“Dynamite!”: Watch Devo pal Jermaine Jackson’s hilariously-choreographed 1984 jailbreak video

By on January 15, 2018

Night Flight’s three-hour full episode — which originally aired on August 17, 1984 — continues to be one of the most-streamed episodes (complete with commercials!) that we’ve uploaded to Night Flight Plus!

Today, we thought we’d take a closer look at one of the videos featured: Jermaine Jackson’s hilariously-choreographed jailbreak scenario for “Dynamite,”  featuring dance moves that look like they were rejected for younger brother Michael Jackson‘s award-winning “Beat It” video.

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Jermaine and his fellow inmates wear neon-striped sleeveless prison jumpsuits — we think Sheriff Joe Arpaio would approve! — which are described by one reviewer as looking like they were “seemingly purchased at Chess King.”

Those starstruck mini-skirt wearing female prison guards — some of whom are trying to help Jermaine and his pals escape from the prison — also reminded us a little bit of Muammar Gaddafi’s elite female bodyguard corps.

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Occasionally, the song’s title flashes across the screen  in the video, which was directed by Bob Giraldi, who lensed footage of Jackson and the dancers in an unused wing of the Essex County Jail Annex in Caldwell, New Jersey, over the July 4th weekend in 1984.

Giraldi — one of the top music video directors in the early ’80s — had already directed Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video, as well as two Pepsi commercials, one featuring Alfonso Ribeiro and another Pepsi ad — shot on January 27, 1984, at the Shrine Auditorium in L.A. — which is memorable for being the one where Michael Jackson’s hair accidentally caught on fire.

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“Dynamite” ended up at #15 in the Top Twenty of Billboard Hot 100, and also charted on the R&B (then called Black Singles) chart.

Read more about Jermaine Jackson below.

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Jermaine Jackson — who now goes by Muhammad Abdul-Aziz — was born on December 11, 1954, in Gary, Indiana.

He’d been the original lead singer of the Jackson Five until 1967, after which he occasionally shared the lead vocals with younger brother Michael on popular hits like “I Want You Back,” and “I’ll Be There.”

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Like Michael, Jermaine also left the Jackson Five in the 1980s to pursue a solo career.

The Jacksons (as they were called at the time) would eventually leave their longtime label, Detroit’s Motown Records, but Jermaine remained signed to the label as a solo artist because, in 1973, he’d married label founder Berry Gordy’s’s daughter Hazel Gordy.

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In 1982, Jermaine paired up with one of Night Flight’s favorite bands, Devo, who provided the background vocals for his single “Let Me Tickle Your Fancy.”

It might seem a bit odd that he’d pair up with Devo until you remember they’re both from industrial Rust Belt midwestern cities, so maybe they had that in common (Devo’s Akron, Ohio hometown is only about 350 miles from Gary, Indiana, a little over an hour by jet plane).

In an interview with a syndicated radio show in 1984, Jermaine Jackson mentioned that he and Michael used to watch Devo videos together:

“I was wanting to really get into what we call ‘modern music’ or — they had a name for it, they called it ‘new wave,’ I called it ‘modern music.’ I’ve always been a fan of Devo with their videos, and my brothers, we’d sit up and watch them, really get a kick out of the creativity that they’d put into their videos. I mean, very creative ideas. So I had this song finished and I called the guys up and asked if they’d sing on the song with me and they thought that I wasn’t serious. So I say, ‘Well, I have the song done and everything and I think it would be great,’ so we did it. A lot of people said, ‘Jermaine Jackson and Devo?’, but that’s what I wanted the people to say because when it’s just off the wall like that, if it’s great, then that’s going to make it the biggest thing ever.”

In the August 21, 1982 edition of Billboard, “Let Me Tickle Your Fancy” landed in Top Twenty of the industry bible’s Hot 100 U.S. pop charts at #18 “with a bullet,” which was what the little red dot beside the title was called, signifying that Billboard‘s chart prognosticators were predicting the track would rise even higher.

The single — the title track to Jermaine’s ninth and final studio album for Motown, 1982’s Let Me Tickle Your Fancy, reached #46 on the Billboard 200 album charts, and #9 on the Top R&B chart. It peaked at #5 on the R&B/Soul charts, it’s highest chart position.

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Over a year later, in October ’83 — the same year he signed with Arista Records — Jermaine Jackson and Devo both appeared together on a 90-minute ABC TV network special called “A Magical, Musical Halloween.”

Produced by Dick Clark Productions, and hosted by impressionist Fred Travalena, the show was built around lip-synched performances by musical guests, which in addition to Jermaine Jackson & Devo also featured ’80s stars Billy Joel, Toni Basil and Eddie Money.

The show also featured magical illusions — created by magician Larry Wilson (who performed several tricks, which you can see here & here) and escape artist Steve Baker — in addition to a recitation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” by William Shatner.

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Night Flight’s August 17, 1984 full episode also featured videos by Dog Police, Eurythmics, Prince, The Time, Psychedelic Furs, Slade, and many, many more! Night Flight’s Discovery Segment features Milk ‘N’ Cookies’s Ian North and Eva Everything.

Hour Two brings an incredible selection of new film and video art, including experimental animation and video from Chel White, who we interviewed here on the Night Flight blog in 2015.

Discover what other surprises we have in store for you during the third hour of this complete-with-commercials full episode, which you’ll find streaming over on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.