LOS ANGELES -- Even though Tito Jackson experienced fame with the Jackson 5, he heard the comments from Charles Barkley years ago, about him having an insignificant role in the group's historic success.
Now, for anyone who believes that, Jackson is looking to change that narrative about his musical abilities through his new solo project. He recently released a new version of his 2017 song "One Way Street," and is working on his sophomore album, which he says is expected to be released next year.
In 2010, NBA superstar-turned sports analyst Barkley dissed Jackson's talents as a supporting cast member. Jackson, 65, said he still feels motivated to prove Barkley and other doubters wrong.
"I took that sort of personal," he told The Associated Press in a recent interview, adding he's never heard anyone say that. "He's trying to say that I don't contribute. So then I say, 'Maybe it's time they hear from me.' I love Mr. Barkley. I am not upset about it. But it just hurts in a way where I tried to do the right thing in life, you know, raise my sons as good young black men who do the right thing by people. But now, that time has come and I'm going to do my thing."
The Jackson 5 included brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael. The family group — which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 — produced several No. 1 hits in the 1970s including "ABC," ''I Want You Back," and "I'll Be There."
But with the Jackson 5's burgeoning success, Tito was the least-heard member of the group as a background singer who played the guitar. His brothers launched solo careers, including Michael Jackson who reached superstar status.
The King of Pop, died at age 50 on June 25, 2009. Michael Jackson's estate has worked to protect his legacy, a task made more challenging by the 2019 release of the HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland," in which two men accused the singer of molesting them as boys. The Jackson family criticized the documentary.
"The people that know Michael Jackson, it just boils our blood because he's not anything like the perception that they're trying to put out on him. He's totally opposite," Tito Jackson said. "And, it's just not heard of a person being so caring and giving. But that's, Michael has been that person ever since he's been a kid. You know he cares about others and very giving and just like to make people happy. And sometimes people can use that against you. And that's exactly what happened to him."
Michael Jackson vehemently denied abuse allegations and was acquitted in 2005.
Tito Jackson and his brothers are currently touring in Europe.
"We're each other's best friends," he said. "And that's what I love about working with my brothers because we're friends."
Out of the nine Jackson siblings, Tito was the only one to never release a solo project — until his 2016 debut "Tito Time."
Jackson said he purposely held back from pursuing a solo career, because he wanted to focus more on raising his three sons — T.J., Taj and Taryll, who have their own music group 3T.
Now, it's his time.
"I'm doing things right now that some would have done 20 or 30 years ago." Jackson said. "I'm glad I did it the way I did."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31