You are on page 1of 27

4.01.

2007

The Motown Movement

Berry Gordy, Jr. formed the Motown record company in 1959. Pop radio swept the nation in the
1950's and roots music black musicians struggled to keep their careers as whites profited from
their counterparts' efforts. From past experiences in the music business, Gordy had found that he
was unable to profit off of his productions when working for white-owned record companies and
distributors. After discovering the young Smokey Robinson in 1957, he began to acquire local
artists from Detroit in effort to create his own record label. Motown records quickly rose to a
successful business. The company ran like a family enterprise; the songwriters, musicians, singers
and producers all had close relationships with one another. No other record company could turn
its humble, local origins into a mark of distinction and symbol of American culture like Motown.
Otis Williams of the Temptations further expressed this emphasis of family by saying, "Joining
Motown was more like being adopted by a big loving family than being hired by a company." The
loyalty the Motown employees had to their goals and to each other was much stronger than would
be found in a normal business. Gordy, of course, acted as the paternalistic figure in the company
maintaining power over all others. Competition between artists and musicians was similar to
sibling competition, and everyone made sacrifices for the label. With everyone's contributions to
the company, Motown Records ran like a well-oiled machine. Like the Detroit motor companies'
production of cars , Motown cranked out number one hits in an assembly-line fashion.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Motown is how it united a generation of Americans despite
differences in race. The label's rejection of the division between "race records" and crossover
music was made blatantly evident by the slogan adopted by the company, The Sound of Young
America. Gordy's entire marketing strategy was based around the existence of one single,
integrated youth market. Gordy realized that all teenagers, despite their race, worry about the
same things: unrequited love, sex, relationships etc. Due to this realization, Gordy was able to
market to youth united by generation rather than youth divided by race. Motown practiced
integration in its employees and consumer market in effort to make actual integration a reality in
America. In addition to Gordy's efforts of uniting Americans, he was also viewed locally somewhat
as a hometown hero. He was employing Blacks in a time when their auto working jobs were
moving out of Detroit into the suburbs.

For all of these reasons, it is evident that Motown holds a significant position in American culture.
Each song found in this list of tracks contributes a small piece to Motown, thus contributing to
America's national identity.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 6:27 PM 1 COMMENTS

Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Funk Brothers

In 1959 Berry Gordy began to gather Detroit's best musicians from the thriving blues and jazz
scene to cut songs for his new record company. This group became known as the Funk Brothers,
and they are the heartbeat behind nearly every Motown song. By hiring a mixed race group,
Motown once again displayed its attitude on the subject of integration. According to their
documentary, the Funk Brothers played on more #1 hits than the Beach Boys, Rolling Stones,
Elvis and the Beatles combined. With this skill and talent of these musicians, Motown tracks were
produced one after another. These musical geniuses made the Motown song. Almost anyone
could have sang a great hit on the tracks provided by this group. The Funk Brothers came from all
over the country bringing different musical influences with them. Many moved from Boston,
Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Carolina in order to work in the car factories in Detroit. Gospel
music and other regional music (Afro-cuban, Caribbean congo, Native American) greatly
influenced this group. Several of the Brothers played in jazz clubs for additional money in the
evenings. From their jam sessions in local night clubs, the Funk Brothers brought new textures
and sounds into the recording studio. The musicians in this group were so talented that often
times, Motown writers would come to them with general ideas for a song and the Brothers would
begin to jam and would have a complete song within an hour. The band became so close to one
another that they were all in sync. Although, often overlooked and unknown, the Funk Brothers

introduced America to the world of powerful, ins piring soul music.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 4:15 PM 1 COMMENTS

3.29.2007

1. Barrett Strong - Money (That's What I Want); 2:35

Barrett Strong, from Mississippi, helped put Motown on the map in 1959 by producing their first
hit single, "Money". Among the first artists of Motown, Strong was greatly influence by gospel
music. This track reached #2 on the U.S. R&B charts and #23 on the pop charts. This was Strong's
only hit, he became a writer for the label, writing songs for Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye, and The
Temptations among others. Several artists/bands including the Beatles have produced covers of
this popular song. The 1978 movie, Animal House, features Strong's song.
POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 10:00 PM 0 COMMENTS

2. The Marvelettes - Please Mr. Postman; 2:29

The Marvelettes were the 1st hit girl group and the 1st Motown act to reach a #1 spot on the pop
charts in 1961. The group consists of Georgeanna Tillman, Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson,
Georgia Dobbins, and Juanita Cowart. All five of the girls attended Inskter High in Wayne
County, and were discovered through a high school talent contest. The Marvelettes helped write
their own hits. This particular track features Marvin Gaye on the drums and the accompaniment
is provided by the Funk Brothers. This song was also covered by the Beatles in 1962.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:59 PM 0 COMMENTS

3. The Contours - Do You Love Me; 2:53

This native Detroit band, consisting of Billy Gordon, Joe Billingslea, Billy Hoggs, Sylvester Polts,
and Hubert Johnson offered a new style to Motown. Unlike other Motown hits, this 1962 track is
particularly rough and rowdy. It is also much more bluesy than pop. With screaming vocals and
an upbeat rhythm provided by the Funk brothers, this song was an instant hit with consumers.
Orginally, it was written by Gordy for the Temptations, but Motown Records was unable to get a
hold of the group. The Contours were in the studio recording another song when Berry came to
them with Do You Love Me, and it became their one hit wonder. It reached #3 on the pop charts
and #1 on the R&B charts. Do You Love Me benefited from a resurgence of popularity when it was
featured in the 1988 film, Dirty Dancing.
POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:58 PM 0 COMMENTS

4. The Miracles - You've Really Got A Hold On Me; 2:57

This R&B/soul group from Detroit became known as one of Motown's signature acts in the 1960's.
Members Smokey Robinson, Claudette Rodgers, Bobby Rodgers, Pete Moore, and Ronnie White
reached the top of the R&B charts with this hit in 1962. You've Really Got A Hold On Me was
written by Robinson for his wife Claudette Rodgers. The Beatles covered this song in 1963, as they
stated they were very influenced by black music and helped the group get their music noticed.
This is, without a doubt, the most famous song of the early Motown era. The Funk Brothers
provide an excellent accompaniment.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:57 PM 0 COMMENTS

5. "Little" Stevie Wonder - Fingertips Part 2; 3:09

Stevie Wonder, born Stevland Morris in Saginaw, is known across the country as a singer,
musician, producer and songwriter. Despite his blindness, Wonder is an excellent musician
playing instruments such as drums, congas, keyboard and bass guitar. This particular track was
recorded live at Chicago's Regal Theater in 1962. Stevie was only 12 years old, hence the name
"Little Stevie Wonder". He was the first artist to have a live recording reach #1 on the charts and
the first to have a single and album reach #1 at the same time. Fingertips Part 2 was Motown's
seconds #1 hit (after Please Mr. Postman). This song features the young Wonder playing bongos
and harmonica rifs and Marvin Gaye on the drums. Wonder engages the audience in a call and
response routine and ad libs a lot in this piece.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:56 PM 0 COMMENTS

6. Martha & The Vandellas - (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave; 2:45

This group, consisting of Martha Reeves, Rosalyn Ashford and Betty Kelly, was founded in Detroit
in 1960. Martha & The Vandellas mix in a gospel flavor, jazzy overtones, and doo-wop call and
response vocals in Heat Wave. This 1963 Southern-style soul track cemented Motown as a
genuine musical force. The Funk Brothers, especially Joe Hunter on the electric piano, provided
this upbeat track with a spark of urgency. reached #4 on the pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts.
Many covers of this song were performed by artists like The Who and Whoopi Goldberg in the
film, Sister Act.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:55 PM 0 COMMENTS

7. Mary Wells - My Guy; 2:48

Mary Wells and her two siblings grew up in a poor Detroit neighborhood without a father. Her mother
worked tirelessly to support the family. Wells loved singing and was in her high school choir; she also
sang in local clubs. In 1960, her mother brought her in to meet Gordy after Wells had written a song
for a Motown artist. After singing it for Gordy, he asked her to record it, and signed her as an artist.
She was Motown’s first female star, the first artist on the label, and the first Motown Grammy
nominee. The Beatles considered her their favorite American singer. My Guy, written by Smokey
Robinson, was her biggest hit, reaching #1 on the pop charts in 1964. This track was also Motown’s
first British hit. The Funk Brothers provided the instrumentation for this song.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:54 PM 0 COMMENTS

8. Martha & The Vandellas - Dancing In The Street; 2:38

This 1964 hit by Martha & The Vandellas became an anthem-like song during the unpredictable
decade of the '60's. Singing to a globally-conscious generation, the group announced, "Calling out
around the world are you ready for a brand new beat?". Dancing in the Street gave Martha & The
Vandellas the reputation of a gutsy black girl group. This track singles out cities across the
country urging everyone to have a good time no matter where you live. This inclusion of various
locations provides a sense of intimacy between the group and the listeners and gives them a sense
of a trans-local community while listening to this song. The Funk Brothers provided the
background music for this track, featuring Benny Benjamin and Marvin Gaye on the drums. In
addition to the oddity of having two drummers, another member created a dramatic drum beat
for the track by banging a crowbar against the cement floor. This song, which for many became an
anthem for social change and civil rights, reached #2 on the pop charts.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:53 PM 0 COMMENTS

9. The Supremes - Baby Love; 2:36


This group consisting of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard, was founded in
1959. All of the girls came from Brewster-Douglas public housing project in Detroit. The
Supremes were the sister act for The Temptations and epitomized glamour in an era known
for anything but glamour. This group was the international symbol of Motown sound, as they
were the first girl group to have a #1 hit in Britain. This 1964 song about innocent teenage
love features cooing lead vocals with the pleading “baby-baby” backups. The Funk Brothers
provide the instrumentation and in this particular song perform foot stomping to give the
tune a unique sound. The Supremes appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show twenty times, and
were nominated for a Grammy for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording in 1965.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:52 PM 0 COMMENTS

10. The Temptations - My Girl; 2:55

This group, founded in Detroit in 1960, is known as one of the greatest entertaining artists of
all time. Members Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks and Paul
Williams are easily recognized by their signature dancing, distinct harmonies, and onstage
attire. Their standard dance move was coined the “Temptation Walk” and is displayed a show
of pride, confidence, success, and group coordination. Smokey Robinson wrote this 1964 hit
for his wife, Claudette of The Miracles. It is the counterpart of Mary Well’s hit, My Guy. My
Girl was the first of four U.S. #1 hits for the Temps. The Funk Brothers backed up the singers
and Robert White, the guitarist, is given credit for playing what is considered one of the most
popular guitar intros of all time. This song can be heard in TV Shows such as Full House and
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:51 PM 0 COMMENTS

11. Jr. Walker & The All-Stars - Shotgun; 2:59

Junior Walker, born Autry DeWalt Jr. in Arkansas, was known for his distinctive saxophone style
and rowdy vocals. This group’s 1965 hit, Shotgun, offered a different sound to Motown. This track
has a soul and funk feel to it and features a bluesy, gritty sound. Shotgun was this groups first and
signature hit and was written by Junior Walker. It reached #1 on the pop charts and #4 on the
R&B charts. The rest of the group consisted of drummer James Graves, guitarist Willie Woods,
and keyboardist Vic Thomas. In addition to the unique sound, this group also differed from other
Motown groups because they had their own band. How Sweet It Is and Come See About Me are
the groups other two big hits.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:50 PM 1 COMMENTS

12. Four Tops - I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch);
2:44

This Motown musical quartet was founded in 1959 in Detroit. Unlike most Motown groups, the
Four Tops had a baritone sing the lead vocals (most groups had tenor sing lead). The foursome
consisted of Levi Stubbs, Laurence Payton, Renaldo Benson, and Abdul Fakir. The 1965 song, I
Can’t Help Myself, was the first U.S. hit for the Tops reaching #1 on both pop and R&B charts.
Levi Stubbs is noted for his singing style that comes close to shouting. The sound created is very
similar to that of a Baptist preacher in church. As many other Motown hits, the Funk Brothers
provided instrumentation for this track. Both LaToya Jackson (1995) and Dolly Parton covered
this song, and it was featured in the 2001 movie, Rat Race.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:49 PM 0 COMMENTS

13. Isley Brothers - This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You);
2:46

This brotherly Motown group originated in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1959. The brothers O'Kelly,
Ronald and Rudolph all sang in church as boys and were greatly influenced by gospel music. The
1966 hit, This Old Heart of Mine, was the groups only hit on their short career on the Motown
label. The track was originally intended for The Supremes. The song peaked at #12 on pop charts
and #6 on R&B charts. The Isley Brothers are also known for their songs Shout and Twist and
Shout which they produced under their own label. In this particular track, the Funk Brothers
musically back the group.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:48 PM 0 COMMENTS

14. The Temptations - Ain't Too Proud To Beg; 2:32

This catchy hit reached #13 on the pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts. Released in 1966, it was
another hit single for what, at that point of time, were the underperforming Temptations. The
blues-inspired tune and use of horns provided by the Funk Brothers throughout this track are
accredited for recreating The Temptations' sound. The high vocal range elicits a sense of strain
and pleading that the song lyrics suggest. The Temps performed Ain't Too Proud To Beg on
American Bandstand. Numerous covers have been created of this hit, and it is featured in the
1983 film, The Big Chill.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:30 PM 0 COMMENTS

15. Jimmy Ruffin - What Becomes of the Brokenhearted; 3:01

Jimmy Ruffin was born in Mississippi and is the older brother of Temptations' singer, David
Ruffin. This poignant soul ballad tells of the anguish of unrequited love. The lyrics are full of
despair, which is not characteristic of most bubbly Motown hits. The Funk brothers add to the
song their musical abilities, and lesser known Motown session singers provide vocal backup to
make the ballad even more dramatic. The track reached #7 on pop charts and #6 on R&B. This
song was features in the 1991 movie, Fried Green Tomatoes.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:29 PM 0 COMMENTS

16. Chris Clark - Love's Gone Bad; 2:21

Chris Clark is far from the typical female Motown singer. This six foot tall, platinum blond, blue
eyed soul singer was born in California and dated Gordy. Because her appearance was so unlike
any of the other Motown artist of the time, she was often ridiculed by many. However, this thick-
skinned girl had a gutsy, powerful voice which was often mistaken for that of an African
American's voice. The track reached #105 on the pop charts and #41 on the R&B. Nevertheless,
she was a unique contribution to Motown music. While the 1966 single, Love's Gone Bad was her
only hit, she became very famous in England. She also later became the vice president for Motown
Records based in Los Angeles.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:28 PM 0 COMMENTS

17. The Supremes - You Can't Hurry Love; 2:50

This song was released in the summer of 1966 and quickly reached #1 on the pop and R&B charts.
You Can't Hurry Love is easily one of The Supremes' signature songs. Gospel music greatly
influenced this track which features a mother's words telling her daughters to be patient in the
game of love. The song was written based on a gospel song entitled "You Can't Hurry God". This
track, released two years after Baby Love, marks when The Supremes began to drift away from
their teen pop sound and focus on more mature topics and sounds. The Funk Brothers provide
excellent instrumentation especially Earl Van Dyke boogieing on the piano, James Jamerson
strumming unique rhythms on bass guitar, and Jack Ashford on the ever present tambourine.
Phil Collins made a very successful cover of this hit. It was also covered by the Dixie Chicks on the
Runaway Bride Soundtrack.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:27 PM 0 COMMENTS

18. Four Tops - Reach Out I'll Be There; 2:59

This track is known as the Tops' signature song. Reaching #1 on pop and R&B charts, it features
Levi Stubbs' powerful, almost shouting vocals and contrasting tonal nuances provided by the
Funk Brothers. This song features several shifts between minor, major and augmented chords
which help form the well known hook. The Tops' recorded this song in just two takes in 1966 and
quickly forgot about it. However, Gordy released it as a single. Stubbs' was told by producers to
sing with a sense of urgency like Bob Dylan did in his famous song, Like A Rolling Stone. Diana
Ross performed a successful cover of this hit.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:26 PM 0 COMMENTS

19. Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston - It Takes Two; 2:58

Marvin Gaye, born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr., is undoubtedly an extremely important figure in the
black music world. Similar to Stevie Wonder, Gaye was skilled in writing, singing, producing, and
accompanying. Growing up in Washington D.C., Gaye's father was a minister and the church
greatly influenced Gaye's music. After moving to Detroit and signing with Motown Gaye recorded
several well known solo tracks and many duets. Singing with Gaye was Weston's biggest claim to
fame. It Takes Two was written by Kim Weston's husband. This 1966 song reached #14 on the
pop charts and #4 on the R&B charts. A 1995 movie featuring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson called
It Takes Two features this song.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:22 PM 0 COMMENTS

20. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrel - Ain't No Mountain High


Enough; 2:28

Tammi Terrell was born in Philadelphia, PA. In 1965 she was discovered by Gordy. She sang a
series of duets with Gaye starting with this track in 1967. Terrell dated famous soul singer, James
Brown and David Ruffin of the Temps. In a concert with Gaye, she collapsed into his arms and it
was later discovered she had a brain tumor. She died at the young age of 24 in 1970. This upbeat,
danceable, and all around feel good song reached #19 on the pop charts and #3 on R&B. Ain't No
Mountain High Enough was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. Funk Brothers
drummer, Uriel Jones, brought added a sense of psychedelic soul to track. Diana Ross covered
this song in 1970 with much success. Ain't No Mountain High Enough is also featured in many
movies such as Remember the Titans and Stepmom.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:21 PM 0 COMMENTS

21. Gladys Knight & The Pips - I Heard It Through The Grapevine;
2:54

This R&B/soul act from Atlanta features lead singer Gladys Knight, her brother Merald Knight,
Edward Patten and William Guest. The group is known for their excellent entertaining skills,
always offering smoothly polished dance routines while singing. In addition to their visual
trademark dances, Gladys offered fiery gospel-like lead vocals while the rest of the group sang
sweet, soft backups. This quartet joined Motown in 1966 and recorded their best known hit, I
Heard it Through The Grapevine, in 1967. The Funk Brothers provided the instrumentation. It
reached #1 on the R&B charts and #2 on pop charts. The doo-wop call and response trademark is
also used in this song. Marvin Gaye covered this song in 1968 with great success (his version is
the most commonly recognized). Gaye's version is used in movies such as Big Chill and
Remember the Titans.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:19 PM 0 COMMENTS

22. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - I Second That Emotion;


2:41
This 1967 hit was written and produced by Smokey Robinson. He also sang the lead vocals. I
Second That Emotion was the groups first top 5 hit reaching #4 on the pop charts and #1 on the
rhythm and blues charts. Robinson got the idea for the song when Christmas shopping with
Motown writer, Al Cleveland. Cleveland apparently mistook the saying "I second that motion" for
"I second that emotion". Robinson was a prolific force in Motown and eventually became a
Motown vice president. The Funk Brothers accompanied the group on this Motown hit.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:18 PM 0 COMMENTS

23. The Jackson 5 - I Wan't You Back; 2:59

The Jackson 5 is an extremely popular quintet from Gary, Indiana. The group consisted of Jackie,
Tito, Marlon, Jermaine and Michael. Their father, Joe Jackson, served as the group's manager
and boss. The Jackson 5 is, arguably, the last great Motown act. A savvy and well choreographed
group, they were the epitome of a teenybop band. In 1969 at the time of recording this act,
Micheal was only 11 years old. Full of charisma and charm, he was adored by fans all over and it
was obvious that Motown could profit by making him a solo act. This track topped both charts in
1969, making Michael the youngest person to ever be part of a #1 hit in the U.S. The Jackson 5
took the world of Motown music by storm releasing four consecutive number one hits. I Wan't
You Back was the first.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:17 PM 0 COMMENTS

24. Rare Earth - Get Ready; 2:48


Rare Earth was somewhat of an experimental group for Motown. They were an all white rock 'n'
roll and soul band from Detroit. Members consisted of Gil Bridges (sax and flute player), Kenny
James (keyboard), John Persh (bass, trombone), Rod Richards (guitar), and Pete Hoorelbeke
(drums and vocals). The Temps first sang this hit in 1966, but Rare Earth released their well-
known version in 1970. Get Ready reached #4 on the pop charts and #20 on the R&B charts.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:16 PM 0 COMMENTS

25. The Jackson 5 - ABC; 2:58

ABC was the 2nd of the four consecutive hits released by the Jacksons in 1970. Soaring to number
one on pop and R&B charts, this track knocked the Beatles' Let it Be out of the #1 spot. Upon
listening to both ABC and I Want You Back, there are very strong sonic similarities between the
two. This track is probably the most popular song sung by the Jackson 5. The song is found in
movies such as Daddy Day Care and Clerks 2. It is even featured in various video games.

POSTED BY MEGHAN RONEY AT 9:15 PM 0 COMMENTS

26. Stevie Wonder - Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours; 2:47


This song marks Wonder's first solo production of his famous, ingenious career. He was 20 years
old in 1970 when this song was released. This track offers a new kind of soul music and has a
"joyously gritty and personal" tone to it. Both Wonder's mom and wife (at the time) helped him
write the lyrics. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for best R&B song in 1970. Signed,
Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours reached #3 on pop charts and #1 on the rhythm and blues charts.
The Golden Age of the Motown Sound

By Vivian M. Baulch / The Detroit News

March 1, 2000

That man, of course, was Berry Gordy Jr.

Smokey Robinson saw something in Gordy, too, and urged him to start his
own recording company. In 1959, Gordy borrowed $800 from his family and
"Motown" was born.

"It is probably true to say that Motown was as much Robinson's company as it was
Gordy's, although Gordy was unquestionably the head of the company," author Sharon Davis
wrote in her book, 'Motown, the History.'

By 1972 Berry Gordy was the richest black man in America with an annual income in
excess of $10 million.

Berry Gordy was born in Detroit in 1929. His parents


had migrated to the city in 1922 attracted by the job
opportunities.

Berry Gordy Sr.'s grandmother had been a slave in


Georgia, his grandfather a slaveowner. Berry Jr. was the
seventh of eight children of Bertha and Berry Sr. Love and
family ruled for the large Gordy clan.

After attending Northeastern High, Berry Jr. chased a


dream of becoming a professional boxer. He even once
Berry Gordy Jr.: The genius fought on the same card as Joe Louis.
behind Motown.
He served in the Korean War and returned to Detroit to
work at Ford's Mercury plant, earning $85 a week. Bored with his assembly line job, he spent
all his free time writing songs.
Later, on borrowed money, he bought the home at 2648 W. Grand Blvd. that later became
Hitsville USA. Success came quickly. The Motown Revue at New York's Apollo Theater in
October, 1962, showed the world that the new Motown sound was a major force to be
reckoned with.

By 1966, three out of every four Motown releases made the charts. The stars were
polished by Motown's "Motown U pros" who taught them how to dress, stand, wear makeup,
and do the motions with style, poise and grace.

The history of Motown is a string of lists -- lists of hits, lists of stars, and lists of triumphs
and tragedies.

Motown moved from Detroit to California in the mid-1970s, but removed from its roots it
was never the same again. The $100 million annual sales slipped to $20 million by 1989, with
only two power hitters in the lineup -- Boyz II Men and Queen Latifah.

Hitsville USA: The home at 2648 W. Grand


Blvd. that became the birthplace of the
"Motown Sound" and is now a Motown
museum.

Later, Gordy wrote, "Motown would have been better off with the record thing if we had
stayed in Detroit."
Now under new ownership, with 35-year-old Andre Harrell leading the company,
Motown is trying to find new roots by reaching out from California to satellite offices in other
cities. Detroit will get an office, possibly in Harmonie Park.

Harrell, the Bronx-born hip-hopper, now looks for natural talent in the same assembly line
manner that Gordy used in Motown's early years. Local talent searches sponsored by the
company seek the stars of tomorrow.

"It's the Same Old Song, with a different meaning, since you been gone."

Small Businessman of the Year: Berry


Gordy accepts the Small Businessman of the
Year Award in 1965 from then Detroit Mayor
Jerome Cavanaugh.

The Motown successes

The Four Tops

The Four Tops first performed in 1954 and are still


together after 42 years. Levi Stubbs, Abdul 'Duke' Fakir,
The Four Tops
Renaldo 'Obie' Benson, and Lawrence Payton have
survived several generations of musical tastes. Currently
they can be seen singing the praises of Michigan on a Michigan Travel Agency TV promo.
Over the years the group has managed to avoid the tragedies that dogged many other Motown
acts. Luck was involved too. A delayed TV taping in England kept them off the doomed Pan
Am Flight 103 that crashed in Lockerbie in 1988.

Some of their hits: I Can't Help Myself, 'Reach Out, I'll be there,' 'Standing in the
Shadows of Love,' 'It's the Same Old Song.'

The Temptations

At least 14 singers sang at one time or another as


Temptations. Only Otis Williams survives as the
remaining member of the classic 1960s group of David
Ruffin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and Melvin
Franklin. Franklin died at age 52 of diabetes. Paul
Williams killed himself in 1973. David Ruffin overdosed
on drugs in 1991 at age 50. Eddie Kendricks died of lung
The Temptations: From left, cancer in 1992.
Damon Harris, Dennis Edwards,
Richard Street (seated) Otis Some of their hits: 'Shotgun,''The Way You do the
Williams and David English. Things You Do,' 'I'm Losing You,' 'I Wish It Would Rain,'
'I Can't Get Next To You,' 'My Girl, ' 'Since I lost my Baby,' 'Get Ready,' 'Ain't Too Proud to
Beg,' 'Papa Was a Rolling Stone.'

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

Smokey Robinson, a pillar of Motown and a vice-president, finally quit in 1991, a few
years after the 1988 sale of the company to MCCA and Boston Ventures. But he was there at
the beginning, and his history there helped shape the history of the music industry. He won
entrance into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as
winning a Grammy Living Legend Award. His songs prompted Bob Dylan to call him
"America's greatest living poet." 'Shop Around' in 1960 started a string of 38 more hits before
Robinson quit the Miracles in 1972.
In 1994 Robinson spoke to a Florida group of
students at an anti-drug rally and mentioned religion,
touching off a firestorm of controversy went all the way
to the Supreme Court. Robinson had said that he believed
that God saved him from a bout with substance abuse. He
recited a Psalm and referred to the Hymn 'Amazing Smokey Robinson and the
Grace'. He was not invited back for the second day of the Miracles
rally. School officials said he violated his agreement to
keep religion out of his speech.

I'll Try Something New

I will build you a castle with a tower so high


it reaches the moon.
I'll gather melodies from birdies that fly
and compose you a tune.
Give you lovin' warm as Mama's oven
and if that don't do,
Then I'll try somethin' new.
I will take you away with me as far as I can
to Venus or Mars.
There we will walk with your hand in my hand
you'll be Queen of the stars.
And every day we can play on the Milky Way and if that don't do,
Then I'll try somethin' new.

I will bring you a flower


from the floor of the sea to wear in your hair.

I'll do anything and everythin to keep you happy girl


to show you that I care.
I'll pretend I'm jealous of all the fellows and if that don't do,
Then I'll try somethin' new.
I'll take the stars and count them and move a mountain
and if that don't do,
Then I'll try somethin'new.
(c)1961 Jobete Music Con, Inc. William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr.

Diana Ross

Slinky, skinny with spidery eye lashes, her singing


defines the 60s. After a successful streak with Motown
and a close personal relationship with Berry Gordy, she
left Motown and the Supremes to try a new career in
Diana Ross and the Supremes in movies. She left after the hit, 'Someday We'll be Together,'
1965 and headed for California. Gordy and Motown followed
her to California a few years later, hoping for more and different successes. Diana recently
announced on television that one of her daughters is Berry Gordy's.

Some of her hits: 'Where Did Our Love Go?,' 'I Hear
A Symphony,' 'Nothing But Heartaches,' 'Love Is Like an
Itching in My Heart,' 'River Deep, Mountain High,' 'Love
Child.'

Michael Jackson Michael Jackson, center, with


the Jackson 5.
Diana Ross was instrumental in introducing child
prodigy Michael Jackson to Motown when he was only 11. He soon topped the charts with
four singles in a row. Later he left the family group the Jackson 5 and now, as a world
superstar, he continues to top the charts with his shocking and innovative videos, while at the
same time trying to deflect rumors and charges of child molestation. His strange marriage to
Lisa Presley ended recently.
Some Jackson 5 hits: 'ABC', 'Never Can Say Goodbye,' 'Ben.'

Stevie Wonder

Little Stevie Wonder, who began recording at age 11 in 1963,


grew up and dropped the 'Little'. He not only sang his own hits, but he
wrote hits for other artists as well. He earned total artistic control and
the rights to his own songs.

Stevie Wonder in His early hits: 'Fingertips, Part 2,'


1968 'Uptight,' 'I Was Made to Love Her,'
'Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day,' 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered,
I'm Yours.' His song 'I Just Called to Say I Love You' won an
Oscar.

Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Gladys Knight and her brother and two cousins, the Pips, had Gladys Knight and the
performed together 14 years before they joined Motown in Pips
1966. There they turned out a string of hits. They left Motown for Budda Records in 1973.
The 1967 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine' is considered a classic.

Martha and the Vandellas.

Martha Reeves worked as a secretary at Motown and


occasionally did some background singing. Finally the earthy
singer hit with 'Heatwave,' 'Dancing in the Street,' and 'Jimmy
Martha Reeves and the
Mack' party music. She later moved to MCA.
Vandellas

The Marvelettes

The Marvelettes, a group of 16-year-old tee-nage girls from Inkster,


hit No.1 on the charts with 'Please Mr. Postman.' Smokey Robinson
guided the girls' career through the 1960s until they disbanded in
1970.

The Contours

The Marvelettes
The Contours, early rough singers of 'Do You Love Me?' and 'First I Look at the Purse'
featured the gravelly Billy Gordon. They gave up member Dennis Edwards to the
Temptations to replace David Ruffin.

The Motown tragedies

Mary Wells

Mary Wells arrived at Motown at age 17 and her star rose


brightly from 1961 to 1964 under the production genius of
Smokey Robinson. She later left Motown and much of the plans
Mary Wells
for her career were switched to Diana Ross. Destitute, she died
in July 1992 of throat cancer at the age of 42.

Her hits: The One Who Really Loves You, "You Beat Me to the Punch" "Two Lovers" "My
Guy"

David Ruffin

David Ruffin died at age 50 on June 1, 1991 of a drug overdose. An ex-Temptation, he had
once been fired by Motown for trying to change the Temptations, but was later rehired as a
solo.

Flo Ballard

Flo Ballard sued Motown over her ouster from the Supremes.
Later on ADC with her five kids in 1976, she died at age 32 of
cardiac arrest. The Supremes attended her funeral.

Tammi Terrell

Tammi Terrell, 25, collapsed and died of a brain tumor on


stage in Cleveland, in the arms of Marvin Gaye.
Flo Ballard
Her hits: 'You're All I Need to Get By.'

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye started with backup singers who later became


Martha and the Vandellas. He broke through in 1962 using his
Marvin Gaye
gospel and R&B background to offer romantic dance/make-out
music. He married Berry Gordy's sister, Anna, who was 17 years
older. In April 1984, at age 44, after a string of marital and financial
woes, he was shot and killed by his father in a dispute over money.

His hits: 'I'll Be Doggone,' 'Ain't That Peculiar,' 'Too Busy Thinking About My Baby,'
'What's Going On,' 'Mercy, Mercy Me,' 'Inner CIty Blues.'

Junior Walker

Junior Walker, a Motown background


saxophonist, once jammed with then Arkansas Gov.
Bill Clinton in 1987. Born Audrey Dewalt, he died of
cancer in his Battle Creek home in Nov 1995.

His hits:'Shotgun,''Road-Runner.'

Jackie Wilson
Junior Walker Jams with then-
Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton in 1987 at Jackie Wilson, 'Mr. Excitement' was incapable of

the National Governors' Conference making a bad record, according to his devotees. His
in Traverse City. 'explosive falsetto and his downright weird phrasing
made him utterly unique,' said Rob Bowman in a
1992 review. The magnetic performer, who sang a
few of Berry Gordy's early songs, hit the charts more than 50 times.

In private life he was not so blessed. In 1961 he was shot and wounded by a fan in New
York. In 1965 he divorced. His son, age 16, was killed in 1970. In 1975 he had a heart attack,
suffered brain damage and was left in a coma. He died at age 49 in Mt. Holly, New Jersey,
and was buried in an unmarked grave. Fans later purchased a grave marker for him. In 1987
his daughter age 37 was also killed.
Berry Gordy wrote 'Reet Petite' for Jackie Wilson in the late 1950s and it quickly topped
the U.S. charts. The next song Barry wrote for Jackie, 'To Be Loved,' thrilled Berry. He later
titled his autobiography with the same name.

Berry said, "Jackie Wilson was the epitome of natural greatness. Unfortunately for some,
he set the standard I would be looking for in artists forever. Watching this man perform 'To
Be Loved' was always a thrill." Barry also wrote Lonely Teardrops for him. But Jackie never
became part of Motown, only part of the legend.