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Encyclopedia > Motown Records
Motown Records

Image File history File links Newmotownlogo. ... The Motown logo This is a copyrighted and/or trademarked logo. ...

Parent company Universal Music Group
Founded 1959
Founder Berry Gordy Jr.
Distributing label The Universal Motown/Universal Republic Group (U.S.)
Genre R&B/soul music, pop music, hip-hop music
Country of origin United States
Official website Official website of Motown Records

Motown Records, also known as Tamla-Motown outside of the United States, is a record label originally based out of Detroit, Michigan ("Motor City", hence mo(tor)town), from where it achieved widespread international success. Motown played an important role in the racial integration of popular music as the first record label owned by an African American and primarily featuring African American artists to regularly achieve crossover success and have a widespread, lasting effect on the music industry. Universal Music Group (UMG) is the largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry. ... Berry Gordy, Jr. ... The The Universal Motown/Universal Republic Group is a division of Universal Music Group, which was formed in 1999, and pools together Universal Records, Motown Records, and Republic Records. ... Motto: (Out Of Many, One) (traditional) In God We Trust (1956 to date) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington D.C. Largest city New York City None at federal level (English de facto) Government Federal constitutional republic  - President George Walker Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence from... Rhythm and blues (or R & B) is a musical marketing term introduced in the United States in the late 1940s by Billboard magazine. ... This article is about the novel Soul Music. ... For other uses, see Pop music (disambiguation). ... Hip-Hop music is a style of popular music. ... In the music industry, a record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. ... Motto: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus (We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes - this motto was adopted after the disastrous 1805 fire that devastated the city) Nickname: The Motor City and Motown Location in Wayne County, Michigan Founded Incorporated July 24, 1701 1815  County Wayne County Mayor... Official language(s) None (English, de-facto) Capital Lansing Largest city Detroit Largest metro area Metro Detroit Area  Ranked 11th  - Total 97,990 sq mi (253,793 km²)  - Width 239 miles (385 km)  - Length 491 miles (790 km)  - % water 41. ... Children at a parade in North College Hill, Ohio Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation (the process of ending systematic racial segregation). ... Popular music is music belonging to any of a number of musical styles that are accessible to the general public and are disseminated by one or more of the mass media. ... An African American (also Afro-American, Black American, or simply black) is a member of an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. ... This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


Incorporated on January 12, 1959 by Berry Gordy, Jr. as Tamla Records, Motown has, over the course of its history, owned or distributed releases from more than 45 subsidiaries in varying genres, although it is most famous for its releases in the musical genres of R&B, hip hop, pop, and soul. Motown left Detroit for Los Angeles in 1972, and remained an independent company until 1988, when Gordy sold the company to MCA. Now headquartered in New York City, Motown Records is today a subsidiary of The Universal Motown/Universal Republic Group, itself a subsidiary of Universal Music Group. is the 12th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1959 (MCMLIX) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Berry Gordy, Jr. ... Musical genres are categories which contain music which share a certain style or which have certain elements in common. ... Rhythm and blues (or R & B) is a musical marketing term introduced in the United States in the late 1940s by Billboard magazine. ... Hip hop is a cultural movement that began amongst urban African American youth in New York and has since spread around the world. ... For other uses, see Pop music (disambiguation). ... This article is about the novel Soul Music. ... Los Angeles and L.A. redirect here. ... Year 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday (link displays 1988 Gregorian calendar). ... The Music Corporation of America was a United States based corporation in the music business. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... The The Universal Motown/Universal Republic Group is a division of Universal Music Group, which was formed in 1999, and pools together Universal Records, Motown Records, and Republic Records. ... Universal Music Group (UMG) is the largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry. ...


In the 1960s, Motown and its soul-based subsidiaries were the most successful proponents of what came to be known as The Motown Sound, a style of soul music with distinctive characteristics, including the use of tambourine along with drums, a prominent and often melodic bass line played by the electric bass guitar, a distinctive melodical and chord structure, and a call and response singing style originating in gospel music. The 1960s decade refers to the years from 1960 to 1969. ... Motown, also known as Tamla-Motown outside the U.S., is a record label founded on December 14, 1959 by Berry Gordy, Jr. ... This article is about the novel Soul Music. ... “Buben” redirects here. ... For other kinds of drums, see drum (disambiguation). ... A sunburst-colored Precision Bass The electric bass guitar (or electric bass) is a bass stringed instrument played with the fingers (either by plucking, slapping, popping, or tapping) or using a pick. ... Look up melody in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Typical fingering for a second inversion C major chord on a guitar. ... In music, a call and response is a succession of two distinct phrases usually played by different musicians, where the second phrase is heard as a direct commentary on or response to the first. ... Gospel music is a musical genre characterized by dominant vocals (often with strong use of harmony) referencing lyrics of a religious nature, particularly Christian. ...

Contents

History

"Hitsville USA": 1959 - 1972

The Hitsville U.S.A. building in Detroit, Michigan, which served as Motown's headquarters from 1959 until 1968.

Berry Gordy, Jr. got his start as a songwriter for local Detroit acts such as Jackie Wilson and the Matadors. Wilson's single "Lonely Teardrops," co-written by Gordy and Roquel Billy Davis, became a huge success; however, Gordy did not feel he made as much money as he deserved from this and other singles he wrote for Wilson. He realized that the more lucrative end of the business was in producing records and owning the royalties. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1152x864, 365 KB) Summary Photo of the Hitsville USA building in Detroit MI. Photo taken: Monday June 19th, 2006. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1152x864, 365 KB) Summary Photo of the Hitsville USA building in Detroit MI. Photo taken: Monday June 19th, 2006. ... Hitsville U.S.A, as seen in The Temptations (1998). ... For the British author, see Jacqueline Wilson. ... Roquel Billy Davis, or Billy Davis, (July 11, 1932 - September 2, 2004) was producer of the song Id like to teach the world to sing, from the 1971 Coca-Cola TV advertisement. ...


In 1959, Billy Davis and Berry Gordy's sisters Gwen and Anna started Anna Records. Davis and Gwen Gordy wanted Berry to be the company president, but Berry wanted to strike out on his own. Therefore, in 1959, he started Tamla Records, with an $800 loan from his family. Gordy originally wanted to name the label "Tammy" Records, after the popular song from the film Tammy and the Bachelor. When he found the name was already in use, he decided on Tamla instead. Anna Gordy Gaye (born in 1922 in Detroit, Michigan) is the eldest sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy and was the first wife of soul music legend Marvin Gaye. ... Year 1959 (MCMLIX) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Tammy is a popular song. ... This article is about motion pictures. ... Tammy and the bachelor is a 1957 Romantic Comedy and the first of the four Tammy Movies. ...


Gordy's first signed act was The Matadors, a group he had written and produced songs for, who changed their name to The Miracles when Tamla signed them. Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson became the vice president of the company (and later named his daughter "Tamla" and his son "Berry" out of gratitude for Gordy and the label). Many of Gordy's family members, including his father Berry, Sr., brothers Robert and George, and sister Esther, had instrumental roles in the company. By the middle of the decade, Gwen and Anna Gordy had joined the label in administrative positions as well. The Miracles (known from 1965 to 1972 as Smokey Robinson & the Miracles) are an American musical group from Detroit, Michigan, notable as the first successful group act for Berry Gordys Motown Records. ... William Smokey Robinson, Jr. ...


Also in 1959, Gordy purchased the property that would become Tamla's Hitsville U.S.A. studio. The photography studio located in the back of the property was modified into a small recording studio and the Gordys moved into the second floor living quarters. Within a few years, Motown would occupy several neighbouring houses with administrative offices, mixing, mastering and rehearsal studios. Hitsville U.S.A, as seen in The Temptations (1998). ...


Among Tamla's early artists were Mable John, Barrett Strong and (on the Motown label) Mary Wells. Tamla's first release was Marv Johnson's "Come to Me" in 1959. Its first hit was Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)" (1959), which made it to #2 on the Billboard R&B charts; its first #1 R&B hit was "Shop Around" by the Miracles in 1960. "Shop Around" peaked at number-two on the Billboard Hot 100, and was Motown's first million-selling record. Also in 1960, Gordy launched Motown Records as a sister label. Because of the "Motown" name's association with "Motor City" Detroit, the blanket record company under which both Motown Records and Tamla Records operated was incorporated as "Motown Record Corporation". A year later, The Marvelettes scored Tamla's first US #1 pop hit, "Please Mr. Postman." By the mid-1960s, the label, with the help of songwriters and producers such as Robinson, William "Mickey" Stevenson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Norman Whitfield, was a major force in the music industry. Mable John (born 3 November 1930) is an American blues vocalist who was the first female signed by Berry Gordy to Motowns Tamla label. ... Barrett Strong (born February 5, 1941 in West Point, Mississippi) is an African-American singer and songwriter. ... Mary Esther Wells (May 13, 1943 – July 26, 1992) was an American soul, R&B, and pop singer. ... Marvin Earl Johnson (October 15, 1938-May 16, 1993) was an American R&B and soul singer most notable for performing on the first record to ever come from Motown. ... Music sample The Beatles Money (Thats What I Want) ( file info) Problems? See media help. ... Year 1959 (MCMLIX) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry. ... Shop Around is a 1960 single by The Miracles (credited as The Miracles featuring Bill Smokey Robinson) for the Tamla (Motown) label. ... Year 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... “Hot 100” redirects here. ... The Marvelettes was an American singing girl group on the Motown label. ... Please Mr. ... William Mickey Stevenson was a songwriter and record producer for the Motown label until 1967, when he and wife Kim Weston left the company for MGM. Categories: Musician stubs | Motown songwriters and producers | Record producers | American songwriters ... Brian Holland, his brother Edward Holland, Jr. ... Lamont Dozier (born June 16, 1941 in Detroit, Michigan) is an African American songwriter and record producer, best known as a member of Holland-Dozier-Holland, the songwriting and production team that was responsible for much of the Motown sound and numerous hit records by artists such as Martha & the... Norman Whitfield Norman Jesse Whitfield (born in Harlem, New York in 1943) was a songwriter and producer for Berry Gordys Motown label during the 1960s. ...


In the 1960s (from 1961 to 1971), Motown had 110 Top Ten hits and artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Four Tops, and The Jackson 5, were all signed to Motown labels. The company operated several labels in addition to the Tamla and Motown imprints. A third label, which Gordy named after himself, featured The Temptations and Martha and the Vandellas. A fourth, V.I.P., released recordings by The Velvelettes and The Spinners, and a fifth, Soul, featured Jr. Walker & the All Stars and Gladys Knight & the Pips (who were the first act to have been successful before joining Motown, as 'The Pips' on Vee-Jay). Many more Motown-owned labels released recordings in other genres, including Workshop Jazz (jazz), Mel-o-dy (country), and Rare Earth (rock). Under the slogan "The Sound of Young America", Motown's acts were enjoying widespread popularity among black and white audiences alike. Year 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the 1971 Gregorian calendar. ... // A record chart, also known as a music chart, is a method of ranking music according to popularity during a given period of time. ... Stevie Wonder (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, name later changed to Stevland Hardaway Morris),[1] is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. ... Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. ... For the author-illustrator, see Diana Ross (author). ... For other uses, see Supremes (disambiguation). ... The Four Tops are an American vocal quartet, whose repertoire has included doo-wop, jazz, soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, and showtunes. ... The Jackson 5 (also spelled The Jackson Five or The Jackson 5ive, abbreviated as J5, and later known as The Jacksons) was an American popular music quintet (and briefly a sextet and quartet) from Gary, Indiana. ... “Temptations” redirects here. ... Martha and the Vandellas (known from 1967 to 1972 as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas) were one of the most successful groups in the Motown roster during the 1960s and fully active from 1960 to 1972, performing at various times doo-wop, blues, pop, rock and roll and soul. ... The Velvelettes were an American singing girl group on the Motown label. ... The Spinners are a Detroit, Michigan -based soul band popular in the 1960s and 1970s. ... Junior Walker (born Autry DeWalt, Jr. ... The Pips redirects here. ... Vee-Jay Records was a record label, specializing in blues, rhythm and blues and rock and roll. ...


In Britain, Motown's records were released on various labels: at first London (only the Miracles' "Shop Around"/"Who's Lovin' You" and "Ain't It Baby"), then Fontana ("Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes was one of four), Oriole American ("Fingertips - Pt. 2" by Little Stevie Wonder was one of many), EMI's Stateside ("Where Did Our Love Go" by the Supremes and "My Guy" by Mary Wells were Motown's first British top-twenty hits), and finally EMI's Tamla-Motown ("Ain't That Peculiar" by Marvin Gaye among many others). [1] London Records is a record label headquartered in the United Kingdom, originally marketing records in the United States, Canada and Latin America from 1947 through the 1980s. ... Whos Lovin You is a Motown soul song, written in 1960 by William Smokey Robinson. ... Fontana Records was a record label active in the United Kingdom and the United States in the 1960s, as a subsiduary of the Dutch Phillips company. ... Oriole Records was the name of two record companies, one in the United States and one in the United Kingdom. ... Fingertips, Pt. ... Stateside Records was formed in the fifties by EMI after it lost the rights to distribute the US repertoire of CBS and RCA Records in the UK. Stateside signed US bands and artists who didnt have a UK contract and released them in the UK through EMI. In the... Where Did Our Love Go is a 1964 hit song recorded by The Supremes for the Motown label. ... My Guy is a 1964 #1 hit single recorded by Mary Wells for the Motown label. ... Aint That Peculiar was a 1965 hit single for American soul music legend Marvin Gaye. ...


Artist development

Artist development was a major part of Motown's operations. The acts on the Motown label were fastidiously groomed, dressed and choreographed for live performances. Motown artists were advised that their breakthrough into the white popular music market made them ambassadors for other African American artists seeking broad market acceptance, and that they should think, act, walk and talk like royalty, so as to alter the less-than-dignified image commonly held by white Americans in that era of black musicians. Given that many of the talented young artists had been raised in housing projects and were short on social and dress skills, this Motown department was not only necessary, it created an elegant style of presentation long associated with the label. The artist development department specialized primarily in working with younger, less experienced acts; experienced performers such as Junior Walker and Marvin Gaye were exempted from artist development classes. Jr. ... Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. ...


Many of the young artists participated in an annual package tour called the "Motortown Revue", which was popular first on the "chitlin circuit", and later around the world. The tours gave the younger singers a chance to hone their performance and social skills and also to learn from more experienced artists. The Motortown Revue was the name given to the package tours of Motown artists in the 1960s, such as The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Miracles, Martha & The Vandellas, etc. ... The chitlin circuit was the general name given to the string of venues throughout the easter and southern United States that catered primarily to African American audiences. ...


Production process

Motown's music was crafted with the same ear towards pop appeal. Berry Gordy used weekly quality control meetings, held every Friday morning, and veto power to ensure that only the very best material and performances the company came up with would be released. The test was that every new release needed to "fit" into a sequence of the top 5 selling pop singles of the week. As a result, several tracks which later became critical and commercial favorites were initially rejected by Gordy; the two most notable examples being a pair of Marvin Gaye songs, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "What's Going On". In several cases, producers would re-work and re-re-work tracks in hopes of eventually getting them approved at a later Friday morning meeting, as producer Norman Whitfield did with "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg". I Heard It through the Grapevine is a R&B/soul song written by Motown songwriter Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. ... Whats Going On is an album by American soul singer Marvin Gaye. ... Norman Whitfield Norman Jesse Whitfield (born in Harlem, New York in 1943) was a songwriter and producer for Berry Gordys Motown label during the 1960s. ... Aint 2 Proud 2 Beg is also the name of a 1991 TLC single. ...


Many of Motown's best-known songs, such as all of the early hits for The Supremes, were written by the songwriting trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland (brothers Brian & Eddie Holland and colleague Lamont Dozier). Other important producers and songwriters at Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. recording studio and headquarters included Norman Whitfield & Barrett Strong, Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, Frank Wilson, Motown artists Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, and Gordy himself. For other uses, see Supremes (disambiguation). ... Holland-Dozier-Holland is a songwriting and production team made up of Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian Holland and Edward Holland, Jr. ... Brian Holland, his brother Edward Holland, Jr. ... Edward Holland, Jr. ... Lamont Dozier (born June 16, 1941 in Detroit, Michigan) is an African American songwriter and record producer, best known as a member of Holland-Dozier-Holland, the songwriting and production team that was responsible for much of the Motown sound and numerous hit records by artists such as Martha & the... Hitsville U.S.A, as seen in The Temptations (1998). ... A recording studio is a facility for sound recording. ... Barrett Strong (born February 5, 1941 in West Point, Mississippi) is an African-American singer and songwriter. ... Nickolas Ashford (born May 4, 1942, in Fairfield, South Carolina) and Valerie Simpson (born August 26, 1946 in The Bronx, New York) are a successful husband and wife songwriting/production team, as well as being recording artists in their own right. ... Frank Wilson is an African-American former songwriter and record producer for Motown Records. ... William Smokey Robinson, Jr. ... Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. ... Stevie Wonder (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, name later changed to Stevland Hardaway Morris),[1] is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. ...


The many artists and producers of Motown Records collaborated to produce numerous hit songs, although the process has been described as factory-like (such as the Brill Building). The Hitsville studios remained open and active 22 hours a day, and artists would often be on tour for weeks, come back to Detroit to record as many songs as possible, and then promptly set back out on tour again. Artists rendition of the Brill Buildings main entrance on Broadway The Brill Building (built 1930) is an office building located at 1619 Broadway in New York City, just north of Times Square. ...


The Funk Brothers

For more details on this topic, see The Funk Brothers.

In addition to the songwriting prowess of the writers and producers, one of the major factors in the widespread appeal of Motown's music was Gordy's practice of using a highly select and tight-knit group of studio musicians, collectively known as "The Funk Brothers", to record the instrumental or "band" tracks of the Motown songs. Among the studio musicians responsible for the "Motown Sound" were keyboardists Earl Van Dyke, Johnny Griffith, and Joe Hunter; guitarists Joe Messina, Robert White, and Eddie Willis; percussionists Eddie "Bongo" Brown and Jack Ashford; drummers Benny Benjamin, Uriel Jones, and Richard "Pistol" Allen; and bassists James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt. The band's career and work is chronicled in the 2002 documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown. The Funk Brothers were a group of Detroit, Michigan musicians who performed on the backing tracks to most Motown Records recordings from 1959 until 1972, when the company moved to Los Angeles. ... The Funk Brothers were a group of Detroit, Michigan musicians who performed on the backing tracks to most Motown Records recordings from 1959 until 1972, when the company moved to Los Angeles. ... Earl Van Dyke (July 8, 1930 - September 18, 1992) was an African American musician, most notable as the main keyboardist for Motown Records in-house Funk Brothers band during the 1960s and early 1970s. ... Johnny Griffith (born 1936 in Billmyre, Pennsylvania, died 2002 in Detroit, Michigan) was an African-American musician. ... Joe Hunter (1927 - February 2, 2007) was an African-American musician, known for his recording session work as a pianist in Motown Records in-house studio band, the Funk Brothers. ... Joe Messina (born in Detroit, Michigan in 1928) is an American guitarist. ... Robert White (born 19 November 1936 in Billmyre, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA; died 27 October 1994 in Los Angeles, California, USA) was an African-American musician. ... To meet Wikipedia quality standards and WikiProject Music guidelines, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Eddie Bongo Brown (born 1932 in Memphis, Tennessee, died 1983 in Los Angeles, California) was an African-American musician. ... Jack Ashford (born 1934 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an African-American musician, widely known as the percussionist for Motown Records in-house Funk Brothers band during the 1960s and early 1970s. ... William Benny Benjamin (July 25, 1925 - April 20, 1969), nicknamed Papa Zita, was an African American musician, most notable as the main drummer for the Motown studio band known as The Funk Brothers. ... To meet Wikipedia quality standards and WikiProject Music guidelines, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Richard Pistol Allen (born 1932 in Memphis, Tennessee, died 2002 in Detroit, Michigan) is an African-American musician. ... James Jamerson (January 29, 1938 - August 2, 1983) was an American musician. ... Bob Babbitt (born Robert Kreinar) is an American bassist, most famous for his work as a member of Motown Records studio band, the Funk Brothers. ... Also see: 2002 (number). ... Documentary film is a broad category of visual expression that is based on the attempt, in one fashion or another, to document reality. ... Standing in the Shadows of Motown is a 2002 documentary film about the story of The Funk Brothers, Motown Records primary studio band from 1959 to 1972. ...


"Hitsville West" 1972 - 1998

After Holland-Dozier-Holland left the label in 1967 over royalty payment disputes, the quality of the Motown output began to decline, as well as the frequency with which its artists scored #1 hits. Norman Whitfield became the company's top producer, turning out hits for The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and Gladys Knight & the Pips. In the meantime, Berry Gordy established Motown Productions, a television subsidiary which produced TV specials for the Motown artists, including TCB with Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations, Diana! with Diana Ross, and Goin' Back to Indiana with The Jackson 5. Year 1967 (MCMLXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the 1967 Gregorian calendar. ... Motown Record Company, L.P., also known as Tamla-Motown outside of the United States, is a record label specializing in the musical genres of R&B, pop, soul music, and hip-hop music. ... TCB was a 1968 television special produced by Motown Productions and George Schlatter-Ed Friendly Productions. ... Diana! is American singer Diana Ross first solo TV special, which aired on ABC on April 18, 1971. ... Goin Back to Indiana was a live/soundtrack album by The Jackson 5 for Motown Records, taken from their September 16, 1971 ABC TV special of the same name. ...


`Motown had established branch offices in both New York City and Los Angeles during the mid-1960s, and by 1969 had begun gradually moving some of its operations to Los Angeles. The company moved all of its operations to Los Angeles after 1972, with a number of artists, among them Martha Reeves, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Motown's Funk Brothers studio band, either staying behind in Detroit or leaving the company for other reasons. The main objective of Motown's relocation was to branch out into the motion picture industry, and Motown Productions got its start in film by turning out two hit vehicles for Diana Ross: the Billie Holliday biographical film Lady Sings the Blues (1972), and Mahogany (1975). Other Motown films would include Thank God It's Friday (1978), The Wiz (1978) and Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon (1985). New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... Flag Seal Nickname: City of Angels Location Location within Los Angeles County in the state of California Coordinates , Government State County California Los Angeles County Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) Geographical characteristics Area     City 1,290. ... For other uses see film (disambiguation) Film refers to the celluliod media on which movies are printed Film — also called movies, the cinema, the silver screen, moving pictures, photoplays, picture shows, flicks, or motion pictures, — is a field that encompasses motion pictures as an art form or as... For the author-illustrator, see Diana Ross (author). ... Billie Holiday photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1949 Billie Holiday (April 7, 1915 - July 17, 1959), also called Lady Day is generally considered one of the greatest jazz singers of all time. ... Lady Sings the Blues is a 1972 biographical film which tells the story of blues singer Billie Holliday. ... Mahogany is a 1975 feature film, directed by Berry Gordy, produced by Motown Productions and released to theaters by Paramount Pictures. ... Thank God Its Friday is a 1978 film directed by Robert Klane. ... The Wiz is a 1978 American musical film (see 1978 in film) produced by Motown Productions and Universal Pictures, and released by Universal on October 24, 1978. ... Berry Gordys The Last Dragon is a 1985 martial arts parody film, featuring a predominantly African-American cast, and directed by Michael Schultz. ...


Despite losing Holland-Dozier-Holland, Norman Whitfield, and a number of its other hitmakers by 1975, Motown still had a number of successful artists during the late 1970s and 1980s, including Lionel Richie and The Commodores, Rick James, Teena Marie and DeBarge. By the mid-1980s, Motown was losing money, and Berry Gordy sold his ownership in Motown to Music Corporation of America (MCA) and Boston Ventures in June 1988 for $61 million. In 1989, Gordy sold the Motown Productions TV/film operations to Motown executive Suzanne de Passe, who renamed the company de Passe Entertainment and runs it to this day. The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, also called The Seventies. ... The 1980s refers to the years from 1980 to 1989. ... Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. ... The Commodores was a highly successful soul/funk band in the 1970s. ... Rick James (born James Ambrose Johnson, Jr) (February 1, 1948 – August 6, 2004) was one of the most popular artists on the Motown label during the late 1970s and early 1980s. ... Teena Marie (born Mary Christine Brockert on March 5, 1956 in Santa Monica, California) is an American singer/songwriter/producer. ... DeBarge was an American soul music, and funk group. ... The Music Corporation of America was a United States based corporation in the music business. ... Year 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday (link displays 1988 Gregorian calendar). ... Suzanne de Passe (born in 1948 in New York City, New York) is an African-American entertainment executive; the CEO of television production company de Passe Entertainment. ... Suzanne de Passe (born in 1948 in New York City, New York) is an African-American entertainment executive; the CEO of television production company de Passe Entertainment. ...


During the 1990s, Motown was home to successful recording artists such as Boyz II Men and ex-New Edition member Johnny Gill, although the company itself remained in a state of turmoil. A revolving door of executives were appointed by MCA to run the company, beginning with Berry Gordy's immediate successor, Jheryl Busby. Busby quarreled with MCA, alleging that the company did not give Motown's product adequate attention or promotion. In 1991, Motown sued MCA to have its distribution deal with the company terminated, and began releasing its product through PolyGram. Polygram purchased Motown from Boston Ventures three years later. In 1994, Busby was replaced by Andre Harrell, the entrepreneur behind Uptown Records. Harrell served as Motown's CEO for just under two years, leaving the company after receiving bad publicity for being inefficient. Danny Goldberg, who ran PolyGram's Mercury Records group, assumed control of Motown, and George Jackson served as president. Boyz II Men is an American R&B/soul singing group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ... New Edition is an American R&B/Pop group formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1980, that was most popular during the 1980s. ... Johnny Gill (born May 22, 1966 in Washington, D.C.) is an R&B singer best known for his romantic ballads and as a member of New Edition. ... PolyGram was the name from 1972 of the major label recording company started by Philips as a holding company for its music interests in 1945. ... Andre Harrell (Born September 26, 1960) in Harlem, New York is an American entrepreneur and founder of the now defunct record label, Uptown Records. ... Uptown Records was an American record label, founded by Andre Harell in the late-1980s. ... Mercury Records was a record label founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1945 by Irving Green, Berle Adams and Arthur Talmadge. ...


Universal/Motown: 1999 - present

By 1998, Motown had added stars such as 702, Brian McKnight, and Erykah Badu to its roster. In December of 1998, PolyGram was acquired by Seagram, and Motown was folded into the Universal Music Group. Ironically, Seagram had purchased Motown's former parent MCA in 1995, as such Motown was in effect reunited with many of its MCA corporate siblings (Seagram had in fact, hoped to build a media empire around Universal, and started by purchasing PolyGram). Universal briefly considered shuttering the floundering label, but instead decided to restructure it. Kedar Massenburg, a producer for Erykah Badu, became the head of the label, and oversaw successful recordings from Badu, McKnight, Michael McDonald, and new Motown artist India.Arie. 702 (pronounced Seven-Oh-Two), named after the area code of their hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, is an American platinum-selling female R&B trio. ... Brian McKnight on the cover of his 2005 album Gemini Brian McKnight (born June 5, 1969 in Buffalo, New York) is a Grammy nominated American singer, songwriter, arranger, producer and one of the prominent singers of his years, specializing in pop and R&B. He is a multi-instrumentalist and... Erykah Badu (born Erica Abi Wright, February 26, 1971, in Dallas, Texas) is an American neo-soul, R&B/hip hop artist whose work crosses over into jazz. ... The Seagram Company Ltd. ... Universal Music Group (UMG) is the largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry. ... Kedar Massenberg is an American record producer and record label executive, best known as the president of Motown Records from 1997 to 2004. ... A different person also named Michael McDonald is a co-founder of ATO Records. ... India Arie Simpson (born October 3, 1975), professionally known as India. ...


In 2005, Massenburg was replaced by Sylvia Rhone, former CEO of Elektra Records. Motown was merged with Universal Records to create the Universal Motown Records Group, an umbrella division of Universal Music which oversees the releases and catalogs for Motown, Universal, Blackground, Republic, Cash Money, Casablanca, and other labels. Motown's current roster includes R&B singers India.Arie, Erykah Badu, Mýa, Kem, Yummy Bingham, pop singer Lindsay Lohan, reggae singers Damian and Stephen Marley, and rappers Trick Trick and Nick Cannon. Sylvia Rhone (born March 11, 1952 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) began her music career in 1974 with Buddha Records. ... Elektra Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group, and today operates under Atlantic Records Group. ... Universal Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group. ... The Universal Motown Records Group is a division of the Universal Music Group, a collection of several record labels: Universal Records Universal South Records Blackground Records Motown Records Republic Records Cash Money Records Casablanca Records Uptown Records Next Plateau Records Rowdy Records Street Records Corporation The Inc. ... Blackground Records is an American record label, owned by entertainment attorney and artist manager Barry Hankerson and his son Jomo Hankerson, and distributed through the Universal Music Group. ... Republic Records logo. ... Cash Money Records is an American hip hop record label. ... This article is about Casablanca, the record label. ... Contemporary R&B is a music genre of American popular music, the current iteration of the genre that began in the 1940s as rhythm and blues music. ... India Arie Simpson (born October 3, 1975), professionally known as India. ... Erykah Badu (born Erica Abi Wright, February 26, 1971, in Dallas, Texas) is an American neo-soul, R&B/hip hop artist whose work crosses over into jazz. ... Mýa Marie Harrison (born October 10, 1978),[1] known professionally as Mýa or Mýa Harrison, is an American R&B and pop singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actress, and model who rose to fame during the late 1990s. ... Kem on the cover of his 2005 second album, Album II Kem Owens (born in Nashville, Tennessee), professionally known as Kem, is an Nigerian American R&B/soul singer, songwriter, and producer. ... Elizabeth T. Wyce Bingham a. ... For other uses, see Pop music (disambiguation). ... Lindsay Dee Lohan[1] (born July 2, 1986) is an American actress and pop music singer. ... Reggae is a music genre developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. ... Damian Marley (born July 21, 1978 in Kingston, Jamaica), is a three time Grammy-winning reggae artist and is the youngest son of reggae legend Bob Marley. ... Stephen Robert Nesta Raggamuffin Marley (born April 20, 1972) in Wilmington, Delaware, is a Jamaican musician and the son of reggae legend Bob Marley and Rita Marley. ... Hip hop music is a style of popular music. ... Christian Mathis, better known as Trick-Trick, is an African-American rap artist from Detroit, Michigan. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and The Temptations had remained with the label since its early days (although both Ross and the Temptations each briefly recorded for other labels for several years). Ross left Motown from 1981 to 1988 but returned in 1989 and stayed until 1999, Robinson left the label briefly in 1999, and the Temptations in 2004. Wonder is today the only artist from Motown's "classic" period still on the label. Modern Motown releases feature a new stylized "M" logo for the label; reissues of classic Motown material continue to use the mod "M" logo first introduced in 1965. This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Notable Motown singles

See also: List of Motown No. 1 singles in the United States This is a list of singles released on one of the various labels owned by Motown Records that reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. ...


The following are examples of Motown singles which reached number-one on either the Billboard Hot 100 or the Billboard R&B singles chart. “Hot 100” redirects here. ... The Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, formerly known as Top Soul Singles, Top Black Singles, and Top R&B Singles (before the hip-hop term was added in the late 1990s), lists the most popular songs, calculated weekly by airplay and sales, in traditionally African American venues...

Year Title Artist #1 pop #1 R&B
1960 "Shop Around" The Miracles - 1
1961 "Please Mr. Postman" The Marvelettes 1 1
1962 "Do You Love Me" The Contours - 1
1963 "(Love is Like a) Heat Wave" Martha & the Vandellas - 1
1964 "My Guy" Mary Wells 1 -
1964 "Where Did Our Love Go" The Supremes 1 1
1965 "My Girl" The Temptations 1 1
1965 "Stop In The Name Of Love" The Supremes 1 -
1965 "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" Four Tops 1 1
1966 "You Can't Hurry Love" The Supremes 1 1
1967 "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" Gladys Knight & the Pips - 1
1968 "I Heard It through The Grapevine" Marvin Gaye 1 1
1969 "I Want You Back" The Jackson 5 1 1
1969 "Someday We'll Be Together" Diana Ross & the Supremes 1 1
1970 "War" Edwin Starr 1 1
1970 "Stoned Love" The Supremes - 1
1970 "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" Diana Ross 1 1
1971 "What's Going On" Marvin Gaye - 1
1972 "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" The Temptations 1 -
1973 "Let's Get It On" Marvin Gaye 1 1
1974 "Dancing Machine" The Jackson 5 - 1
1976 "Love Hangover" Diana Ross 1 1
1977 "Don't Leave Me This Way" Thelma Houston 1 1
1977 "Got to Give It Up" Marvin Gaye 1 1
1977 "I Wish" Stevie Wonder 1 1
1980 "Upside Down" Diana Ross 1 1
1981 "Endless Love" Diana Ross & Lionel Richie 1 1
1983 "All Night Long (All Night)" Lionel Richie 1 1
1984 "I Just Called to Say I Love You" Stevie Wonder 1 1
1985 "Rhythm of the Night" DeBarge - 1
1993 "End of the Road" Boyz II Men 1 -
1994 "I'll Make Love to You" Boyz II Men 1 1
1997 "On & On" Erykah Badu - 1
2000 "Bag Lady" Erykah Badu - 1

Shop Around is a 1960 single by The Miracles (credited as The Miracles featuring Bill Smokey Robinson) for the Tamla (Motown) label. ... The Miracles (known from 1965 to 1972 as Smokey Robinson & the Miracles) are an American musical group from Detroit, Michigan, notable as the first successful group act for Berry Gordys Motown Records. ... Please Mr. ... The Marvelettes was an American singing girl group on the Motown label. ... Do You Love Me is a 1962 (see 1962 in music) hit single recorded by The Contours for Motowns Gordy Records label. ... The Contours were one of the early soul singing groups signed to Motown Records. ... (Love is Like a) Heat Wave is a 1963 soul single by Motown girl group Martha and the Vandellas on the Gordy (Motown) label. ... Martha & the Vandellas were an American Motown group of the 1960s. ... My Guy is a 1964 #1 hit single recorded by Mary Wells for the Motown label. ... Mary Esther Wells (May 13, 1943 – July 26, 1992) was an American soul, R&B, and pop singer. ... Where Did Our Love Go is a 1964 hit song recorded by The Supremes for the Motown label. ... For other uses, see Supremes (disambiguation). ... This article is about the 1964 Temptations song. ... “Temptations” redirects here. ... Stop In The Name Of Love is the 10th studio album by American singer La Toya Jackson. ... For other uses, see Supremes (disambiguation). ... I Cant Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) is a 1965 hit song recorded by The Four Tops for the Motown label. ... The Four Tops are an American musical group, who helped define the Motown sound of the 1960s. ... You Cant Hurry Love is a 1966 hit song recorded by The Supremes for the Motown label. ... For other uses, see Supremes (disambiguation). ... I Heard It through the Grapevine is a R&B/soul song written by Motown songwriter Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. ... The Pips redirects here. ... Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. ... I Want You Back is a 1969 #1 hit single recorded by The Jackson 5 for the Motown label. ... The Jackson 5 (also spelled The Jackson Five or The Jackson 5ive, abbreviated as J5, and later known as The Jacksons) was an American popular music quintet (and briefly a sextet and quartet) from Gary, Indiana. ... Someday Well Be Together is a 1969 recording released as a single for Diana Ross & The Supremes by the Motown label on October 14, 1969. ... Reissue album cover showing The Supremes in 1966. ... War is a soul song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for the Motown label in 1969. ... Edwin Starr (January 21, 1942 – April 3, 2003) was a soul music singer. ... Stoned Love is a 1970 hit single recorded by The Supremes for the Motown label. ... For other uses, see Supremes (disambiguation). ... Aint No Mountain High Enough is an R&B/soul song written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson in 1966. ... For the author-illustrator, see Diana Ross (author). ... Whats Going On is a song written by Renaldo Obie Benson, Al Cleveland, and Marvin Gaye. ... Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. ... Papa Was a Rollin Stone is a soul song, written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong as a single for Motown act The Undisputed Truth in 1971. ... “Temptations” redirects here. ... Lets Get It On is the seminal 1973 #1 smash sung by American soul music legend Marvin Gaye. ... Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. ... Dancing Machine is a 1973 song recorded by The Jackson 5, released as a single in 1974. ... The Jackson 5 (also spelled The Jackson Five or The Jackson 5ive, abbreviated as J5, and later known as The Jacksons) was an American popular music quintet (and briefly a sextet and quartet) from Gary, Indiana. ... Love Hangover was a very successful and popular single for legendary Motown diva Diana Ross when it was released in 1976. ... For the author-illustrator, see Diana Ross (author). ... Dont Leave Me This Way is a song made popular by Thelma Houston and later The Communards. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Got to Give It Up is a 1977 hit single recorded by American soul music legend Marvin Gaye. ... Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. ... I Wish (1976) is a hit funk song by Stevie Wonder. ... Stevie Wonder (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, name later changed to Stevland Hardaway Morris),[1] is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. ... Upside Down was a successful single by Motown legend Diana Ross. ... For the author-illustrator, see Diana Ross (author). ... Endless Love is the name of three artistic bodies of work. ... For the author-illustrator, see Diana Ross (author). ... Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. ... All Night Long (All Night) was a 1983 hit single for Lionel Richie. ... Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. ... I Just Called to Say I Love You is a song written, produced, and performed by Stevie Wonder as part of the soundtrack to the 1984 film The Woman in Red. ... Stevie Wonder (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, name later changed to Stevland Hardaway Morris),[1] is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. ... DeBarge was an American soul music, and funk group. ... For other uses, see End of the Road (disambiguation). ... Boyz II Men is an American R&B/soul singing group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ... Ill Make Love To You is a 1994 #1 hit single by R&B group Boyz II Men for the Motown label. ... Boyz II Men is an American R&B/soul singing group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ... Erykah Badu (born Erica Abi Wright, February 26, 1971, in Dallas, Texas) is an American neo-soul, R&B/hip hop artist whose work crosses over into jazz. ... Erykah Badu (born Erica Abi Wright, February 26, 1971, in Dallas, Texas) is an American neo-soul, R&B/hip hop artist whose work crosses over into jazz. ...

Notable Motown artists

The following is a list of Motown's best-selling or historically significant recording artists, grouped by the decade they joined the label. For a full list of Motown artists, see List of Motown performers. This is a list of artists signed to Motown Records or one of its many subsidiaries. ...

1950s and 1960s

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

Motown subsidiary labels

Major divisions

  • Motown Records: Established 1960, Motown was and remains the company's main label for mainstream R&B/soul music (and, today, hip hop music as well). The label's numbering system was combined with those of Tamla and Gordy in 1982, and the label (and company) was purchased by MCA in 1988. Notable Motown artists have included Mary Wells, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Jackson 5, Boyz II Men, and Erykah Badu.
  • Tamla Records: Established 1959; Tamla was a primary subsidiary for mainstream R&B/soul music. Tamla is actually the company's original label; Gordy incorporated Tamla Records several months before establishing the Motown Record Corporation. The label's numbering system was combined with those of Motown and Gordy in 1982, and the label was merged with Motown in 1988. Notable Tamla artists included Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder.
  • Gordy Records: Established 1961, Gordy was also a primary subsidiary for mainstream R&B/soul music. Originally known as Miracle Records (slogan: "If It's a Hit, It's a Miracle"), the name was changed in 1962 to avoid confusion with the Miracles singing group. The label's numbering system was combined with those of Motown and Tamla in 1982, and the label was merged with Motown in 1988. Notable Gordy artists included The Temptations, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Rick James, and DeBarge. Gordy Records slogan: "It's What's in the Grooves that Counts"

Secondary R&B labels

  • Mo-West Records: Mo-West was a short-lived (1971 - 1973) subsidiary for R&B/soul artists based on the West Coast. Shut down when the main Motown office moved to Los Angeles. Notable artists included G.C. Cameron, Syreeta Wright and Los Angeles DJ Tom Clay.

Alternate genre labels

  • Divinity Records: Short-lived (1961 - 1963) gospel subsidiary.
  • Mel-o-dy Records: Established in 1962 as a secondary R&B/soul music subsidiary, Mel-o-dy later focused on white country music artists. Notable Mel-o-dy artists include Dorsey Burnette. The label was dissolved in 1965.
  • Workshop Jazz Records: Motown's jazz subsidiary, active from 1962 to 1964. Notable Workshop Jazz artists included the George Bohannon Trio and Four Tops (whose recordings for the label went unissued for 30 years).
  • Rare Earth Records: Established in 1969 after the signing of Rare Earth (after whom the label was named), Rare Earth Records was a subsidiary focusing on rock music by white artists. Notable acts included Rare Earth, R. Dean Taylor, The Pretty Things, and Stoney & Meatloaf. The label also was the subsidiary to house the first white band signed to Motown: The Rustix. The label was dissolved in 1976, and its acts moved to the Prodigal subsidiary.
  • Weed Records: A very short-lived subsidiary. Only one release, Chris Clark's 1969 CC Rides Again album, was issued. The name "Weed Records" is now owned by the Tokyo-New York based Weed Records.
  • Natural Resources Records: This label was active from 1972 to 1973 and in 1976 as a minor subsidiary for white artists and instrumental bands. Served as a label for Motown, Tamla, and Gordy reissues and Motown compilation albums in 1978 and 1979.
  • Prodigal Records: Purchased by Motown in 1974, Motown used Prodigal Records as a second rock music subsidiary; a sister label to Rare Earth Records. The Rare Earth band moved over to the label following the Rare Earth label's demise. Prodigal was dissolved in 1978.
  • Hitsville Records: Originally founded as Melodyland Records in 1974, the name was changed to Hitsville in 1976. Like Mel-o-dy before it, Hitsville focused on country music. Notable artists included Pat Boone and T.G. Sheppard. The label was dissolved in 1977.
  • Morocco Records: Meaning "Motown Rock Company," Morocco was a rock music subsidiary for white artists. Active from 1983 to 1984, it was a short-lived attempt to revive the Rare Earth Records concept.
  • Mo Jazz Records: Another jazz label created in the 1990s. Notable artists included Norman Brown, Foley, and J. Spencer.

Independent labels distributed by Motown

  • Chisa Records: Motown released output for Chisa, a label owned by Hugh Masekela, from 1969 to 1972.
  • Ecology Records : A very short-lived label owned by Sammy Davis, Jr. and distributed by Motown. Only release: single "In My Own Lifetime"/"I'll Begin Again", by Davis in 1971.
  • CTI Records: Motown distributed output for CTI Records, a jazz label owned by Creed Taylor, from 1974 to 1975. CTI subsidiaries distributed by Motown included Kudu Records, Three Brothers Records and Salvation Records.
  • Gull Records: A UK-based label still in operation, Motown released Gull's output in the US in 1975. Gull had Judas Priest on its roster in 1975, but their LP Sad Wings of Destiny, intended for release by Motown in the US, was issued after the Motown/Gull Deal had fallen through.

See also

References

  • Edwards, David and Callahan, Mike. (March 15, 1998) "The Motown Story & Album Discography". Both Sides Now Publications.
  • Posner, Gerald (2002). Motown : Music, Money, Sex, and Power. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-375-50062-6.

External links

  • Official website
  • Official Classic Motown website
  • Motown Historical Museum
  • Complete discography of pre-1986 Motown singles
  • Complete discography of pre-1986 Motown albums
  • Motown Message Board (French and English)

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