propofol intoxication and sedative use. Propofol is an anesthetic.

Asked if he felt there was any more he could have done to help Michael with the turmoil in his life, Tito said he yearned for a different outcome to the tragic saga.

“No matter what the circumstances and situation is, it’s a natural thing to wish that,” said Tito, noting he wishes that “things could be different, but they’re not.”

Tito said he misses Michael “every day, every moment.”

The heady ride to success for Tito and Michael began in a small house in Gary, even though the Jackson family has long been known for its West Coast lifestyle.

“I enjoyed Gary,” said Tito, a 58-year-old guitarist. “I got to play Little League right behind 2300 Jackson St., our home. It was a great time in my life.”

Known as the Jackson 5 at the outset, the group of siblings switched its name to the Jacksons in the middle of the 1970s, recording for the Epic label.

Their first hit single as the Jacksons was “Enjoy Yourself” in late 1976. It reached No. 6 on Billboard’s pop chart.

The dance-friendly “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” gave them another Top 10 smash in 1979.

Members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Jacksons are heading back to Northwest Indiana to perform in Merrillville — and the folks at the Star Plaza Theatre are feeling fortunate to have snagged the concert.

“It’s great because it’s a limited tour,” said Charlie Blum, president and chief executive officer of the 3,400-seat venue. “Every major concert facility around the country was vying to get this show.”

It will mark a coveted return to Northwest Indiana for Tito, who said his moniker is a nickname his father gave him.

Tito was born Toriano Jackson.

Whatever you call him, he is glad to be heading back to his old stomping ground for the Merrillville date.

“You get to see your friends and see where you grew up and just get a feel of your childhood again,” Tito said.



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