60 Motown Records Facts

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1. Motown was originally founded by Berry Gordy Jr. as Tamla Records on January 12, 1959 and was incorporated as Motown Record Corporation on April 14, 1960. Gordy launched the label with an $800 loan from his family and royalties earned writing for Jackie Wilson, (he co-wrote “Reet Petite” a hit for Wilson).

2. Berry Gordy got his start as a songwriter for local Detroit acts such as Jackie Wilson and the Matadors. Wilson’s single “Lonely Teardrops”, written by Gordy, became a huge success.

3. Its first hit was Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” (1959), which made it to number 2 on the Billboard R&B charts. It went on to be covered by many artists, including The Beatles in 1963 and the Flying Lizards in 1979.

4. Marvin Gaye was one of the co-writers of ”Dancing in the Street” (with William “Mickey” Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter). Martha and the Vandellas version reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. A 1985 duet cover by David Bowie and Mick Jagger charted at No. 1 in the UK and reached No. 7 in the US.

5. During the 1960s, Motown achieved spectacular success for a small label: 79 records in the top-ten of the Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 1969.

6. The Marvelettes were its first significantly successful girl group after the release of their debut single the 1961 number one “Please Mr. Postman”. It became the first Motown song to reach number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. Marvin Gaye played drums on the track.

7. The Supremes were founded as The Primettes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959.

8. “Where Did Our Love Go” was originally intended by Holland-Dozier-Holland for the Marvelettes, who rejected it. Recorded by The Supremes it gave them their first US Number one.

9. Between 1961 and 1963, the Supremes released six singles, none of which charted in the Top 40 positions of the Billboard Hot 100.They were Jokingly referred to as the “no-hit Supremes” around Motown’s Hitsville U.S.A. offices.

10. The Four Tops were founded as the Four Aims, that began their careers together while they were high-school students in Detroit.

11. Levi Stubbs from the Four Tops was also a voice artist in film and animated television series, most famously having provided the voice of ‘Audrey II’, the alien plant in the 1986 musical horror comedy film Little Shop of Horrors.

12. The Temptations were originally called The Elgins.

13. “My Girl” at hit for The Temptations in 1964 was written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White. Otis Redding covered the song on his album Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul.

14. Stevie Wonder owns the Urban Adult Contemporary radio station KJLH (102.3 FM) that serves the Los Angeles area.

15. The Beatles covered various Motown songs including: “Please Mr. Postman”, The Marvelettes, “You Really Got a Hold on Me”, The Miracles, “Shout”, the Isley Brothers, “Money (That’s What I Want)”, Barrett Strong.

16. Barrett Strong became a Motown writer lyricist, teaming with producer Norman Whitfield. Together, they wrote some of the most successful and critically acclaimed soul songs ever to be released by Motown, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by both Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & the Pips; “War” by Edwin Starr; “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)” by Paul Young; “Smiling Faces Sometimes” by the Undisputed Truth; and the long line of ‘psychedelic soul’ records by the Temptations, including “Cloud Nine”, “I Can’t Get Next to You”, “Psychedelic Shack”, “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)”, and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”.

17. Songwriter Eddie Holland was an early Motown artist who recorded minor hit singles. He started working behind the scenes due to stage fright. He was a member of Holland–Dozier–Holland, the songwriting and production team responsible for much of the Motown Sound and hit records by Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes, The Four Tops, and The Isley Brothers, among others. He has written or co-written 80 hits in the UK and 143 in the US charts.

18. Before signing with Motown The Jackson 5 first signed with Steeltown Records in 1967 and released two singles, “Big Boy” and “We Don’t Have to Be Over 21 (To Fall in Love)”.

19. On 1st April 1984 Marvin Gaye was shot dead by his father at his parent’s home in Los Angeles, California. The argument started after his parents squabbled over misplaced business documents, Gaye attempted to intervene, and was killed by his father using a gun he had given him four months before. Marvin Sr. was sentenced to six years of probation after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

20. The Supremes were the most commercially successful of Motown’s acts and are, to date, America’s most successful vocal group with 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100.

21. “Come to Me” by American singer Marv Johnson was the first ever single to be released by the Tamla Records label which would eventually become known as Motown. Johnson was discovered by Berry Gordy while Johnson performed at a carnival.

22. “Fingertips” by Little Stevie Wonder gave Tamla their second US number one single. It was also the first live, non-studio recording to reach number 1 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart.

23. In the early 70s The Jackson Five became Motown’s main marketing focus and the label capitalized on the group’s youth appeal, licensing dozens of products, including the Jackson Five heart logo on Johnny Jackson’s drum set, stickers, posters, and colouring books, as well as a board game and a Saturday morning cartoon.

24. Stevie Wonder signed with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of 11.

25. Motown was the first record label to run its own ‘charm school’ to teach artists how to perform.

26. In 1966, Berry Gordy refused to sign The Jackson 5 because he didn’t want to work with any more children. It was Gladys Knight who persuaded him to change his mind a year later.

27. The Satintones were the first group ever to record for the Motown label. The recorded six singles for the Motown label between 1959 and 1961, though they never scored a hit record.

28. Mable John became the first female signed by Berry Gordy to Motown’s Tamla label. She released the 1960 single “Who Wouldn’t Love a Man Like That”. After leaving Motown, John spent several years as a Raelette, backing many Ray Charles hits.

29. The biggest-selling Motown singles in the UK were “I Just Called To Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder, and “Hello” by Lionel Richie.

30. Some of the lesser-known artists who recorded for Motown in the early 60s include: Singin’ Sammy Ward, Popcorn and the Mohawks, Paul Gayten, Nick & the Jaguars, The Twistin’ Kings, The Swinging Tigers and The Golden Harmoneers.

31. The Jackson 5 were the first black male group to debut with four consecutive number one hits on the Hot 100 with the songs “I Want You Back”, “ABC”, “The Love You Save”, and “I’ll Be There”

32. American soul singer Nella Dodds was the first Motown act to make the charts with a version of “Come See About Me” which later became a number one hit for The Supremes.

33. The Supremes’ choreography for “Stop! In the Name of Love” involved one hand on the hip and the other outstretched in a “stop” gesture. Paul Williams and Melvin Franklin of The Temptations taught the girls the routine backstage in London, England before the Supremes’ first televised performance of the single on the Ready Steady Go! special ‘The Sound of Motown.’

34. Gladys Knight has won seven Grammy Awards (four as a solo artist and three with the Pips) and is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with The Pips. She also recorded the theme song for the 1989 James Bond film Licence to Kill.

35. It took The Supremes six single releases before they scored a top 20 hit. They are now the best-charting girl group in US history.

36. A June 2009 article by The Daily Telegraph called “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5 as ‘arguably the greatest pop record of all time’.

37. In 1953 Berry Gordy started a record shop with partner Marv Johnson called 3-D Record Mart. The shop closed two years later after going bust.

38. “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5 sold 4.2 million copies in the United States, and 6.1 million copies worldwide. It replaced Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” as the most successful single released on Motown in the US, a record it held until the release of Lionel Richie’s duet with Diana Ross, “Endless Love” (1981).

39. “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” became Marvin Gaye’s first hit single, reaching the top ten of the R&B chart and the top fifty of the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1962.

40. The 1963 hit “Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vandellas was one of the first songs to exemplify the style of music later termed as the “Motown Sound”.

41. Between 1962 and 1966, Smokey Robinson was one of the major songwriters and producers for Motown, penning many hit singles for Mary Wells, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and the Marvelettes.

42. Stevie Wonder was born six weeks early. The stunted growth of blood vessels in the back of his eyes caused his retinas to detach, and the oxygen pumped into his incubator made the condition worse, leaving him permanently blind.

43. The Funk Brothers were a group of Detroit-based session musicians who performed the backing to most Motown recordings from 1959 until the company moved to Los Angeles in 1972. They played on Motown hits such as “My Girl”, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, “Baby Love”, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”, “The Tears of a Clown”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, and “Heat Wave”.

44. “Cloud Nine” released in 1969 by The Temptations won Motown its first Grammy Award.

45. Tammi Terrell scored seven Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “You’re All I Need to Get By”. Terrell’s career was interrupted when she collapsed into Marvin Gaye’s arms as the two performed at a concert at Hampden–Sydney College on October 14, 1967, with Terrell later being diagnosed with a brain tumor. She died on March 16 1970 from complications from brain cancer, a month shy of her 25th birthday.

46. Martha Reeves initially worked for Motown as the office secretary.

47. The song writing and production team Holland–Dozier–Holland was made up of Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland. They wrote many hits for Motown artists including: include “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “You Can’t Hurry Love” (the Supremes), “Heat Wave” and “Jimmy Mack” (Martha and the Vandellas), “Reach Out I’ll Be There” and “Baby I Need Your Loving” (the Four Tops), and “Can I Get a Witness” and “How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You” (Marvin Gaye).

48. American bass player James Jamerson was the uncredited bassist on most of the Motown Records hits in the 1960s and early 1970s. As a session musician he played on 30 Billboard number 1 hits.

49. The debut studio album by Stevie Wonder (then billed as Little Stevie Wonder), The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie showcases the 12-year-old Wonder’s talents as a composer and instrumentalist, and it’s one of two Wonder studio albums on which he doesn’t sing (the other being Eivets Rednow).

50. Motown was the first commercial US record label to be owned by an African American. Between 1961 and 1971, Motown produced 110 US top 10 hits.

51. Before they were The Temptations, the members were in two different groups; the Primes and the Distants. The two groups were based out of Detroit, and they joined together when the Distants lost some of its members.

52. According to Ross, her mother actually named her “Diane”, but, a clerical error resulted in her name being recorded as “Diana” on her birth certificate.

53. Berry Gordy briefly worked on the assembly line at a Ford car plant. It is rumoured that Gordy based his hit factory after the Detroit car assembly line that he knew so well: Make a good product, then make something similar, and make it quick.

54. Stevie Wonder became the first Motown artist to negotiate a contract that allowed for complete artistic control of his music.

55. The Temptations have thirty-seven top 40 hits to their credit, and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

56. “Shop Around” by The Miracles became Motown’s first million-selling record.

57. Diana Ross once worked at Hudson’s Department Store in downtown Detroit, where it has been claimed in biographies, she was the first black employee “allowed outside the kitchen”

58. Stevie Wonder’s harmonica playing can be heard on such hits as Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You”, Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”, The Eurythmics “There Must be an Angel”, and Sting’s “Brand New Day”.

59. The Temptations were the first Motown act to earn a Grammy Award, for “Cloud Nine” in 1969

60. Throughout the Sixties, Motown produced a catalogue of songs that cannot be rivalled. “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me,” “Heat Wave,” “Dancing in the Street,” “Tracks of My Tears,” “Where Did Our Love Go,” “My Guy,” “My Girl,” “Baby Love,” “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” “I Can’t Help Myself,” “I Want You Back”, “Get Ready,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” and many more.

Important Dates In The Life Of Motown Records:

On this day in music
28 Jan 2023
American singer and songwriter Barrett Strong died at home in the La Jolla district of San Diego, California, aged 81. He was the first artist to record a hit for Motown Records and Norman Whitfield wrote some of the most successful and critically acclaimed soul songs ever to be released by Motown, including, 'Money', 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine', 'Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)', 'War', 'Ball Of Confusion', and 'Papa Was A Rolling Stone'.
15 Dec 2022
Bertha Barbee-McNeal, a co-founder of Motown hitmakers the Velvelettes, died in Kalamazoo, Michigan at the age of 82. In 1963, the group released the non-charting ‘There He Goes’ before making a mark with ‘Needle in a Haystack’ and ‘He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’, Both became trademarks for the group, who were also especially noted for 1966’s ‘These Things Will Keep Me Loving You.’
8 Aug 2022
American singer, songwriter, and record producer Lamont Herbert Dozier died at his home near Scottsdale, Arizona at the age of 81. He co-wrote and produced 14 US Billboard No.1 hits as a member of Holland–Dozier–Holland, songwriting and production team and worked with many artists including Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes, Four Tops, Freda Payne and The Isley Brothers. Dozier had another No.1 hit as a songwriter in the 1980s, joining with Phil Collins to write the song 'Two Hearts' for the movie soundtrack for Buster.
7 Jan 2022
Canadian musician R. Dean Taylor died at home at the age of 82. The singer, songwriter, and record producer worked for Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s. He co-wrote hits for the Four Tops, Temptations and Diana Ross & the Supremes. As a singer, Taylor is best known for his chart-topping 1970 hit 'Indiana Wants Me' and the 1974 hit 'There's a Ghost in My House' (first released in 1967).
15 Dec 2021
American singer Wanda Young died at the age of 78. She was a member and after 1965, the lead singer of the Motown all-female singing group the Marvelettes. They gave Motown their first No.1 Pop single in late 1961 with ‘Please Mr. Postman’. The Beatles later recorded ‘Please Mr. Postman’ on their second studio album With the Beatles and in 1975, the Carpenters' remake of ‘Please Mr. Postman’ was a No.1 hit around the world.
8 Dec 2021
Gil Bridges, the last surviving member of the original line-up from American band Rare Earth died aged 80, of complications arising from COVID-19. Rare Earth was the first big hit-making act signed by Motown that consisted only of white members.
4 Mar 2020
American singer, Barbara Martin died age 76. She is best known as one of the original members of Motown group The Supremes. She left the group in spring 1962.
2 Jan 2020
American soul singer, songwriter and record producer Lorraine Chandler died age 73. Chandler was one of the first black female songwriters and producers. She worked with Motown Records percussionist Jack Ashford (famous for playing the tambourine on hundreds of Motown recordings). The O’Jays recorded her song 'I'll Never Forget You'.
24 Oct 2018
American guitarist and session musician Wah Wah Watson, (Melvin Ragin) died aged 67. He was famed for his skills with a wah-wah pedal and became a member of the Motown Records studio band, The Funk Brothers, where he recorded with The Temptations (his guitar work on 'Papa Was A Rollin' Stone'), The Jackson 5, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes. He also appeared on Michael Jackson's Off The Wall album.
20 Aug 2018
American soul musician Eddie Willis died from complications of polio at the age of 82. Willis played electric guitar and occasional electric sitar for Motown's in-house studio band, The Funk Brothers, during the 1960s and early 1970s. He performed many hits including ‘Please Mr. Postman’ by The Marvelettes, ‘The Way You Do the Things You Do’ by The Temptations, ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ by The Supremes, and ‘I Was Made to Love Her’ by Stevie Wonder.
23 Apr 2017
Kerry Turman, a longtime bassist for The Temptations died of natural causes age 59 after performing at a show in Missouri. Turman had performed with The Temptations since the 1980s.
12 Oct 2016
American soul music singer, songwriter, arranger, and record producer Sonny Sanders died age 77. He formed the Satintones in Detroit in 1957 becoming the first vocal group signed to Motown, and released their first record, 'Going to the Hop' / 'Motor City' in 1960. He later arranged strings on may hits including Jackie Wilson’s 'Higher and Higher' and 'I Get the Sweetest Feeling'.
24 Dec 2015
William Guest of Gladys Knight And The Pips died of heart failure at the age of 74. His background vocals can be heard on all of the group's hits, including 'Midnight Train To Georgia', 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' and the Grammy winning 'Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)'.
15 May 2015
R&B and jazz singer Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly died from heart failure in the US Virgin Islands, where she was visiting for a performance, she was 70 years old. Ortheia spent much of her career touring with and opening for some of Motown's biggest acts, including Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Gladys Knight.
17 Nov 2014
American soul singer Jimmy Ruffin died aged 78. Ruffin who was the elder brother of David Ruffin of the Temptations had the 1974 UK No.4 single 'What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted'. In 1980, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees produced his album Sunrise and the hit single 'Hold On To My Love', reached No.10 in the US and No.7 in the UK.
31 Jan 2014
American businesswoman, composer and songwriter Anna Gordy Gaye died three days after her 92nd birthday. An elder sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, she became a record executive in the mid-to-late 1950s distributing records released on Checker and Gone Records before forming the Anna label. Gordy later became known as a songwriter for several hits including the Originals' ‘Baby, I'm for Real’, and two songs on Marvin Gaye's What's Going On album. The first wife of Gaye, their turbulent marriage later served as inspiration for Gaye's album, Here, My Dear.
2 Apr 2013
A grand piano used in the Motown Records studios was fully restored and put on display at a museum dedicated to the legendary record label in Detroit. Sir Paul McCartney helped fund the restoration of the 1877 Steinway, which was originally in Motown's Studio B.and was used to create hits for names including Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Edwin Starr.
24 Mar 2013
American songwriter and record producer Deke Richards died of esophageal cancer aged 68. He is notable for being a member of both The Clan and The Corporation, the latter being a hitmaking production team that wrote and produced The Jackson 5's early hits, including 'I Want You Back', 'ABC', and 'The Love You Save'. He produced Diana Ross and the Supremes after Holland, Dozier and Holland left Motown in 1968 and co-wrote the US No.1 hit 'Love Child' for the Supremes, and was solely responsible for 'I'm Still Waiting', a UK No.1 hit, for Diana Ross.
3 Mar 2013
American musician and tenor singer Bobby Rogers died aged 73. He was a member of The Miracles who with Smokey Robinson had the 1970 UK & US No.1 single 'Tears of a Clown'. Rogers was a part-time Motown songwriter; his most notable composition with bandmate Smokey Robinson, was The Temptations' first hit single, 'The Way You Do the Things You Do. Rogers also co-wrote The Temptations 1965 hit 'My Baby.'
23 Feb 2013
Jermaine Jackson officially changed his last Name to Jacksun. The third-oldest member of the Jackson 5, who unofficially took the name Mohammad Abdul Aziz upon his 1989 conversion to Islam, said he was making the new change for "artistic reasons."
18 Feb 2013
African-American soul and R&B singer Otis Damon Harris, who was a member of The Temptations, died at the age of 62 after a 14-year battle with prostate cancer. Harris was a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1975, joining shortly after the departure of Eddie Kendricks.
16 Jul 2012
Hungarian-American bassist, Bob Babbitt died aged 74, from brain cancer. He is most famous for his work as a member of Motown Records' studio band, the Funk Brothers, from 1966 to 1972. Babbitt's most notable bass performances include 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours' by Stevie Wonder, 'War' by Edwin Starr, 'The Tears of a Clown' by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, 'Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)' and 'Inner City Blues' by Marvin Gaye, 'Band Of Gold' by Freda Payne, 'Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)', and 'Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)' by The Temptations.
29 Feb 2012
American guitarist and session musician Roland Bautista died of natural causes. He was a former member of Earth, Wind & Fire and had also worked with artists such as Tom Waits, The Jackson 5, B.B. King, Ramsey Lewis, Randy Crawford and George Duke.
22 Feb 2012
American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger Mike Melvoin died in Burbank, California of cancer, aged 74. He worked as a prolific studio musician, recording with Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, Tom Waits, Barbra Streisand, The Jackson 5, Natalie Cole, and The Beach Boys on Pet Sounds. He worked in the early 1970s as a music director on The Partridge Family recordings and also composed for film and television including contributing scores to Fame.
30 Sep 2011
American guitarist and songwriter Marv Tarplin died aged 70. He was best known as the guitarist for the Miracles from the 1950s through the early 1970s who co-wrote several of their biggest hits, including the 1965 Grammy Hall Of Fame inducted 'The Tracks of My Tears'. Tarplin also worked with Marvin Gaye, The Marvelettes and The Supremes.
26 Jan 2011
American singer Gladys Horton died aged 66. She was the founder and lead singer of the Motown all-female vocal group The Marvelettes who had the hits 'Please Mr. Postman', (when Horton was reportedly just fifteen years old). Horton would later sing lead on Marvelettes' classics such as 'Playboy', 'Beechwood 4-5789' and 'Too Many Fish in the Sea'.
30 May 2010
American R&B singer, songwriter, Ali-Ollie Woodson died from cancer aged 58. Woodson was best known for singing with The Temptations from 1984 to 1996 and also worked with Aretha Franklin, Jean Carn, and Bill Pinkney.
10 May 2010
New York City's Apollo Theatre began installing bronze plaques on the sidewalk outside the building of legends who had close ties to the theater. Among the first to be honored were James Brown, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Ella Fitzgerald.
3 Sep 2009
Friends and family of Michael Jackson paid their last respects to the singer at a funeral held at Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Los Angeles. Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Jones, Macaulay Culkin, Berry Gordy and Lisa Marie Presley were among the 200 invited guests. The singer's family arrived in a motorcade of 31 vehicles, Jackson's brothers - Randy, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon - acted as pallbearers carrying Jackson’s gold-plated coffin.
7 Jul 2009
Michael Jackson's family and fans said farewell to the pop superstar at an emotional memorial service. The singer's coffin was placed in front of the stage during the event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles after an earlier private funeral. Jackson's daughter Paris, 11, fought back tears to describe him as "the best father you could ever imagine". Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey paid tribute before the family joined a sombre finale on stage. Motown boss Berry Gordy, who signed the Jackson Five, ended his tribute with the words: "Michael, thank you for the joy, thank you for the love. You will live in my heart forever."
1 Jul 2009
The week after Michael Jackson's death, the singer dominated the Top Ten of Billboard's album chart. Leading the pack was Number Ones, followed by The Essential Michael Jackson at No.2, Thriller was No.3 and Off The Wall was No.4. The Jackson 5's Ultimate Collection held the No.5 spot, Bad was No.6, Dangerous was No.7, Greatest Hits - HIStory - Vol. 1 came in at No.8 and Michael's Ultimate Collection occupied the No.9 position. Collectively, Jackson's solo albums sold 415,000 copies for the week, 58% of which were digital downloads. The week before his death, his titles sold a combined 10,000 units.
25 Jun 2009
Michael Jackson died at the age of 50, after suffering heart failure at his home in Beverly Hills. The eighth child of the Jackson family, he debuted with his brothers as a member of The Jackson 5 in 1964. Jackson is credited for transforming the music video into an art form and a promotional tool, four of his solo albums are among the world's best-selling records: Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995), while his 1982 Thriller is the world's best-selling record of all time with sales of over 50 million.
2 May 2009
A rare Motown seven-inch single sold for £25,742, ($38,378), setting a new world record. Kenny Burrell, from Fife in Scotland, put the unreleased 1965 single 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)' by Frank Wilson up for auction; the single was one of only two in the world. Motown boss Berry Gordy had all other copies destroyed after Wilson moved into songwriting and producing. British Record dealer John Manship, who organised the sale, said the buyer wished to remain anonymous. Wilson went on to write hits for The Supremes and The Four Tops.
24 Mar 2009
Motown drummer Uriel Jones, died aged 74 after suffering complications from a heart attack. Jones played on many Motown classics including 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine' by Marvin Gaye, ‘Cloud Nine’ by the Temptations, ‘I Second That Emotion’ by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and ‘For Once In My Life’ by Stevie Wonder.
6 Mar 2009
American singer, songwriter, musician David Williams died of cardiac arrest aged 58. He was best known for his work as a prolific session rhythm guitarist, working with artists including Earth, Wind & Fire, The Jacksons, Boz Scaggs, Michael Jackson, (on the Thriller album), Madonna, Bryan Ferry, Herbie Hancock and the Temptations.
25 Feb 2009
President Obama honoured Stevie Wonder his musical hero, with America's highest award for pop music, the Library of Congress' Gershwin prize at a ceremony at the White House. The president said the Motown legend had been the soundtrack to his youth and he doubted that his wife would have married him if he hadn't been a fan. Wonder's song 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered' had been the theme song during Obama's presidential campaign.
30 Oct 2008
American producer and saxophonist Mike Terry died in Detroit aged 68. Worked with Martha And The Vandellas, Jackie Wilson, Mary Wells, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Kim Weston, Marvin Gaye, The Isley Brothers and Edwin Starr.
17 Oct 2008
Four Tops singer Levi Stubbs died at his Detroit home, aged 72. Stubbs had been in ill health since being diagnosed with cancer in 1995 and a stroke and other health problems led him to stop touring in 2000. The group signed with Motown Records in 1963 and produced 20 Top 40 hits over the following 10 years, making music history with other acts in Berry Gordy's Motown stable.
16 Sep 2008
Norman Whitfield died in Los Angeles, California from diabetes and other illnesses. The Motown songwriter and producer collaborated with Barrett Strong on such hits as 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine', ‘Ain't Too Proud to Beg’, ‘(I Know) I'm Losing You’, ‘Cloud Nine’, ‘War’, ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’, and ‘Car Wash’.
18 Aug 2008
Soul singer Pervis Jackson died of cancer. Was a member of The Spinners (Also known as The Motown Spinners and The Detroit Spinners). Had the 1980 UK No.1 & US No.2 single 'Working My Way Back To You'.
12 Jul 2008
American singer Earl Nelson (Earl Lee Nelson) died in Lake Charles, Louisiana. One half of the duo, Bob And Earl, (recorded ‘Harlem Shuffle’ in 1963). Nelson sang background vocals on ‘Rockin' Robin’, a US No. 2 for the Jackson 5 in 1972.
4 May 2008
Thieves broke into the childhood home of Motown star Martha Reeves and stole about $1 million worth of uninsured recording equipment, including speakers, microphones and karaoke machines. A suspect was arrested at his home later in the day after he tried to sell the goods to a pawnshop for $400.
2 Feb 2007
US keyboardist Joe Hunter, a veteran session musician as one of the Funk Brothers who helped craft the distinctive Motown sound, died in Detroit, Michigan, at the age of 79. Hunter performed with such legendary Motown acts as Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Martha and the Vandellas.
30 Oct 2006
Winners at the 2006 Q Awards included The Arctic Monkeys who had four nominations, the Sheffield group won the best album and the people's choice awards, while U2 picked up the prize for innovation. Smokey Robinson was honoured with his first ever UK award for his outstanding contribution to music, and Boy George won the classic song award for Karma Chameleon. Muse won best live act, The Who received the Q legend award and Primal Scream won the Q groundbreaker award and Corinne Bailey Rae won best new act.
1 Jul 2005
Four Tops singer Renaldo "Obie" Benson died aged 69 in a Detroit hospital from lung cancer. He was diagnosed after having a leg amputated due to circulation problems. The Four Tops sold over 50 million records and had hits including 'Reach Out (I'll be There)' and 'I Can't Help Myself.' Benson also co-wrote 'What's Going On' which became a No.2 hit for Marvin Gaye.
18 Jan 2005
Motown producer Norman Whitfield pleaded guilty for failing to report royalty income he earned from 1995 to 1999 to the Internal Revenue Service. Facing charges of tax evasion on over $2 million worth of income, he was sentenced to six months of house arrest and a $25,000 fine. The producer was not imprisoned because of health problems.
3 Sep 2004
Songwriter and producer Billy Davis died in New York after a long illness. He co-wrote Jackie Wilson's, ‘Reet Petite’ and the jingle ‘I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke.’ Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and Gladys Knight all recorded his songs.
6 Aug 2004
Rick James was found dead at his Los Angeles home. Known as 'The King of Punk-Funk' James scored the 1981 US No.3 album ‘Street Songs’ and 1981 US No.16 single ‘Super Freak part 1’. In the late 60s James worked as a songwriter and producer for Motown, working with Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. Addicted to cocaine, he once admitted to spending $7,000 a week on drugs for five years.
22 Jul 2004
American singer, songwriter and producer Arthur Crier died of heart failure. Member of The Chimes and had worked with Little Eva, Gene Pitney, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Ben E. King, Johnny Nash and The Coasters.
6 Jul 2004
American R&B, soul singer-songwriter Syreeta Wright died after a two-year battle with bone cancer aged 58. Teamed up with Billy Preston on the 1980, No.1 US hit ‘With You I'm Born Again.’ Once worked as a secretary at Motown Records and married Stevie Wonder in 1970.
26 Mar 2004
Jan Berry of Jan and Dean, died at the age of 62, after being in poor health sustained in a 1966 car crash. Had the 1963 US No.1 & UK No.26 single 'Surf City', (co written by Beach Boy Brian Wilson). At the height of their fame, Jan and Dean hosted and performed at The T.A.M.I. Show, the film also featured The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.
24 Feb 2004
Estelle Axton, who helped create the legendary US soul music label Stax, died in hospital in Memphis, aged 85. Stax was home to Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Isaac Hayes and Booker T and the MG's and the Stax studio, 'Soulsville USA', was second only to Motown in its production of soul hits during its 1960s heyday.
13 May 2003
Michael Jackson launched a court case suing Motown Records. Jacko filed the lawsuit in LA, saying he hadn't been paid royalties due for the music he did with the Jackson Five in the 60s and 70s. The singer also claimed his music has been used in TV ads without his permission.
10 Nov 2002
American Keyboard player Johnny Griffith died of a heart attack aged 66. He had been a member of the Motown records in-house Funk Brothers studio band and played on Marvin Gaye's 'Heard It Through The Grapevine', ‘I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)’ by Four Tops, and ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’ by The Supremes.
7 Sep 2001
Michael Jackson was reunited onstage with the Jackson Five at his 30th Anniversary Celebration in New York City's Madison Square Garden. It ended Jackson's 11-year hiatus from performing in the U.S. Jackson was joined by Eminem, Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight, Britney Spears and Destiny's Child to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his singing career.
28 Jan 2000
Saxophonist and bandleader Thomas 'Beans' Bowles died of prostate cancer aged 73. Played on many Motown sessions including Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On', Martha and the Vandellas' 'Heat Wave' and The Supremes 'Baby Love' and wrote the melody on Stevie Wonder's 'Fingertips Pt. 2.'
20 Jun 1997
Lawrence Payton of The Four Tops died from liver cancer aged 59. (1965 US No.1 single 'I Can't Help Myself', 1967 UK No.6 single 'Standing In The Shadows of Love').
17 Mar 1997
American R&B singer Jermaine Stewart died of AIDS-related liver cancer at age 39. Stewart scored the 1986 UK No.2 and US No.5 single 'We Don't Have To...Take Our Clothes Off'. He gained recognition as a dancer on the television show Soul Train. Stewart later worked with Shalamar, The Temptations and Boy George.
17 Jan 1996
David Bowie Tom Donahue, The Jefferson Airplane, Gladys Knight And The Pips, Little Willie John, Pink Floyd, Pete Seeger, The Shirelles and The Velvet Underground were all inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
23 Feb 1995
American singer Melvin Franklin of The Temptations died of a brain seizure aged 52. Had the 1971 US No.1 & UK No.8 single 'Just My Imagination' and re-issued 'My Girl' UK No.2 in 1992. In 1978 Franklin was shot in the hand and the leg when trying to stop a man from stealing his car.
16 May 1993
US soul singer Marv Johnson died of a stroke. He had the US Top 10 single 'I Love The Way You Love' and the 1969 UK No.10 single 'I'll Pick A Rose For My Rose'. Johnson's recording of Berry Gordy's song 'Come To Me' became Motown Records first ever-single release in May 1959.
31 Oct 1992
Boyz II Men were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'End Of The Road', taken from the film 'Boomerang'. The quartet from Philadelphia were Motown's biggest selling act of the 1990s, with 5 US No.1,s.
5 Oct 1992
American singer Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations died aged 52 of lung cancer one year after having one lung removed. His was the lead voice on ‘The Way You Do The Things You Do’, ‘Get Ready’, and ‘Just My Imagination’. As a solo artist, Kendricks recorded several hits of his own during the 1970s, including the US No.1 single 'Keep On Truckin'.
26 Jul 1992
American singer and Motown artist, Mary Wells, referred to as The First Lady of Motown and who had a 1964 US No. 1 and UK No. 5 single ‘My Guy’, died aged 49 of laryngeal cancer. Wells was forced to give up her career and with no health insurance, was forced to sell her home. Wells’ old Motown friends including Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, The Temptations and Martha Reeves, along with Dionne Warwick, Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt, personally pledged donations in support.
3 Oct 1991
M.C. Hammer offered a $50000 reward for the return of Michael Jackson's white glove, which had been stolen from the Motown Museum. This was part of an on-going battle between Hammer and Michael Jackson.
10 Jun 1991
Temptations member Eddie Kendricks was arrested while attending the funeral of soul singer David Ruffin in Detroit on charges of owing $26,000 ($15,294) in child support.
1 Jun 1991
American soul singer David Ruffin died of a drug overdose. After taking a large amount of cocaine Ruffin passed out, a friend drove him to a hospital in Philadelphia, where he later died. With The Temptations, had the 1971 US No.1 & UK No. 8 single 'Just My Imagination' and 'My Girl' (which Ruffin sang lead vocals). Solo, (1975 US No.9 & UK No.10 single 'Walk Away From Love').
18 Jan 1989
At just 38 years old, Stevie Wonder became the youngest living person to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At a ceremony held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, other inductees include The Rolling Stones, The Temptations, Otis Redding and Dion DiMucci.
30 Jul 1988
Steve Winwood started a four week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Roll With It', a No.53 hit in the UK. Later Motown songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland were credited with co-writing the song due to its resemblance to the Junior Walker hit (I'm a) Roadrunner.
29 Jul 1987
Michigan state governor James Blanchard declared an annual state wide 'Four Tops Day', honouring the group for its contribution to American music.
27 Dec 1986
Jackie Wilson had the UK Christmas No.1 single with 'Reet Petite' two years after Wilson's death, following its use in a commercial for Levi's. Written in 1957 by Berry Gordy and Tyran Carlo, the success of the song helped Gordy fund the launch of Motown Records.
5 Apr 1984
Marvin Gaye's funeral took place at The Forest Lawn Cemetery, Los Angeles; Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy and other Motown singers, writers and producers, attended the service.
2 Aug 1983
James Jamerson died of complications stemming from cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure and pneumonia in Los Angeles, he was 47 years old. As one of The Funk Brothers he was the uncredited bassist on most of Motown Records' hits in the 1960s and early 1970s including songs by Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops and The Supremes. He eventually performed on nearly 30 No.1 pop hits.
25 Mar 1983
Motown Records celebrated its 25 anniversary with a concert in Pasadena, featuring; The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Jr. Walker, The Commodores, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and The Jackson 5.
26 Jun 1982
American singer and One Hit Wonder Charlene was at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'I've Never Been To Me'. The song was recorded in 1976 and was reissued by Motown records in 1982 by which time Charlene had moved to England and was working in a sweet shop in Ilford, east London.
29 Dec 1980
American singer, songwriter Tim Hardin died of a heroin overdose. Hardin wrote the songs 'If I Were A Carpenter' (covered by Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash and June Carter, The Four Tops, Leon Russell, Small Faces, Robert Plant and Bob Seger,) and 'Reason To Believe', (covered by Rod Stewart). Hardin appeared at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
6 Jan 1980
Georgeanna Tillman singer with Motown girl group The Marvelettes died from lupus and sickle cell anemia aged 35. The Marvelettes scored the 1961 US No.1 single 'Please Mr Postman'. In 1963 Tillman was diagnosed with lupus, she also had been diagnosed with sickle cell anemia during childhood.
6 Jul 1979
American singer, producer songwriter, Van McCoy died from a heart attack in Englewood, New Jersey. Van McCoy and the Soul City had the US No.1 single 'The Hustle'. Worked with Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Stylistics, Aretha Franklin and David Ruffin.
12 Aug 1978
The Commodores started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Three Times A Lady', also No.1 in the UK and becoming Motown's biggest British selling single. Lionel Richie wrote the song about his love for his wife, mother and grandmother hence 'Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady.'
22 Feb 1976
Florence Ballard of The Supremes died of cardiac arrest, age 32. She sang on 16 top 40 singles with the group, including ten number-one hits. Ballard had left the group in 1967, lost an $8 million (£4.7 million) lawsuit against Motown records, had struggled with alcoholism, depression, and poverty for three years and was living on welfare when she died.
21 Feb 1976
The Four Seasons were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'December '63 (Oh What A Night). Written by original Four Seasons keyboard player Bob Gaudio and his future wife Judy Parker who first met when both were working as producers for Motown Records. The song's lyrics were originally set in 1933 with the title "December 5th, 1933," and celebrated the repeal of Prohibition.
30 Jun 1975
The Jackson Five announced that they were leaving Motown Records for Epic Records. The brothers were forced to change their name to The Jacksons since Motown owned the other name.
25 Jan 1975
The Carpenters went to No.1 on the US singles chart with their version of The Marveletts 1961 hit 'Please Mr. Postman'. The song is notable as the first Motown song to reach the No.1 position on the Billboard singles chart late 1961.
27 Oct 1973
Gladys Knight and the Pips started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Midnight Train To Georgia'. It was the group's 18th Top 40 hit and first No.1. The record won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus and has become Knight's signature song.
17 Aug 1973
Former Temptations singer Paul Williams was found dead in his car, after shooting himself. He owed $80000 in taxes and his celebrity boutique business had failed.
15 Jun 1973
Motown Records released ‘Let's Get It On’ by Marvin Gaye. The track became Gaye's most successful single for Motown and one of his most well-known songs, with the help of the song's sexually explicit content.
27 Jan 1973
'Superstition' the lead single from Stevie Wonder's Talking Book album became his second No.1 single in the US, 10 years after his first No.1 hit. Jeff Beck created the original drum beat while in the studio with Wonder. After writing the song, Wonder offered it to Beck to record, but at the insistence of Berry Gordy, Wonder himself recorded it first. Beck was instead offered 'Cause We've Ended As Lovers', which he recorded on his Blow by Blow album in 1975.
28 Sep 1972
Motown Records released The Temptations version of ‘Papa Was a Rollin' Stone’. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1971, The Temptations version was a No.1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and won three Grammy Awards in 1973. The song had originally been recorded by Motown recording act The Undisputed Truth.
3 Apr 1971
The Temptations scored their second US No.1 with 'Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)'. The track is considered one of the Temptations' signature songs, and is notable for recalling the sound of the group's 1960s recordings. It is also the final Temptations single to feature founding members Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams.
12 Dec 1970
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Tears Of A Clown'. It was the group's 26th Top 40 hit and first No.1, and also a No.1 hit in the UK. The song was written by Stevie Wonder in 1966, and his producer Hank Cosby, Smokey Robinson wrote the lyrics.
31 Oct 1970
'Motown Chartbusters Vol 4' went to No.1 on the UK album chart. The album featured tracks from The Jackson Five, Marvin Gaye, & Tammi Terrell, The Four Tops, The Supremes, The Temptations and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.
17 Oct 1970
The Jackson Five started a five-week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'I'll Be There'. The group's fourth No.1 of 1970, it made No.4 in the UK. Motown records claimed the group had sold over 10 million records during this year.
12 Sep 1970
Smokey Robinson and The Miracles were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'The Tears Of A Clown', their first UK No.1. Stevie Wonder (who was discovered by Miracles member Ronnie White), and his producer Hank Cosby wrote the music for the song.
7 Apr 1970
On this week's US Top 5 singles chart; No.5, 'Bridge Over Trouble Water' by Simon and Garfunkel, No.4, 'Spirit In The Sky', Norman Greenbaum', No.3, 'Instant Karma!' by John Lennon, No.2, 'ABC' The Jackson 5 and at No.1, 'Let It Be', The Beatles.
16 Mar 1970
Motown singer Tammi Terrell died of a brain tumour at the age of 24. She had collapsed onstage on October 14, 1967 into Marvin Gaye's arms during a concert in Hampton, Virginia. Initially Terrell recorded solo, but from 1967 onwards she recorded a series of duets with Marvin Gaye, including the 1967 US No.5 'Your Precious Love' and the 1968, ‘Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing’. Marvin Gaye reacted to her death by taking a four year hiatus from concert performance and went into self-isolation.
31 Jan 1970
The Jackson Five went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'I Want You Back'. The song was originally written for Gladys Knight & The Pips and was the first of four No.1's for the group. It made No.2 in the UK.
18 Oct 1969
The Temptations scored their second US No.1 single with 'Can't Get Next To You'. A No.13 hit in the UK.
14 Oct 1969
The Supremes released 'Someday, We'll Be Together,' their last single with Diana Ross. It became the last of twelve American No.1 pop singles for Diana Ross & the Supremes on the Motown label. Although it was released as the final Supremes song featuring Diana Ross, it was recorded as Ross' first solo single and Supremes members Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong didn't sing on the recording.
11 Aug 1969
350 special guests were invited to see Motown Records new signings The Jackson Five play at The Daisy Club in Beverly Hills, California.
29 Jun 1969
American soul singer Shorty Long drowned aged 29 after his boat capsized on the Detroit River in Michigan. Had the 1968 US No.8 single 'Here Comes The Judge.' He acted as an MC for many of the Motown Revue shows and tours.
20 Apr 1969
Session drummer Benny Benjamin died. One of 'The Funk Brothers' he played on many Tamla Motown hits including, The Four Tops, Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and Stevie Wonder. The film 'Standing In The Shadows Of Motown' released in 2003 features his work. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 and was named the eleventh best drummer of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2016.
26 Mar 1969
Marvin Gaye was at No.1 on the UK singles chart, with 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine'. The song was first recorded by The Miracles and had also been a million seller in 1967 for Gladys Knight and the Pips.
12 Mar 1969
The Temptations became the first Motown recording act to win a Grammy Award - for 'Cloud Nine' for the Best Rhythm & Blues Group Performance. The single which reached No.2 on the US charts was the first of their singles to feature Dennis Edwards instead of David Ruffin in the lineup, and was the first of producer Norman Whitfield's psychedelic soul tracks.
14 Dec 1968
Marvin Gaye scored his first US No.1 single when 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' started a five-week run at the top of the charts. It was Marvin's 15th solo hit and also his first UK No.1 single in March 69. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1966, the single was first recorded by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles as well as Gladys Knight & the Pips.
30 Oct 1968
Marvin Gaye released 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' which became his first US No.1 single. It was Marvin's 15th solo hit and also his first UK No.1 single in March 69. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1966, the single was first recorded by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles as well as Gladys Knight & the Pips.
26 Jul 1968
The Jackson Five signed a one-year contract with Motown Records. They made history in 1970 as the first recording act to have their first four singles to reach No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100, with the songs being 'I Want You Back', 'ABC', 'The Love You Save' and 'I'll Be There'.
10 Feb 1968
The Four Tops 'Greatest Hits' was at No.1 on the UK album chart, the first No.1 album for the Tamla Motown label.
30 Dec 1967
The Beatles scored their 15th US No.1 with ‘Hello Goodbye’, Gladys Knight and the Pips were at No.2 with 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' and The Monkees at No.3 with 'Daydream Believer'
20 May 1967
The Young Rascals started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Groovin', also a No.8 hit in the UK. The group named themselves after a US comedy TV show. 'Groovin' was also covered by Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Gladys Knight & the Pips and Marvin Gaye.
10 Apr 1967
Marvin Gaye recorded his version of 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine'. The song was first recorded by The Miracles and had also been a million seller in 1967 for Gladys Knight and the Pips.
27 Oct 1966
The Four Tops were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Reach Out I'll Be There.' The group's only UK No.1.
15 Oct 1966
The Four Tops started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Reach Out, I'll Be There'. The group's second US No.1 and their first No.1 in the UK, (and becoming Motown's second UK chart-topper after The Supremes No. 1 hit 'Baby Love' in late 1964).
20 Nov 1965
The Supremes had their sixth US No.1 single with the Motown production team, Holland–Dozier–Holland's, 'I Hear A Symphony'.
15 Jul 1965
This weeks US Top three singles, No.3 The Byrds, 'Mr Tambourine Man', No.2 The Four Tops, 'I Can't Help Myself' and at No.1 The Rolling Stones with ’(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’.
23 Jun 1965
The Miracles released 'The Tracks of My Tears' on Motown's Tamla label. Written by Smokey Robinson, Pete Moore, and Marv Tarplin, the song became a US Top 20 hit and peaked at No.2 on Billboard’s R&B chart. The broadly acclaimed song was reissued in the UK in 1969, where became a Top Ten hit.
19 Jun 1965
The Four Tops went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'I Can't Help Myself'. Lead singer Levi Stubbs had not been satisfied with the recording session and was promised that he could do it again the following day, but no other session ever took place. The track that became a hit was just the second take of the song.
19 Apr 1965
The film T.A.M.I. (Teen-Age Music International) Show featuring The Rolling Stones, Supremes, Four Tops, James Brown, The Beach Boys and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles opened in London, England under the title Teenage Command Performance.
24 Mar 1965
The Temptations released 'Its Growing', the follow-up to 'My Girl'. The track was the first to feature David Ruffin as the Temptations new lead singer. Interestingly both 'My Girl' and 'Its Growing' were the only Motown tunes ever covered by Otis Redding.
22 Mar 1965
The Temptations released their second studio album Sing Smokey. As its name implies, it is composed entirely of songs written and produced by Smokey Robinson, and several other members of the Miracles as well. More importantly, it featured one of the well known Motown releases in its history 'My Girl'.
20 Mar 1965
The first of a twice-nightly UK package tour kicked of at London's Finsbury Park Astoria featuring Stevie Wonder, The Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes and The Temptations.
18 Mar 1965
The groundbreaking Motortown Revue landed at the Finsbury Park Astoria, London, England on the first night of a package tour that took them around the UK visiting 21 theatres for two shows a night, plus a live TV special. Topping the bill was Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas, and 14 year-old Little Stevie Wonder all backed by the legendary Funk Brothers.
6 Mar 1965
The Temptations went to No.1 on the US singles chart with the Smokey Robinson penned song 'My Girl', making the group the first male act to have a No.1 for Motown, The single only reached No.43 in the UK but made No.2 when re-issued in 1992.
5 Jan 1965
The Supremes spent the first of three sessions at Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A) recording 'Stop! In the Name of Love'. Written and produced by Motown's main production team Holland–Dozier–Holland, the song topped the US singles chart when it was released the following month.
25 Dec 1964
The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder and The Marvelettes all appeared at The Fox Theatre, Brooklyn, New York.
19 Nov 1964
The Supremes became the first all girl group to have a UK No.1 single when 'Baby Love' went to the top of the charts. Written and produced by Motown's main production team Holland–Dozier–Holland, it was also the second of five Supremes songs in a row to go to No.1 in the United States.
28 Oct 1964
The first of two nights billed as the 'Tami Show' took place at the Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica with; Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and The Rolling Stones.
25 Sep 1964
The Temptations begin recording 'My Girl' at Hitsville USA (Studio A), Detroit, Michigan, (the first Temptations single to feature David Ruffin on lead vocals). Written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, the song went on to become their first US No.1 and the first of fifteen US Top Ten hits.
12 Sep 1964
The Supremes, The Shangri-La's, Marvin Gaye, Dusty Springfield, The Ronettes, Millie Small, The Temptations, The Miracles and Little Anthony and the Imperials all appeared at The Fox Theatre, Brooklyn, New York.
22 Aug 1964
The Supremes started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Where Did Our Love Go' the girl group's first No.1. Holland–Dozier–Holland had originally composed the song for The Marvelettes to record it who rejected the song.
13 Aug 1964
The Supremes recorded 'Baby Love', written and produced by Motown's main production team Holland–Dozier–Holland, the song went on to be the group's first UK No.1 and second US chart topper. It was also the second of five Supremes songs in a row to go to No.1 in the United States.
19 Jun 1964
Martha and the Vandellas recored one of Motown's signature songs 'Dancing in the Street' at Hitsville U.S.A. in Detroit, Michigan. Written by Marvin Gaye, William "Mickey" Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter the song reached No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No.4 in the UK. Many artists have covered the song including, the Mamas & the Papas, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, The Kinks, Grateful Dead and Little Richard.
16 May 1964
Mary Wells started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'My Guy'. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, it made No.5 in the UK.
8 Apr 1964
The Supremes record 'Where Did Our Love Go' at Motown Studios in Detroit. The song would become their first US No.1 single. Originally founded as the Primettes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959, the Supremes were the most commercially successful of Motown's acts and are, to date, America's most successful vocal group with 12 No.1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100.
20 Mar 1964
The Temptations released their debut album Meet the Temptations on the Gordy (Motown) label. The lineup on the cover features Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, and newest Temptation Davis (later David) Ruffin. Ruffin had just joined the act three months before this album was released, and actually only appears on 'The Way You Do The Things You Do'.
9 Aug 1963
The first ever edition of 'Ready Steady Go! was shown on UK TV. Introduced by Keith Fordyce and 19 year-old Cathy McGowan. The first show featured The Searchers, Jet Harris, Pat Boone, Billy Fury and Brian Poole and The Tremeloes. The final show was in Dec 1966 after 175 episodes. Originally 30 minutes long, it expanded to 50 minutes the following year, and soon attracted the most popular artists, including The Beatles, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Rolling Stones, The Four Tops, The Kinks and many others.
23 Oct 1962
12 year old Little Stevie Wonder recorded his first single for Motown Records, 'Thank You For Loving Me All The Way' backed by the Funk Brothers.
16 Oct 1962
The first night of a two month Motown Records package tour started in Washington DC, featuring Marvin Gaye The Supremes, Mary Wells, The Miracles and 12 year old Stevie Wonder.
11 Dec 1961
The Marvelettes went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Please Mr Postman'. The session musicians on the track included 22 year old Marvin Gaye on drums. The song gave The Carpenters a US No.1 and UK No.2 single in 1975.
21 Aug 1961
Tamla Records released the Marvelettes first single, 'Please Mr. Postman'. The song went on to sell over a million copies and become the group's biggest hit, reaching the top of both the Billboard Pop and R&B charts. The song is notable as the first Motown song to reach the No.1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart.
13 Mar 1961
The Temptations auditioned for Motown Records. They were then known as the Elgins but soon changed their name. Now having sold tens of millions of albums, the Temptations are one of the most successful groups in music history, known for their choreography, distinct harmonies, and flashy wardrobe, the group was highly influential in the evolution of R&B and soul music.
12 Feb 1961
The Miracles' 'Shop Around' became Motown Record's first million-selling single. It was also the label's first No.1 hit on Billboard's R&B singles chart. In the following ten years, The Miracles would have six more million sellers.
15 Jan 1961
The Supremes signed a world wide recording contract with Motown Records. Originally founded as the Primettes, they became the most commercially successful of Motown's acts and are, to date, America's most successful vocal group with 12 No.1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100.
29 Sep 1959
Berry Gordy's third release on the newly established Motown Records, 'Bad Girl' by The Miracles, entered the Billboard Pop chart.
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