It’s Motown Records’ 60th Anniversary!
One of the many things that Michigan should be proud of is the extraordinary music that was produced here during the Rock Era. Especially the music that was provided by Motown Records, Those records became a huge part in the racial integration of pop & rock music, with songs and artists that were accepted and loved by all races.
Motown Records celebrates its official 60th anniversary this year.
Berry Gordy Jr. founded the Motown Records company in January 1959, originally naming it ‘Tamla Records’. He wanted to call it “Tammy Records” after the Debbie Reynolds 1957 hit, but chose ‘Tamla’ instead. It was re-named ‘Motown Record Corporation’ in April 1960.
A former photography studio located at 2648 W. Grand Boulevard in Detroit was purchased by Gordy. Given the name ‘Hitsville USA’, the ground floor was turned into Motown’s recording studio and businesses offices, while the upper floor was renovated into Gordy’s living quarters.
The Motown company’s very first single release was “Come To Me” by Marv Johnson, reaching #30 on Billboard’s Pop chart. This was followed by singles from Barrett Strong, Mable John, Eddie Holland, Mary Wells, and The Miracles (with Smokey Robinson) and The Marvelettes.
Then the gates flooded open, bringing even greater successes with The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Martha & The Vandellas, The Four Tops, The Contours, Junior Walker & The All-Stars, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Rare Earth, and The Jackson 5.
Other acts included Chris Clark, Jimmy Ruffin, The Monitors, The Originals, Shorty Long, The Spinners, The Velvelettes, Earl Washington, and more.
Unfortunately for Michigan, after the 1967 Detroit riots, Gordy decided to move his company out to Los Angeles and completed the move by 1972. The production techniques changed radically and the Detroit sound fell to the wayside. Motown records would never be – or sound – the same.
But we can still revel in the music from 1959-1972 that emanated from that tiny Hitsville USA studio at 2648 W. Grand Boulevard. Join in the 60th anniversary celebration…put on some good ol’ Motown music in your car or while you’re home.
It will lift your spirits…..over & over again.