It was 1970 when the Jackson 5 had their first No. 1 hit single, "I Want You Back." Soon after that, the family relocated from Los Angeles to a large Tudor-style estate on Hayvenhurst Avenue in Encino, which family members occupy to this day.
I frequently saw the Jackson brothers around town at their favorite haunts. I couldn't believe such stars lived in my own neighborhood and I would get such a thrill out of spotting them playing baseball at Encino Little League, scarfing the garlic rolls at Mike's Pizza, shopping for records at Sunshine Records and cruising Ventura Boulevard in their electric blue Dodge van.
In the fall of 1971, the Jackson 5 even had their own Saturday morning cartoon show, which did not feature their actual speaking voices (touring and schoolwork at Encino's own Cal Prep took precedent), but the music on the show was all theirs. Michael's speaking voice was supplied by Donald Fullilove, and I was lucky enough to attend a vocal track recording session for the show.
In a Life magazine article of the time, there was a famous photo of the brothers on the spiral staircase in their living room with gold records surrounding them. There was another photo of them on their new Honda mini bikes, bikes that they really only used on the long driveway to the house (click here to see these photos included in a Life magazine photo gallery).
Jackson family friend Mark London remembers the family and their home in Encino.
"[It] was always a happy place back in those days," said London. "I recall watching Little Rascals and Three Stooges on channel 52 with Michael, Randy and Marlon. We went to lunch at Encino Bowl, the cafeteria at City National Bank building [still there on the second floor], and Mike worshipped Love's Barbeque!" London said.
London said he has remained friendly with Randy and Marlon Jackson over the years, and he attended Michael's funeral in 2009.
"At the end of the day, we were all just Cal Prep buddies," London said.
I remember how happy Michael Jackson always seemed when I would see him out and about, at places like the Yogurt Garden or Winchell's donuts, just an ordinary kid with such an extraordinary gift for music and entertaining the world.
I always believed that Michael and the Jackson brothers experienced their most profound family memories right here in Encino, and for that I am glad.