Motown signed the Jackson 5 in 1968 and moved them to Los Angeles, where the company set up offices. The group was very young but had years of training by this point thanks to their father, Joe, who drilled them constantly. The challenge for Motown was finding the right songwriters and producers to team them with - their stalwart team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland (Holland-Dozier-Holland) had left the label, and there were no ready successors. A new team - Freddie Perren, Fonce Mizell and Deke Richards - stepped in, writing the first Jackson 5 hit, "I Want You Back
," which was released in October 1969 and went to #1 US in January 1970. Berry Gordy, the boss at the label, took and active role in the writing and production of that song, so much so that he included himself in the credits. Gordy dubbed this new team (with him included) "The Corporation," which was how the songwriting credit appeared - individual names were not listed, making them interchangeable.
When Gordy found a winning formula, he stuck with it, so he had the same team work on the next Jackson 5 single, "ABC," with the same Los Angeles session musicians playing on it. Musically, it's very similar to "I Want You Back" - the heavy lifting was the lyrics, as they wanted a completely different storyline. According to Perren, they came up with about 10 different verses before settling on the two that conveyed just the right amount of energy and innocence. Perren was a former school teacher, which influenced the school metaphors in the lyrics.
Released in February 1970, "ABC" went to #1 in on April 25, knocking off "Let It Be
" by The Beatles. The next two Jackson 5 singles, "The Love You Save
" and "I'll Be There
," were also written by The Corporation and rose to to #1.