Forgetting the Motor City

Tamla, the record label now known as Motown, was founded in 1959 by Berry Gordy. It has been an iconic label in popular music for over six decades, producing popular music from the 1960s to the present day.

The label has been home to many legendary artists, including the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder. Tamla has been a major influence on the development of popular music, and its influence continues to be felt today.

So often has the narrative of Motown Records’ upward trajectory from middle-class to riches been recounted that it has become nearly mythical.

It is said that Berry Gordy Jr., a Detroit songwriter who had a few of his songs performed by Jackie Wilson, established the label in 1959.

Berry’s family had run a profitable printing business in the 1940s, and from their profits, the Ber-Berry Co-Op came into being to support the projects of family members.

Berry had attempted running a few unsuccessful businesses, so he borrowed eight hundred dollars from Ber-Berry to start his own label, taking the name from Detroit’s alias.

Decades later, Gordy sold his interest in the label for sixty-one million dollars, which later became the only record label to have its own musical – Motown the Musical – centred around Berry’s romance with Diana Ross.

Additionally, a book by Gordy, To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown, was published based on his autobiography.

It can be argued that this is essentially true, although there are nuances to consider. Before he founded the label, Gordy had established a music publishing company called Jobete – a name derived from the initials of his three children.

He realized that the most profitable way to make money in the music industry was through publishing. This meant that even after a song had been released, the publisher would still be paid for it without having to continue to work on it.

If you look at the credits of any classic Motown recording, Jobete will be mentioned frequently.

Initially, the record label was not called Motown, but rather Tamla. This wasn’t a combination of a person’s name; it was inspired by Debbie Reynolds’s then-recent hit “Tammy”.

However, because it was unavailable, the name became Tamla. This logo can be seen on many of the iconic songs we now remember as Motown standards.

Shortly after the establishment of Tamla, Gordy created Rayber, a much more short-lived label, whose name was a combination of himself and his then-wife Raynoma. Rayber only released one single, which was not particularly memorable.

He believed that playing too many songs from one company could be suspicious, so he kept creating new labels.

The Complete Motown Singles collection, which was released over the course of a decade in fourteen boxed sets, includes almost every single that Gordy’s companies produced between 1959 and 1972.

This series is unique in comparison to the countless Motown compilation albums that have appeared in the last 50 years, partly due to its inclusion of lesser-known songs.

This collection provides an intriguing glimpse of the creative process at Motown, which was driven by trial and error until the hits were created. It is also a tribute to the classic 45 rpm single.

In the past several decades, the music industry has conditioned listeners to view single songs as previews of pricier items such as albums and tours.

Nevertheless, during the Motown period featured in The Complete Motown Singles, albums were not the primary focus.

Generally, they included a few hits and many other less successful songs. Occasionally, they were attempts to capture a mainstream (white) audience, such as the Diana Ross and the Supremes Sing and Perform Funny Girl or The Temptations in a Mellow Mood.

The soul of Motown’s music was captured in 7-inch, two-song records, encased in identical paper sleeves and made accessible to the public as fast as possible.

The Complete Motown Singles was released in a hardcover book format, with a brand-new single inside and a cover that mirrors that period’s single-sleeve design.

When the Four Tops or Mary Wells put out a new single, it was not an advertisement for the next album (like Usher or Nicki Minaj’s singles today): it was the way their art was intended to be consumed.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the R&B music industry was competitive and open to all. Several small, independent labels experienced success if they could produce a quality record and cover the promotion and distribution costs.

Gordy, however, was not able to do this with his first single “Come to Me” by Marv Johnson, so he licensed it to United Artists, who made it a national hit.

Months later, he licensed Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” to Anna Records, which was run by his sisters, Anna and Gwen Gordy, as well as his childhood friend Roquel Billy Davis, and had better distribution than before.

Gordy’s first objective was to make his company stand out, and he did this by creating a complete music business through Tamla and its related labels.

This headquarters was called “Hitsville USA” and it was located on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit.

This was the site of Studio A, where many of the Motown classics were recorded. Additionally, Jobete’s publishing was included, as well as in-house songwriters and producers, a house band, a choreographer, and the “Artist Personal Development” department.

Maxine Powell was the instructor for this department and she taught the performers how to show grace and sophistication. Thus, Motown’s music had a particular brand and image that became what it was selling.

This was a product of a small, developing group of individuals that shared a vision for what they wanted to create.


Motown, a record label that has become renowned for its contributions to the music industry, is an entity that has left an indelible mark on the world.

The Motown community and aesthetic is a mythical one, no matter what was put on the records. By the late 1980s, its sub-labels were all united with the same name.

After its prime, it turned into an iconic symbol of chart-topping music, with sparkling gowns and polished hair, and the sound of Holland-Dozier-Holland tunes in the background.

Seeing the Motown logo will make your mind evoke a medley of choruses, and you’ll expect an 800 number and “Order now!” to appear on the nearest TV.

The Complete Motown Singles provides an interesting perspective on the company’s production; where the successes of its hits are paralleled with the misfortunes of its misses.

At the time, Hitsville was a stimulating environment of individual creators, testing each other’s limits through collaboration and rivalry.

This is demonstrated in the compilation, which gives equal importance to a range of artists such as Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and Soupy Sales’s “Muck-Arty-Park”.

Moreover, 1962 is represented both by the popular Martha and the Vandellas, as well as Lee and the Leopards, Mike and the Modifiers, and LaBrenda Ben and the Beljeans.

Included in each volume of music are some tunes that are ubiquitous in the Western world. However, there are also country music pieces, jazz, surf-rock, gospel, psychedelia, and schlocky novelty songs.

You can find a single by Stoney and Meatloaf (the same Meat Loaf), multiple renditions of “Abraham, Martin and John,” as well as a never-released single by the Mynah Birds, which included both Neil Young and Rick James.

In the early years of the company, Gordy was swift to take advantage of any sound that seemed like a success.

When Jimmy Dean had his hit “Big Bad John”, Bob Kayli (a pseudonym for Robert Gordy’s younger brother) responded with “Small Sad Sam”; the Coasters made a success of “Yakety Yak”, Gino Parks followed up with “Blibbering’ Blabbin’ Blues”; the Marvelettes made it big with “Please Mr. Postman”, and their own subsequent track was “Twistin’ Postman”.

In 1965, as Columbia Records saw the waning popularity of the Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself,” they re-released a song from the vault as a single.

This prompted Berry Gordy to demand a Motown response immediately. As a result, “It’s the Same Old Song” was written by reversing the chords of the original and recorded in a matter of 24 hours to be sent off to a pressing plant.

This knockoff is still remembered today for its acknowledgement of the clone.

The name “Motown” appears to be appropriate for the company (although in retrospect, any name Gordy chose would be fitting).

It is a nickname for Detroit (“Don’t forget the Motor City,” as Martha Reeves sang) and its music had a sense of place, not necessarily from a particular Midwestern metropolis, but rather from a spot where its musicians felt they belonged.

Drawing on the car industry in Detroit, Berry Gordy learnt how to bring together experts and have them work well together.

The Jackson 5, the ultimate great achievement of ’60s Motown, was a family act which Gordy gave substantial promotional and production support to; he referred to them as “the last big stars to come rolling off my assembly line.”


This word, MIRACLE, is used to describe an extraordinary and remarkable event or occurrence that cannot be easily explained by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine or supernatural agency.

It may also refer to an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God. The term can also be used to describe a beneficial outcome that is beyond what is normally expected and is attributed to some higher power.

Gordy constructed a successful music production company that simultaneously enabled creativity and ingenuity, but it was still a factory all the same.

The first accomplishment of Motown was to make the factory’s output “the Sound of Young America” (which was the company’s slogan for a period).

These words imply that individuals who are not young were not a part of the group, and also downplay the regionalism of the company while emphasizing its Americanness. This could have been beneficial for global sales in the 60s, when US singles were considered foreign.

The first British label to re-release Motown material was called Stateside, and the first S in its logo was a dollar sign.

In the 60s, Motown broke the barriers of racial segregation in the pop music industry, which was almost inconceivable for a black-run business in the Midwest to become the most powerful force in American popular music.

Motown has a definitive sound for the American 1960s and managed to do this as a business.

In modern times, the list of Motown’s greatest hits has been condensed and altered. To the average music fan today, the Supremes are known for “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “You Can’t Hurry Love,” but not necessarily for “The Composer” or “Stoned Love” (unless they are from the UK) or “Nathan Jones.

” The Four Tops’ “You Keep Running Away” sounds similar to the band who did “Bernadette.” If someone mentions Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” many people will mistakenly think it was Marvin Gaye’s song.

The Motown tracks that have stayed popular in the limited range of oldies radio, as well as the slightly broader accessibility of their Pandora playlists and satellite radio broadcasts, have achieved a remarkable feat.

For decades, they have remained firmly fixed in the essential library of pop music.

Living canons are constantly receiving new works and forming additional, smaller canons. As these canons grow, they start to dissolve and works and artists become lost. Take for example the ’60s soul hits beyond Motown.

These songs are now mostly unheard, with only a few YouTube clips receiving a couple hundred views. However, forty-five years ago, these songs were widely loved, such as Charles Bevel’s “Sally B. White”, Ike Lovely’s “Fool’s Hall of Fame” or the Invitations’ “They Say the Girl’s Crazy”.

Many great R&B artists from the Complete Motown Singles era are now largely forgotten.

Joe Tex was unfortunately signed to Dial, a small label, before it was acquired by a larger company. Bobby Bland is remembered, if at all, only for recording the original version of “Turn On Your Love Light.

” B. B. King is still a famous name, but how many of his 70-plus R&B hits other than “The Thrill Is Gone” can you name?

The Supremes, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder, among a few others, have become iconic stars of Motown.

But what kept them that way? Mere “innate excellence” isn’t enough to provide an explanation. What really put them on the map was the fact that Berry Gordy and the Motown team didn’t just sell the records that became hits–they kept selling them.

Motown pushed its artists to reproduce songs from the Jobete collection. (It typically took multiple renditions to make a song a classic.)

The label developed the artistry of its major performers, launching lead vocalists as individual acts, while also searching for replacements for those who left. (For example, the Temptations were still thriving even after David Ruffin’s departure in 1968 and Eddie Kendricks’ in 1971.)

At one stage, the company recognised that if they pooled the writers, producers and musicians in their studios, they had the ability to market collections of Motown music.

When they put these tracks together, the songs created a cohesive album which the individual Motown artists had never been able to achieve.

In 1970, the label released a five-LP box set titled The Motown Story: The First Decade. Greil Marcus labeled this compilation as “the history of James Jamerson’s bass playing, over fifty-eight hits”.


The term “soul” can be rephrased to refer to one’s “inner spirit”.

The Complete Motown Singles set features some captivating pieces from the influential house band of Hitsville, including Jamerson, Benny Benjamin and Richard Allen (drummers), Dennis Coffey (guitarist), Earl Van Dyke (keyboardist), and other prominent figures depicted in the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown.

The most memorable part of this collection is probably the instrumental break in the Supremes’ “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes” from 1963, created by the Holland-Dozier-Holland trio (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland).

Their names showed up on the labels of two dozen of the top-ten hits within the following six years. This tune has a marching band-like sound.

Traditionally, a sax solo would come after the second chorus, but instead someone yells “Rrrrr Aaaah!” and the music continues on a single chord for a few bars, followed by a more gentle growl, and Diana Ross grabs the microphone.

It is like looking at a painting and instead seeing an even more impressive empty wall.


In the 1970s, Motown records in America provided a nice reminder of the past; meanwhile in the UK, “the Sound of Young America” acted as a door to new worlds, with its non-chart-toppers not being failures, but instead being special finds.

The development of the “northern soul” genre of music was a result of a few clubs in northern England that kept hosting all-night soul dancing events well after the music they played was released.

These clubs included the Golden Torch, the Nottingham Palais, and the Blackpool Mecca. As the decades passed and American R&B and funk changed, these northern England venues remained true to the sound they preferred–Motown, and more specifically the Motown sound of 1965-67 as represented by fifteen or so CDs on The Complete Motown Singles.

Eventually, it became clear that this wasn’t enough music to sustain an entire subculture.

In the mid-’60s, there were numerous Motown-inspired records that could have been either popular or forgotten.

DJs at northern soul clubs would try to discover rare soul records from this time period, with the ones that were less known being the most prized.

As Simon Reynolds explains in his book Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past, this ultimately led to an admiration for the inferior.

The highest recognition in northern soul was a genuine Motown single so uncommon that there supposedly exist only two copies known to be in existence: Frank Wilson’s “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do).”

(It can be found in The Complete Motown Singles.) According to legend, Wilson was an up-and-coming songwriter/producer at Motown when he made his amazing song, conveying his ardent love with the accompaniment of a gospel choir and the Motown house band.

It was planned to be released with 250 test pressings made, however, Berry Gordy did not want his producers to become too successful, for fear of challenging him, so he ordered the entire batch to be destroyed.

Luckily, two copies were saved, and that is why we are able to dance to the masterpiece of Hitsville USA.

It is an intriguing tale–a long-forgotten work of art rescued from the flames and representing the victory of the young over the corporate giant–but that is all it is.

Gordy often canceled planned releases for a variety of reasons, mostly because they didn’t meet his high standards. Wilson was a far more effective producer than he was a singer; it was not a bad decision to suggest he focus on his strengths.

(Just after the era documented in The Complete Motown Singles, Motown put out a remarkable and artistically crafted single composed and produced by Wilson for Eddie Kendricks, “Girl You Need a Change of Mind,” which qualifies as a true masterpiece and gave rise to the decade of dance music to follow.)

In all honesty, “Do I Love You” is an acceptable record–its production (the backing vocals are quite remarkable) and performance are both good.

As a song, it does feel a bit unfinished. Had it been released, it could have had a brief moment in the lower regions of the charts and a few admirers. However, since it was not released, it has become something more.

The Wigan Casino, a much-loved northern soul club, closed its doors in 1981.

DJ Russ Winstanley marked the end of its final night by playing the “three before eight”: Jimmy Radcliffe’s “Long After Tonight Is All Over,” Tobi Legend’s “Time Will Pass You By,” and Dean Parrish’s “I’m On My Way.”

He then repeated the trio of songs. In 2002, Winstanley spoke with MOJO magazine, saying, “After that, I played what is now seen as the greatest and most valuable Northern track of all time, Frank Wilson’s ‘Do I Love You.’ People just broke down and wept afterwards.”

Pay particular attention to the words “best and most valuable” as if they were somehow interconnected. (In actuality, Wilson’s recording had been republished in 1979.)

What gave “Do I Love You” its subcultural value was its financial worth, which was derived from its scarcity – something that no longer exists. In reality, no recording is scarce any longer.


The study of the environment and its relation to living organisms is known as ecology. This field of study looks at the relationship between living things and their environment and how they interact with it.

It also examines the impact of human activities on the environment and its inhabitants.

Ecology is a broad field of study, and its research covers a wide range of topics from the interactions between species and ecosystems, to the effects of climate change, to the development of conservation strategies.

The Motown factory was not an ideal setting for every artist. Those who could make it through the Gordy-managed conveyor belt usually did well, yet some famous musicians who had achieved success elsewhere still faltered.

For example, Sammy Davis Jr. released a single on the subsidiary label Ecology titled “In My Own Lifetime,” which was not received well. Once freed from his contract, he went to MGM and released a hit called “The Candy Man.”

The Isley Brothers, who were well known before joining Motown, tried to fit in with “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” and “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While).”

Then, they left to create their own label, T-Neck, where they started with “It’s Your Thing”, which was a funk-groove that rarely passed Motown’s quality control standards. It was a hit and marked the start of a successful period in their career.

The passage of time has altered which musical acts are now seen as part of the Motown legacy. A few artists who were widely successful and featured on the radio at the time have since been largely forgotten.

The Velvelettes, for instance, were a bridge between the early-’60s girl-group sound and more modern groups like Martha and the Vandellas and the Supremes.

They are not essential to the narrative of Motown’s innovation, yet omitting them from the list of “bands that everybody who likes pop from that era has heard” means losing out on classic songs such as “He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin'” and “Needle in a Haystack,” a real tragedy.

  1. Dean Taylor, a white Canadian singer-songwriter whose style was more similar to Ricky Nelson than Marvin Gaye, is another loss. Taylor co-wrote songs for the Supremes and the Four Tops.

His one noticeable American hit was “Indiana Wants Me”, a rock song sung from a criminal’s perspective.

His other Motown singles were even more peculiar and full of suffering, such as “There’s a Ghost in My House”, “Gotta See Jane”, and the devastatingly melancholic “Candy Apple Red”.

As heard in The Complete Motown Singles , Taylor’s compositions and arrangements fit nicely with the other songs, but his vocal delivery stands out. His presence is a type of roughness that has been erased from the significance of Motown with the passage of time.


Motown was known for its R&B/pop works, but would also venture out into other types of music that could potentially be sold.

In the beginning, it released a series of below-average country records (with one exception, being the Hillsiders’ “You Only Pass This Way One Time”).

Moreover, the Workshop Jazz label featured some not-so-great jazz tracks. Divinity, a subsidiary of the label, put out four gospel singles.

Chisa, a soul label owned by Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine, was affiliated with Motown from 1969 to 1971 and some amazing music was created, particularly from Letta Mbulu.

Lastly, there were two “break-in” singles in which a fast-talking interviewer’s questions were answered by popular tunes from the Jobete catalog.

Gordy wanted to take advantage of the growing psychedelic rock scene, but it was difficult due to the fact that rock musicians were not inclined to follow the assembly-line system or wear tuxedos.

Additionally, Motown was unsure if the music’s success was due to the usage of drugs, which many of its personnel were not comfortable with.

For example, Gladys Knight felt unable to accurately express the song “Cloud Nine” due to the drug-related content.

The only record to ever come out on Motown’s Weed Records was an LP by Chris Clark, an artist that Gordy wanted to give a chance to. The record’s slogan was “Your favorite artists are on Weed”.

The Stooges and the MC5 were two of the most noteworthy rock bands in the Detroit area at the time, but their anarchist leanings made them unsuitable for Motown’s music.

To fill the void, the label signed the group Rare Earth, who had grown up listening to Motown, already had some Temptations songs in their repertoire, and were willing to stretch them into LP-side-length jams.

When asked what to call the new imprint, Rare Earth suggested their own name and nobody laughed it off.

In addition, Motown licensed some British records by the Pretty Things and Toe Fat, though they didn’t keep the rights to those and they’re not included in The Complete Motown Singles.

Rare Earth’s first two hits were both Temptations covers and they eventually had a hit song of their own, “I Just Want to Celebrate.”


The title of Dante Alighieri’s epic poem is referred to as “Inferno,” but another apt word for it could be “Blaze.”

When Motown’s singles are heard in order, it becomes evident that a sequence of events occurred, making it remarkable that the label endured the late ’60s. Tammi Terrell, who had achieved success with Marvin Gaye in duets, tragically succumbed to a brain tumor at 24. Shorty Long, who had a crossover hit with “Here Comes the Judge” in 1968, passed away in a boating accident.

The Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting/production team abandoned Motown to create their own labels, Invictus and Hot Wax.

Diana Ross left the Supremes in 1970, Gaye was making a lofty concept album, and Stevie Wonder wanted complete creative freedom, even threatening to terminate his contract when he turned 21.

Despite these difficulties, Berry Gordy kept the company together by signing new artists, reorganizing Hitsville, and altering Motown’s style, sometimes begrudgingly.


A person of the same name, Gordy, is being referred to here.Gordy has created a type of celebrity status around himself that he has not discouraged.

Ex-Motown artists have a tendency to intertwine their experiences with the company to their own personal experiences with Gordy. His sister married Marvin Gaye, which caused some issues when they eventually separated in the 70’s.

Smokey Robinson even went as far as to name his son Berry and daughter Tamla. Gordy’s son Kennedy, who went by the stage name Rockwell, even had a hit song called “Somebody’s Watching Me”.

Furthermore, one of Gordy’s sons and grandsons recently had considerable success in the music industry as the duo LMFAO.

In the early days of Motown, Gordy and Hitsville’s receptionist Janie Bradford collaborated on the creation of one of the label’s first successful songs, “Money (That’s What I Want).”

After that, however, he devoted his time to managing the company. Every Friday, the staff would gather to assess the recordings of the week and choose which ones should be released, with Gordy having the ultimate say in the matter.

Gordy could be quite particular when it came to the singles he released, according to The Complete Motown Singles. Interestingly, several discs in the set display multiple versions of the same record that had already been released.

The alterations he made included overdubbing, adjusting the mix, and other modifications. However, it seems that the market eventually overpowered all of his changes.

If a Motown artist displeased Berry Gordy, it could be a death knell to their commercial success; similarly, those who saw their fame wane risked the end of their relationship with Gordy.


This text is a restatement of the word “melody” in a different form, preserving the same meaning but changing the structure of the word.

The quality of many songs on The Complete Motown Singles is exceptional, even if one only finds a single new track.

Such as the 1965 B-side “I’ll Be Available” by Brenda Holloway, based on the concept of “Go do whatever you want to do, and when you’re ready for me I’ll be here”. The structure of this song was crafted by Smokey Robinson, who used “Shop Around” as a model.

A Special Status

VIP status is given to individuals who receive special recognition for their accomplishments or contributions.

This privileged position is often awarded to those who have distinguished themselves in some way, and it brings with it certain privileges that are not available to the general public. These can include access to exclusive events, special discounts, and preferential treatment.

Through the first decade of its existence, Motown exhibited a collective voice; a concept similar to what Brian Eno named as “scenius”, which was witnessed in other influential groups such as the Bloomsbury Group, the Lunar Society and the New York City downtown scene in the 70s.

Is there any other record label that has a similar identity and success in a particular era? Stax is the closest one, however, RCA had Elvis, Reprise had Sinatra, Atlantic had some talented A&R guys, while Impulse! and Folkways had impressive catalogs but no widespread success.

But, it is unlikely that there would ever be a musical about the RCA or Folkways catalogs. In comparison, Motown of the 60s stands alone as an entire genre.

At the beginning of the 1970s, the notion of Motown being a unified body of work began to falter, due to the pop music industry being centered around the idea of a single person overseeing the entirety of a recording.

However, two of Motown’s artists, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, persisted in their pursuit of complete creative control over their music, producing classic hits like “Superstition” and “What’s Going On”.

Wonder had initially been marketed as “little Stevie Wonder, the twelve-year-old genius” in order to link him to Ray Charles (he had even recorded an album of Charles covers called Tribute to Uncle Ray). In reality, Wonder had grown into a true genius.

Norman Whitfield was a key figure in The Complete Motown Singles, being both a songwriter and producer, but not a performer.

He had an early association with the company, having co written Mickey Woods’s B-side track “Please Mr. Kennedy” in 1961. Whitfield eventually became the main producer for the Temptations, with Barrett Strong, the original singer of “Money” in 1960, as his lyricist.

His response to psychedelic rock was to create psychedelic soul, with elaborate, vibrant production, extended instrumental sections, and vocal parts that were employed for their distinctiveness as much as for melodic harmony.

Whitfield had a custom of trying out his and Strong’s tunes with one artist and then recording them with various others.

When whispers began that his accomplishments were capitalizing on prior hits that the Temptations had made without him, he gathered an ensemble of obscure vocalists, the Undisputed Truth, and demonstrated that he could create an act’s notoriety without anyone else’s help–

however the Undisputed Truth was additionally essentially his research center for melodies and generation strategies that would in the end end up on Temptations records (and now and again the other way around: the Tempts got “Smiling Faces Sometimes” first; the Truth got “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” first).

Unfortunately, Berry Gordy was often left in the dust by those who he had discovered and nurtured, as was the case with Holland-Dozier-Holland, who created their own record label, Whitfield Records, and took some of Motown’s lesser-known acts with them, including Rose Royce.

To prevent this from happening again, Gordy took steps to make sure the Jackson 5 were tightly attached to the Motown apparatus.

Their first LP was called Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, and their first single was crafted from a demo by three musicians from Motown’s West Coast office.

Gordy then dedicated many hours to teaching and honing Michael Jackson’s vocals and refining what became the famous “I Want You Back.”

The Jackson 5’s success can be attributed to Gordy, Freddie Perren, Deke Richards, and Alphonso Mizell, who worked together under the name The Corporation.

They wrote and produced hits such as “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “Mama’s Pearl”.

Gordy seemed to be implying that if one was suspicious of the ‘Man’ and their ability to affect the music, then they would miss out on the amazing record that was created.

Motown’s West Coast Operation

MOWEST was the name given to the Motown record label’s operations based on the West Coast of the United States. The label was established in 1971 with the intention of breaking into the Los Angeles music scene and expanding Motown’s reach in the industry.

The flipside to the hit single “I Want You Back” was “Who’s Lovin’ You,” an homage to the classic Motown era. Nonetheless, the A-side managed to be a massive success and foreshadowed the company’s shift to California.

The Detroit riot of 1967 had inflicted a severe blow on Detroit, as Mayor Coleman Young later declared, driving it “on the fast track to economic desolation.” Because of this, Berry Gordy realized that the largest profits were to be found in Hollywood.

In 1971, Berry Gordy created a branch of Motown, called MoWest, in order to focus on artists and recordings from their West Coast office.

The first release was a unique medley of “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Abraham, Martin and John” by Los Angeles DJ Tom Clay and was the only success for the imprint.

The rest of its two-year run saw Gordy cancelling far more projects than were approved and only a single-disc compilation, Our Lives Are Shaped by What We Love, has preserved most of the MoWest material.

In 1972, Motown’s parent company, Gordy, shut down the Hitsville studios and relocated the business to Los Angeles.

While the move did not terminate the company, it did have an impact on the “Motown sound”–the collective style of the many contributors and competitors concentrated around the West Grand Boulevard facility, some of whom found their way onto records and others who did not.

The shuttering of MoWest, which had been a standalone Californian record label, made this amalgamation of talent redundant. Incredibly, five number one Motown singles were still released in 1973.

The assembly line was stopped, so the label was unsuccessful in introducing a new artist between 1974 (when the Commodores released “Machine Gun”) and 1978 (when Rick James had “You and I”).

Despite this, records from Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye kept coming, as well as classic Motown compilations. Gordy was able to continue to sell records and was content to take credit for the success.

However, what he was selling was the Motown that he had left behind in the Motor City when he moved out of Hitsville.

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