How did The Jackson 5 influence baby names in the early 1970s?

The Jackson Five on the cover of Jet magazine (Aug. 6, 1970)
The Jackson 5

The Jackson 5, whose “bubblegum soul” sound made them remarkably successful in the early 1970s, consisted of five musically gifted brothers out of Gary, Indiana. Their names were:

  • Sigmund Esco “Jackie” Jackson, b. 1951
  • Toriano Adaryll “Tito” Jackson, b. 1953
    • Records suggest that Tito’s first name was actually “Tariano,” but the press typically spelled it “Toriano.”
  • Jermaine LaJuane Jackson, b. 1954
  • Marlon David Jackson, b. 1957
  • Michael Joe Jackson, b. 1958

The brothers began performing together in the mid-1960s, but Jacksonmania didn’t hit until 1970, with the success of songs like “I Want You Back” (1969), “ABC” (1970), “The Love You Save” (1970), and “I’ll Be There” (1970) — all four of which hit #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.

At the height of their fame, the boys even had a Saturday morning cartoon show called “The Jackson 5ive” (1971-1972).

The animated version of the Jackson brothers in the cartoon series "The Jackson 5ive" (1971-1972).
“The Jackson 5ive”

So how did the Jacksons’ celebrity affect U.S. baby names in the early 1970s? Let’s go brother by brother…

Jackie

Jackie Jackson couldn’t stop the name Jackie from trending downward, and he didn’t do much for the unusual name Esco, but the name Sigmund did see a distinct uptick in usage in 1971.

Fun fact: Jackie dated Debraca Foxx during the early ’70s.

Tito

Tito Jackson not only popularized his nickname, Tito, but he boosted both Toriano and Adaryll into the data for the first time. In fact, Toriano was the top debut name of 1970, and it still ranks as one of the top boy-name debuts of all time. (It also likely influenced the car name Torino.) The name Adaryll didn’t surface until 1972.

TitoTorianoAdaryll
197499†61.
197362807
197276135†9*†
19715477.
19703962*.
196933..
*Debut, †Peak

Tito’s first son, Toriano Adaryll “Taj” Jackson, Jr. (b. 1973) — whose nickname was derived from his initials — gave the name Taj a boost. His second son, Taryll (b. 1975), was behind the debut of the name Taryll (also mentioned here).

Jermaine

Jermaine Jackson, the co-lead vocalist of the group (with Michael), brought so much attention to the name Jermaine that it not only entered the top 1,000, but nearly cracked the top 100 as well:

  • 1974: 1,628 baby boys named Jermaine [rank: 151st]
  • 1973: 2,039 baby boys named Jermaine [rank: 127th]
  • 1972: 1,966 baby boys named Jermaine [rank: 135th]
  • 1971: 1,015 baby boys named Jermaine [rank: 233rd]
  • 1970: 171 baby boys named Jermaine [rank: 622nd]
  • 1969: 5 baby boys named Jermaine

Jermaine was the fastest-rising boy name in the U.S. in both 1970 and 1971 — two years in a row, impressively.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Jermaine in the U.S. since 1880.
Usage of the baby name Jermaine

On the heels of Jermaine’s rise, several variant spellings of the name either saw similarly increased usage or appeared for the first time in the boys’ data:

19691970197119721973
Jermaine51711,0151,9662,039†
Germaine.2995157†146
Jermain.13*329494
Jamaine..42*4038
Jarmaine..16*1319
Germain..112721
Jermine.9*1716
Jeremaine..8*714
Jermane..7*2033
Jemaine..7*913
Jermanie..7*78
Jermon..6*812
Jarmain..6*..
Jermayne...17*†17†
Jermone...119
Jerman...8*7
Jamain...8*†5
Jamane...8*†.
Jermyn...7*7
Germane...5*7†
Jermanine...5*.
Germayne...5*†.
Jermiane....8*†
*Debut, †Peak usage

Jermaine’s middle name, LaJuane, also debuted (in 1971).

Jermaine had a total of nine children, one of whom was named (rather infamously) Jermajesty.

Marlon

Marlon Jackson was the main reason that the name Marlon saw peak usage in 1972. (But he had some help from Marlon Brando, whose movie The Godfather came out the same year.)

Michael

Michael Jackson — who was still a decade away from releasing his massively popular solo album Thriller — couldn’t ultimately reverse the decline of the name Michael. But the combined influence of Michael Jackson and other famous Michaels (like basketball star Michael Jordan, and TV star Michael Landon) did help the name’s usage level out somewhat during the 1970s and ’80s.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Michael in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Michael

Which Jackson 5 name is your favorite? (And, if you were around during Jacksonmania: Which group member was your favorite?)

While you ponder these questions, check out the group’s appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in December of 1969:

Sources:

Images: © 1970 Jet, © 1971 Videocraft International Limited

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