Today, October 15, is the birthday of one Toriano Adaryll Jackson. If you are Black, or have spent any amount of time around Black people or are not Black but maybe came into adulthood in the 70s and 80s, then you know Toriano by his more common moniker, Tito. Yes, October 15th is Tito Jackson’s birthday. We should all rejoice and be glad in it.
I don’t know exactly why, but I would rather enjoy Tito. Maybe it’s because his name is Tito and I’ve never met a Tito I didn’t like. Liquor or human. Maybe it’s because if you have a name like Tito (or Toriano for that matter; real talk, the Jackson family names are worthy of discussion on their own—we call him Jackie, but he was born as Sigmund Esco Jackson), you have to be fun. And cool. I’ve never met the man myself; the closest I’ve come to meeting Tito was the Michael Jackson concert I went to when I was a kid for the Bad Tour and the several Janet Jackson concerts I’ve been to. But I’ll bet if you ask anybody about Tito, they’d say, “Tito? Tito Jackson? That’s one cool cat.” Maybe they’d even say it in Samuel L. Jackson’s voice.
But here’s the funny thing about Tito—and I can’t prove this—but I think he’s probably the most name-checked Jackson after Michael and maaaaaaybe Janet. Here’s why I say this, for better or worse, I’ve heard Tito Jackson’s name used in any manner of circumstance when not talking about being the lead guy. And it’s not always in a negative way, but the Jacksons, and the Jackson 5, in particular, are a band/group we often think of in African America, and we use them all of the time to point out family dynamics and roles. When somebody has to take point on something, you might hear, “I’m Mike on this one.” And out of nowhere, somebody asks, “so who’s Tito?” And you know what, it doesn’t even matter because everybody who ain’t Mike is just not the main guy. And look, Jermaine Jackson had an amazing career with songs we all know and love, but when Michael Jackson is the main guy, everybody else is last place. Which, again, isn’t a knock.
My point is, I feel like at almost all points in life, if you’re going to mention a not Mike (or Janet) Jackson, Tito is getting the nod. I decided to do some super-duper scientific research on this and hit up Genius.com and did a search for “Tito Jackson” to see how many references have been made using his name. And you know how many have been made? A whole gotdamn lot. I stopped counting when I hit like 40. And that was no easy feat either; for some odd reason, searching for “Tito Jackson” brought up a lot of “tipo Jackson” references that I had to skip over. I definitely lost interest at some point, but the fact is, Tito is outchea.
Did you know Tito Jackson released two albums in the last FIVE YEARS??? Of course, you didn’t. In 2017, he released the album Tito Time, which c’mon, how awesome is that for an album title? The first single from Tito Time is called “Get It Baby,” which features Big Daddy Kane. No bullshit, there’s a line dance for this song. And you know what? Tito Time is pretty good. “One Way Street” jams. “Cruisin’” sounds like it was WAITING for Jahiem to jump on it. The album was built for your adult contemporary stations.
And in 2021, Straight Outta COVID, Tito released Under Your Spell, a folksy album that features folks like George Benson, Stevie Wonder, and brother Marlon. Tito is out here doing work, presumably enjoying his life, making music with his friends.
You know what else Tito did for the world—he made music for the world—he also fathered Taj, Taryll, and T.J., collectively known as singing group 3T, who gave us the song “Anything.” And let’s be real, your life is better with “Anything” in it. You may not have listened to it in a long time, but today is as good a day as any; it’s Tito’s birthday.
Happy 68th birthday, Tito. Today, I will tell somebody they’re Tito and it will be a compliment.