THE MOTOWN STORY

DISCOVER THE STORY BEHIND THE SOUND

Gordy founded Motown in 1959, when race relations in America were at a pivotal point – white teens were going crazy for the rhythm and blues produced by black artists, and the time was right for Berry Gordy to make history.

Using his experience working on the Ford Motor Company automotive assembly line, Gordy assembled a team of producers, songwriters, and the greatest house band in the world, the Funk Brothers, and began to assemble Motown’s signature sound.

When “Money (That’s What I Want)” hit the airwaves in 1960, the response across the country was electric. America was ready for a new sound, and Berry Gordy had given it to them.

Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & Motown employees
Berry Gordy & The Motown Family
Berry Gordy & The Supremes

In 1961, the Miracles sold over a million copies of “Shop Around,” and The Marvelettes spent a week in the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. Gordy then mentored Diana Ross & The Supremes for crossover success and from 1964 to 1967, ten of their releases landed in the #1 position on the pop charts, and the group released a mindblowing five #1 songs in a row.

The Detroit Riots erupted on July 23, 1967 and quickly escalated into one of the deadliest riots in United States history. After the chaos, Berry Gordy began releasing songs that directly addressed civil rights issues and social unrest with songs like “Abraham, Martin, and John” and “May What He Lived For Live”.

In 1965, the Tamla-Motown Revue toured the UK, marking the start of Britain’s love affair with Motown which continues to this day.

Eventually Motown moved to LA and continued producing groundbreaking music for decades. The label produced over 525 albums and gave birth to some of America’s most iconic performers – The Temptations, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, Martha & The Vandellas, the Commodores, Lionel Richie, and many other artists.

Collectively, these artists achieved over 57 #1 Hits on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, claiming over 148 weeks of chart-toppers, and united people of all ages and races.
In 1965, the Tamla-Motown Revue toured the UK; the only like that Diana Ross & The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and Stevie Wonder toured the UK together. Although the tour was not a huge commercial success – almost every venue was barely half full – this marked the start of Britain’s love affair with Motown which continues to this day.

All of Motown’s major artists have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including Berry Gordy himself.

Berry Gordy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Lena Horne & Billy Taylor

 

 

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