Hailing out of Gary, Indiana, Maureen Reillette Jackson was born in 1950 as the daughter of Joe Jackson, the patriarchal father of one of the most famous musical families ever known in the entertainment industry, the Jacksons. She was the eldest of the ten children, which included the infamous Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael Jackson of the Jackson Five fame, as well as La Toya Jackson, Randy Jackson and Janet Jackson. There is also Brandon, another brother, but he died shortly after he was born. For Maureen, who was nicknamed Rebbie, because she was the oldest among the Jackson siblings, she served as a second mother in a household that followed the religion known as Jehovah’s Witness. Like her mother, Katherine, Rebbie has been a devout follower, as had La Toya Jackson and Michael Jackson became as the two got older.
In 1974, Rebbie Jackson began her entertainment career at the age of twenty-four years old. She performed alongside her siblings out of Las Vegas, Nevada, where her brothers performed as the Jackson Five as it was they who were the official stars. Rebbie, Randy, LaToya, and Janet served as fillers until 1976 when the five brothers, plus Randy, left Motown and then became known as The Jacksons. When the Jackson Five first started, little brother Randy was only two years old. Now old enough to perform with his brothers, the name was changed to The Jacksons. As The Jacksons, not only did they now sign to CBS Records but also starred in the CBS variety series titled after the family’s name. The series featured every member of the Jackson family except for Jermaine, as he opted to stick with Motown. As successful as the series had been, as well as becoming the first African-American family to star in a television series at that time, Rebbie personally felt her singing was more of a hobby until she experienced a taste of television.
In 1984, the first of Rebbie Jackson’s studio albums were released. Centipede came about two years after Columbia Records had signed her up as a solo artist. While Rebbie may not have shared the same brilliant spotlight as her iconic younger brother, Michael, she still earned a loyal fan following in her own right. When Michael Jackson died from cardiac arrest in 2009, both the fans and the media suspected Rebbie would become the primary caregiver of his three children. Although the matriarch, Katherine, was granted custody as their legal guardian, it has been Rebbie that once again assumed the role of secondary mother to look after Prince, Paris, and Blanket.
Rebbie Jackson has recorded and released a total of four studio albums where the first three were with CBS Records and the fourth with MJJ Productions. On October 10, 1984, Centipede served as Rebbie’s debut album, which was then followed by the October 7, 1986 release of Reaction. R U Tuff Enuff was the third and final album Rebbie Jackson recorded with CBS Records, which was released on February 1, 1988. Of all the albums she’s produced, it was her third that earned the best commercial success as it sold over 300,000 copies. After this, she took a break from the entertainment industry before returning to record Yours Faithfully, which was released on March 31, 1998.
Rebbie Jackson also has eight singles to her credit that have seen each of them earn chart success on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Rebbie Jackson also has a compilation album, The Rebbie Jackson Collection, which was issued just two years before she released her comeback album, Yours Faithfully.
Top 10 Rebbie Jackson Songs
#10 – Play Me (I’m a Jukebox)
From Rebbie Jackson’s debut album, Centipede, “Play Me (I’m a Jukebox)” was a song that was originally written by country star, Pam Tillis. Performed as a funky R&B song, it served as a promotional piece for Rebbie Jackson as she was making her debut as a solo artist. She was thirty-four years old at the time and was the last of the infamous Jackson siblings to embark on a solo career as she focused on raising her children first. It wasn’t until 1984 before Rebbie made her solo debut and despite receiving tremendous support from her younger brother, Michael, it was a year he had already achieved superstardom and had nearly impossible shoes to fill at that time.
Although it was never Rebbie’s intent to steal the spotlight from any of her siblings, she was often overshadowed by their edgier performances, as well as some of the scandals they were embroiled in. Play Me could have been one of those singles to achieve chart success, as it is one of Rebbie Jackson’s better song performances, but it was released at a time when too many fans were paying more attention to bigger names, including Michael. Since Play Me’s original release, there have been a few remixed versions of it that had made appearances in dance clubs, but that’s as far as it went at the time.
#9 – I Feel For You
Originally recorded and released by Prince in 1979 for his debut album, “I Feel For You” was a song Rebbie Jackson performed as a solo artist that has become one of the tracks for her debut album. While neither Prince nor Rebbie Jackson made it a number one hit like Chaka Khan did in 1984, it’s still a good, contemporary R&B song performance that deserves mention as among Jackson’s best as well. Where Khan made it a rap-style favorite, Jackson made I Feel For You a classic, Motown-style piece for music fans that preferred a softer version to this R&B song.
#8 – R U Tuff Enuff (featuring Grandmaster Melle Mel)
The title track from Rebbie Jackson’s third studio album was “R U Tuff Enuff,” which appeared on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at number seventy-eight when it was released in 1988. With Grandmaster Melle Mel’s rapping talent featured with Rebbie Jackson’s own vocals, this harder-edged R&B single illustrated a street-tough piece that stood itself apart from the softer melodics Jackson is better known for. Although R U Tuff Enuff didn’t earn much chart success, it did contribute to the overall popularity of the album among the fans, despite the negative reviews it received by the music critics.
#7 – Yours Faithfully
The final single from Rebbie Jackson’s studio recordings was the title track from her final studio album, Yours Faithfully. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and the UK Singles Chart, it ranked at number seventy-six as a moderate hit, which also served as Jackson’s swan song as a solo artist. Yours Faithfully was the only occasion Jackson realized chart success as a solo artist in the UK. There are two versions to this song, as well as two remixes.
“Yours Faithfully,” was meant to be Rebbie Jackson’s big comeback after a nine-year hiatus, which saw Michael Jackson work closely with his eldest sister. Despite somewhat favorable reviews from the critics and much promotion to hype up Rebbie’s comeback, it just wasn’t enough to win over enough appeal from the fans at that time. However, Yours Faithfully, both the title track and the album, have earned its place as among Rebbie Jackson’s best work as an R&B artist.
#6 – You Send the Rain Away (featuring Robin Zander)
The duet, “You Send the Rain Away,” featured the performances of a suave and sophisticated Rebbie Jackson with the earnest Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander in this love ballad critics favorably noted as sunny and graceful. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, “You Send the Rain Away,” climbed as high as number fifty and was considered a feature favorite by the critics from US Cashbox. This balladic love song had been edited many times over and sees a few different versions, but it was the single version that saw almost a minute’s worth of its album version removed that played on the radio airwaves when it was released in 1987 as the second single from Jackson’s second studio album, Reaction.
#5 – A Fork in the Road
“A Fork in the Road” was the second single released from Rebbie Jackson’s debut album, Centipede. In 1985, this cover ballad to the original 1965 version recorded by The Miracles climbed as high as number forty on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Already a favorite song in the R&B music scene, Jackson’s soft lyrical talent, and vocal range seemed to add a little extra soul to this cultural, moody blues favorite.
#4 – Reaction
On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, “Reaction” peaked as high as number sixteen when it was released in 1986. It was the first of two singles released from Rebbie Jackson’s second studio album, which was also titled Reaction. It also became a number fifteen hit on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. There are also extended versions and remixed versions of Rebbie’s hit single, mainly designed to accommodate various dance clubs according to style preferences. Catchy with quick beats, along with the synth-heavy instrumentation, Reaction served as one of the cult favorites during a dance era that saw wave after wave of fast-moving hit classics.
#3 – 2300 Jackson Street (featuring The Jacksons)
“2300 Jackson Street” saw the ensemble of the Jacksons, mainly featuring Michael, Janet, Rebbie, and Marlon. This title track came from The Jackson’s sixteenth studio album, which was released on May 30, 1989. The four siblings performed the single together, sharing in song form the life they experienced as children growing up in their hometown of Gary, Indiana. This autobiography-style single climbed as high as number nine on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, as well as number thirty-nine on the Dutch Singles Chart. 2300 Jackson Street also made an appearance on the UK Singles Chart at number seventy-six.
#2 – Plaything
In 1988, “Plaything” was the first single released from Rebbie Jackson’s third studio album, R U Tuff Enough. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it peaked as high as number nine. Jackson’s contralto-style vocals, which is the lowest female vocal range type, was Jackson’s signature sound that distinguished her lyrical talent from the rest of the ladies who performed in the R&B genre during the 80s. That, combined with her impressive belting range, had been instrumental to not just her own singing career, but for all her Jackson siblings when she performed with them.
#1 – Centipede (featuring Michael Jackson)
From Rebbie Jackson’s debut album, the lead single, “Centipede,” served as her signature song as a solo artist. In addition to becoming certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), it was also a number-four hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and on the Recorded Music New Zealand chart. With her younger brother, Michael Jackson, singing in the background, alongside The Weather Girls, Centipede also became Rebbie’s first and only crossover hit as it peaked as high as number twenty-four on the US Billboard Hot 100 and as high as number twenty-nine on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs. It also made a chart appearance on Australia’s Kent Report at number ninety-seven.
Top 10 Rebbie Jackson Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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