Tommy Chong had a career before Cheech & Chong as a guitar player and songwriter. He was a member of Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers, who had a Top 30 Motown hit with "Does Your Mama Know About Me," which Chong co-wrote, in 1968.
The group was discovered by Diana Ross, who saw them perform in Vancouver. When she told Motown president Berry Gordy about them, he flew from Detroit to Vancouver and signed the group.
Taylor and Chong met the Jackson 5 one night in Chicago in 1967. The boys from Gary, Indiana, led by the youngest and most talented brother Michael, were on a bill that included Jerry Butler and the Vancouvers. They had yet to sign a contract with Motown.
In his book, Cheech & Chong: The Unauthorized Biography, Chong writes: "The Jackson 5 stole the show the minute they took the stage... Bobby immediately invited the boys and their father Joe to Detroit, promising them he would get them signed to Motown... I know some of the details because Joe Jackson brought me the contract to look over for him. I told him they would get a good education from Motown and after seven years (the length of the contract), they'd be ready for anything. Joe thanked me for my take on the situation, and his boys proceeded to step into stardom."
Joe Jackson passed away on June 27. He was 89 years old. Chong tells CelebStoner:
"Joe was a tough, hard-working Gary, Indiana guy with a vision for his kids. The Jackson 5’s rise to fame was a result of Joe’s vision. He was a mean old workhorse whose methods were far from normal, but produced results. Joe brought me the kids' Motown contract because I was the whitest guy he knew. Joe took my advice and the rest is history."
Watch "Does Your Mama Know About Me" below.
Read Tommy Chong's blog at CelebStoner here.