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The Rise and Fall of Motown
Transcript of The Rise and Fall of Motown
With an $800 loan from his family, Berry Gordy established Tamla Records January 1959. He then set up Motown.
Both labels featured the same song writers and producers. But when Motown started gaining speed, the two labels joined together as Motown on April 14, 1960
The Detroit Years 1959-1972
The company's first group signed was the Miracles led by Smokey Robinson. The first single was "Come to Me" by Marv Johnson . Unfortunately that wasn't the first hit for Motown.
The Firsts of Motown
Gordy purchased a home and converted it into a recording label.He made the garage into the studio and the kitchen into a control room. 2648 W Grand Blvd became known as Hitsville U.S.A
The First Hit
The First hit actually came from Barrett Strong with "Money (That's All I Want)". The song actually reached #2 on the Billboard R&B Charts. The Miracles came with "Shop Around" with became the label's first million selling hit record.
During this time Motown really started to thrive. Motown started to sign artist such as Diana Ross & the Supremes, Jackson 5,Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, and so may others.
Diana Ross- Rumored to have been sleeping with Berry Gordy, Eddie Kendricks, Rick James, and Michael Jackson
*Dirty Diana was written about Diana Ross*
Jimmy Ruffin (Brother of David Ruffin)- was a pimp. He pimped out 5-7 women in Canada, including his girlfriend.
Tammi Terrell- It was rumored that Tammi had abusive relationships with men such as James Brown, David Ruffin, as well as more men in and out of Motown
Motown Scandals Cont.
Motown acted as a bank to it's artist. If they needed anything they would go the label and get whatever. Unknown to the artist, that money was borrowed against their advances for albums, tours,etc.
But when the artist stopped doing what the label wanted them to lights and heat was turned off. People had no food and house were foreclosed on. Motown artist were really singing to survive.
Berry Gordy never let anyone know how much money they were making and cheated his artist out of millions of dollars.
He would even "buy" gifts for the artist that would be taken back as soon as they left Motown... even though they paid for it.
That Detroit Sound
Motown changed music, not only for Black American but America in general. Motown cranked out timeless and classic tunes that are still listened to today
The Detroit Sound Meets California
1971 Motown moved to California. They called the sub-label Mowest. Motown had an office in LA since 63 but Gordy was ready to move everyone to LA.
They were only there to release 10 albums and 40 singles. The only song that was a hit was Tom Clay's rendition of "What the World Needs Now"
So Why Did Motown Fall?
Mowest was set up so that when the rest of the Motown artists came to LA, it would be easier. But that wasn't the case. Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops, the temptations left the label. Diana Ross and the Supremes broke up and the in house band decided to stay in Detroit. The label no longer had the star power to remain relevant.
On top of that, rumors had been surrounding the empire for a while and started plaguing it.
The Golden Era Ends! The Rise and Fall of Motown Records
On Tuesday June 28,1988, it was announced that Berry Gordy had sold Motown Records for $61 Million. MCA Inc. and Boston Ventures Limited Partnership bought the label.
Thus the Golden Era of Motown comes to an End
Motown has definitely left a legendary legacy behind of great music and singers.
Could there have been anything done to save Motown?
What kind of impact has Motown had on your life?
Has your outlook on Motown been changed at all?
Berry Gordy made sure that his artist and their songs were a hit.
He would make all acts audition in front of the entire label. If they didn't bring it, they weren't signed. You got one shot.
He got the best producers and songwriters to write hits for his artists. If a committee that he put together didn't think the song would be a hit, it wasn't released.
He would even set up "Charm Schools" so that the acts could learn stage presence and how to act in the public eye.
There have been a few attempts to resurrect Motown in its former glory but it never really worked.
But... The Story of Motown is now on Broadway
Battle of the Stars
Berry Gordy loved the idea behind Battle of the Bands so he came up with Battle of the Stars. This show would bring two Motown groups together and they would battle it out to see which group the crowd liked better.
Battle of the Stars Cont.
One of Berry Gordy's marketing methods included various "battles of the stars." He had always been intrigued by the long-standing gimmick of a "battle of the bands."
The battles were instant sellouts. Some of the match ups included the Temptations vs. the Contours, the Supremes vs. The Velvelettes and Martha and the Vandellas vs. the Marvelettes.
Everyone embraced the concept and fun was had by all until the night Little Stevie Wonder was pitted against Marvin Gaye. Gordy figured Gaye would easily be the crowd favorite simply because of his hits and polish and his immense popularity as a sex symbol with his female fans.
But Stevie, ever competitive wasn't conceding anything. He was up first, unleashing a fervid version of "Workout Stevie, Workout." Gordy watched the house respond with a roar and decided that Gaye might be in for a tougher time than he first believed.
But Gaye answered with a stirring rendition of "Hitch Hike," shimmying like a tornado and driving the ladies wild.
Stevie then countered with his first single, "I Call It Pretty Music," and the crowd swayed along. At song's end, he sent an electrical bolt through the hall with an exultant "Everybody Say Yeah!" Stevie then proceeded to virtually run the table with "Fingertips," leaving the crowd nearly spent with his blue-streak harp play.
Gaye had one more shot left and was determined to carry the day. He sprung back onstage as the band struck up "Stubborn Kind Of Fellow," but amazingly, was greeted not only by the screams he expected from the ladies but also by boos.
Confusion showed on his face but he gamely jumped into the song, determined to turn the tide. Some from the audience yelled, Marvin, you ought to be ashamed, taking advantage of a little blind kid!
Gaye ignored it and pressed on. At the conclusion of the number, the boos rained even harder. Gaye clearly was hurt but motioned for the band to play "Pride and Joy." Still the boos came, and Gordy quickly decided to intervene, taking the stage and mike from Gaye and announcing the show was over.
Source: "Blind Faith," by Dennis Love & Stacy Brown