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This was the first Jackson 5 hit not written by "The Corporation," a collection of Motown writers lead by the chief of the label, Berry Gordy. The Corporation were based in California, unlike most Motown writers, who were in the Detroit offices. This song was written by Hal Davis (who also produced it), Bob West, Willie Hutch, and Berry Gordy.
In this song, a man tells his former lover that he will always be there for her, and that even if she finds someone new, she can always go back to him.
The lead vocals were shared by Michael and Jermaine Jackson. (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL, for all above)
In 1975 Gloria Gaynor recorded a Disco cover of this entitled 'Reach Out, I'll Be There," which peaked at #14 in the UK and #60 in the US. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England)
Mariah Carey remade this in 1992. It was originally a last-minute addition to her MTV Unplugged setlist, after she had been informed that most acts on the show commonly perform at least one cover.
Carey's version was performed as a romantic duet, with her singing Michael Jackson's lines and an uncredited Trey Lorenz, who had provided background vocals on her Emotions album, performing Jermaine Jackson's part.
Carey's label received numerous requests to release "I'll Be There" as a single after the MTV Unplugged special was aired. They did so and it went on to top the Hot 100 and several other charts including the ones in Canada, The Netherlands and New Zealand. The song also peaked at #2 in the UK.
At one point Michael hollers, "Just look over your shoulders, honey." He had been instructed by Berry Gordy to sing "just look over your shoulder" (as an allusion to what Levi Stubbs had said in The Four Tops' "Reach Out I'll Be There
"), but the fluffed line was allowed to remain in the final mix.
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