Motown Memories

In 1958 Barry had the fortune of meeting a local group called The Miralces and provided songwriting lessons to the leader William “Smokey” Robinsion. The ensuing partnership formed the foundation of Motown Records. Motown launched with the Tamla label and Marv Johnson’s “Come to Me”, but “Money (That’s What I Want”) was the company’s first national hit and was sang by Barrett Strong. Co-wrote by Gordy, the song made him enough money to purchase a house on West Grand where a sign was hung above the front door which simply read “Hitsville U.S.A.” For the next ten years this was Motowns headquarters and the modified garage became the stuido where Motowns first No.1 R&B hit “Shop Around” was recorded peaking at No. 2 in the Pop Charts.

The Supremes and the Temptations honed thier aritsanship here, along with many others, including 11 year old Stevie Wonder. Smoky Robinsion wrote many hits for such artists as Marvin Gaye. Martha and the Vandellas, and Mary Wells to name a few. In 1963 Motown would have it’s first No. 1 LP with The twelve Year Old Genius by Stevie Wonder. America’s absoration of Motowns sound became astonishing which led to the overseas market in the mid 1960’s. In the interval of 61′ to 71′ – 28 singles topped the Pop Charts while 163 hit the Chart, This was due to the remarkable level of Quality Control maintained by Gordy and his staffers whose endorsement for artist’s release was immpectable. As the company grew it siezed the oppurtininty to get in the Donovan building on Woodward Ave. in downtown Detriot. Inside the house on West Grand you would find the Funk Brothers House Band which provided the supernatural sound for Motown, along with a rehearseral hall, finance dept ,a recording studio that had access around the clock, and areas for learning the trade form crowd pleasing to media relations.

Evolving with the times was not a hard feat for Motown, as the late sixites and early seventies provided a explosive atmoshpere in which hits like “Cloud Nine” by the Temptations gave Motown it’s first Grammy and 1971’s “What’s Going On” to this day is a mega hit from artist Marvin Gaye .Stevie Wonder kept Motown rolling in the seventies with four noteworthy albums “Talking Book”1972, “Innervisions” 1973, “Fulfillingness’ First Finale”1974, and “Songs In The Key of life” 1976. In all Stevie grabbed 15 Grammies during the decade. Other artist playing a role in keeping Motown alive were such as The Commodores, now solo artists Diana Ross, and Smokey Robinsion. During this time Motown moved it’s headquarters to L.A. and launched it’s movie production venture with Lady Sings the Blues starring Diana Ross and earning her a oscar nomination.

The 1980’s saw acts such as Rick James bring the sound of funk to Motown and solo artist Lionel Ritchie released his debut album “Lionel Ritchie” in 1982. 1983 brought Motown a TV special celeabrating 25 years in the music industry and in the same year “The Big Chill linked to the generation which shot Motowns catalog business through the roof.

The Museum:

In 1985 Esther Gordy Edwards founded the iconic museum and to this day it remains one of Michigan’s top tourist attractions. People from all over the globe travel here to stand in Studio A where lengendary artists cut their teeth and timeless music was recorded. Stocked with a variety of artifacts, the museum strives to educate all people but especially the young whose future knowledge will help carry on this magnicent treasure of sound into the years to come.

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~ by beibejones on March 12, 2013.

One Response to “Motown Memories”

  1. […] the 1950’s his sax could be heard on big hits like “Yakety -Yak” by The Coasters and […]

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