Music is their sanctuary. From Donald Byrd to Jackson 5, the Mizell Brothers are responsible for some timeless moments in music history.
The Mizell bloodline is thick: two prominent early 20th century black leaders, Andy Razaf (the composer of Ain’t Misbehavin), The Ronettes, Don Mizell, and the great Jam Master Jay. Success seems to run in their genes. So here’s a story of family values. It begins with a little hit by a little boy and his four big brothers. The boy is named Michael Jackson, the brothers are the Jackson 5, the song they are about to record is one co-written by Fonce Mizell called I Want You Back, and, in a last-minute bit of Motown intrigue, it’s plucked from the hands of Gladys Knight in their favor. (Larry says Gladys still may not know the song was meant for her.) When Fonce’s Motown days ended (after a series of #1 J5 hits he got no writing credit for), brothers Larry and Rod joined him in Los Angeles and the magic continued. Out of ill pangaeic jam sessions at their Hollywood Hills studio came the stuff that gave fusion a name. This time they kept the publishing. So after a glorious ten-year run at the top ending around 1982, they retired to their Altadena rancho for tennis, champagne, clams on the half shell, and roller skates.