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Classic Motown. 1959 - 1988. 1957. Detroit Song writer Berry Gordy hits the pop charts for the first time. Gordy will eventually become the founder of Motown Records. 1959. Encouraged by his first top 10 hit as a songwriter, Berry Gordy decides to launch the Tamla Record Company.

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Classic Motown

1959 - 1988


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1957

  • Detroit Song writer Berry Gordy hits the pop charts for the first time.

  • Gordy will eventually become the founder of Motown Records.


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1959

  • Encouraged by his first top 10 hit as a songwriter, Berry Gordy decides to launch the Tamla Record Company.

  • Gordy started Tamla with an $800 family loan.

  • Gordy changed the name a year later to Motown Records


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1960

  • Motown settles into its first headquarters, a two story, single roofed house in Detroit.

  • Out front, Gordy puts up a “Hitsville, USA” sign.

  • The basement of the house was turned into a recording studio.



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1961

  • Motown receives its first number 1 hit on the R&B charts. “Shop Around” by the Miracles

  • The song would hit number 2 on the pop charts.

  • Later that year, Gordy signs the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and the Temptations.


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1961

  • Also in 61’, Marvin Gaye would release his first album for Motown called “The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye”

  • Motown would also get its first number 1 hit on the pop charts “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes


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1962

  • 3 of the top songwriters of the time, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland are hired at Motown.

  • These three would create the HDH Songwriting and Production Team


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1962

  • The Motown Special was the first televised multi-artist concert.

  • The concert featured The Miracles, Mary Wells, The Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, and was hosted my comedian Bill Murry.


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1963

  • “Little Stevie Wonder the 12 Year Old Genius” becomes Motown’s first number 1 pop album.

  • Wonder grows up to be a rock and roll legend. Blinded during birth, he learned to play the piano when he was 5.


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Listening No. 6

Title: Superstition

Composer/Artist: Stevie Wonder

Genre: R&B

Period: 20th Century (1972)


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1964

  • The Supremes’ “You Cant Hurry Love” becomes a number 1 hit for Motown.

  • The Supremes become the first female group to have two number 1 hits,

  • Diana Ross (lead singer) is the highest paid female entertainer of the time.


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Listening No. 7

Title: You Can’t Hurry Love

Composer: Brian Holland

Artist: Diana Ross and the Supremes

Genre: R&B

Period: 20th Century (1963)


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1965

  • The temptations have their first number 1 hit for Motown.

  • My Girl reaches the top of the pop and R&B charts.

  • Both songs were written by fellow Motown artist Smokey Robinson.


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Listening No. 8

Title: My Girl

Composer: Smokey Robinson

Artist: The Temptations

Genre: Rock and Roll

Period: 20th Century (1965)


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1967

  • Gladys Knight and the Pips release the original version of “I Heard it through the Grape Vine”

  • The song was originally intended for Marvin Gaye who came out with a darker version a year later. Gaye’s version would become the most sold single in Motown history.


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Listening No. 8

Title: I Heard it through the Grapevine

Composers: The Funk Brothers

Artist: Marvin Gaye

Genre: Soul

Period: 20th Century (1966)


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1970

  • Barry Gordon signs a young black singing group called the Jackson 5.

  • The Jackson 5 would become a teen sensation and would also hit number 1 on the pop charts in 1970 with “I Want You Back”


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Listening No. 9

Title: I Want you Back

Composer: HDH

Artists: Jackson 5

Genre: Soul/R&B

Period: 20th Century (1969)


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1971

  • Michael Jackson releases his first solo song.

  • The song is called “Got to be there”

  • The 13 year old is an immediate hit and eventually is considered the king of pop


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1972

  • Barry Gordy signs a new group to Motown records called the Commodores

  • The Commodores’ lead singer is Lionel Riche who will eventually have a successful solo career.


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1984

  • Motown legend Marvin Gaye dies April 1st.

  • Gaye’s father shot him after an intense financial argument.

  • Gaye was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.


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1988

  • Barry Gordy sells Motown Records for 61 Million Dollars.

  • That year Gordy is also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

  • Motown Record is the 2nd most profitable record label to date.


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