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  1. #1

    The beginnings of Motown (come on y'all said y'all wanted healthy discussions! LOL)

    I think we can start talking about the beginnings of what became Motown here. I think we know some background of the story of how it came to be but I never thought we got the full story. Everybody thinks Motown was the vision of just one person but I think it wasn't as that obvious because Detroit was always a city in a musical transition. Let's not forget Gwen Gordy, Roquel Davis (or Billy Davis) and Harvey Fuqua also played roles in its development (and yes Smokey & the Miracles too) but I think there's more to the story than the PR tells us. I would hate to think that most of the founders of the early labels are dead but I think some of us, who were around, could bring light to it and what they heard from books that discussed this (and not any drama-fueled story from their private lives).

    Now y'all complaining about too much of this and too much of that, well I'm giving y'all an opportunity.

    Like James Brown said, I need help, can't do it alone. LOL

  2. #2
    Motown is one area where I don't know much beyond the official stories.

  3. #3
    ^ That's why I want to know if anyone HERE know anything more than what's being told. The official stories kinda contradict themselves to me.

  4. #4
    topdiva1 Guest
    Raynoma Gordy Singleton - has an interesting story or stories on the start of Motown. One in which this ex - wife of Mr. Gordy states she played a major part. She sounds very credible, but of course her version was disputed by some.

  5. #5
    Raynoma has often said she co-founded the first publishing company she and Berry had but she later sold her rights. She also was a member of the background vocal group, the Rayber Voices.

  6. #6
    i can only "know" what i've read in books and on here and MT etc.and depending on the subject up for discussion (have a guess!) it has to taken with buckets of sodium chloride.now there ARE people on here that DO know,people that were there either at or just after the "begining".

  7. #7
    topdiva1 Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    ^ That's why I want to know if anyone HERE know anything more than what's being told. The official stories kinda contradict themselves to me.
    Motown is just that - a series of mysterious contradictions - that most likely will never fully be revealed. That is what partly makes Motown so interesting - the veiled illusion and the exciting beat of the Motown music.

  8. #8
    ^^^^ Exactly, tamla. I wonder where they're at lol I would love to hear from them.

    But yeah Motown is a series of contradictions. I still want to know more stuff of its development. I sure wished I was there during that time when Detroit was at a musical crossroads during that time.

  9. #9
    topdiva1 Guest
    Motown Records put Detroit on the map - far more than GM and flashy cars - It is a shame what has happened to a great and once proud city.

    Berry Gordy's Motown Records will be debated and talked about for years. The interest in this company will remain high for decades to come. Still - it's foundation and origin are not completely clear.

  10. #10

    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by topdiva1 View Post
    Motown Records put Detroit on the map - far more than GM and flashy cars - It is a shame what has happened to a great and once proud city.

    Berry Gordy's Motown Records will be debated and talked about for years. The interest in this company will remain high for decades to come. Still - it's foundation and origin are not completely clear.
    There are some CDs of Berry Gordy's earliest productions before Motown was formed that will help tell the story. He was an independent producer/songwriter in Detroit before he began Hitsville/Motown.
    Books and CDs by Mabel John, the Satintones and the first volume of the Complete Motown Singles also have a lot of information on Motown's formative years. One thing that's often overlooked is how once Berry Gordy got involved in the music business, other members of his family (including his in-laws) also had record companies, labels, etc.
    Last edited by Motown_M_1056; 11-02-2010 at 04:05 PM.

  11. #11
    ^ Yeah I knew of Berry's productions going back to, I believe 1956.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    I think we can start talking about the beginnings of what became Motown here. I think we know some background of the story of how it came to be but I never thought we got the full story. Everybody thinks Motown was the vision of just one person but I think it wasn't as that obvious because Detroit was always a city in a musical transition. Let's not forget Gwen Gordy, Roquel Davis (or Billy Davis) and Harvey Fuqua also played roles in its development (and yes Smokey & the Miracles too) but I think there's more to the story than the PR tells us. I would hate to think that most of the founders of the early labels are dead but I think some of us, who were around, could bring light to it and what they heard from books that discussed this (and not any drama-fueled story from their private lives).

    Now y'all complaining about too much of this and too much of that, well I'm giving y'all an opportunity.

    Like James Brown said, I need help, can't do it alone. LOL
    Add Miss Ray (Raynoma Liles), Al Abrams, Janie Bradford and Barney Ales, and then we can talk (smile).

  13. #13
    ^ Well you just did that, now let's! LOL

  14. #14
    Here's something that will probably never be resolved as to whether or not it is true. I once heard that when Barrett Strong was recording 'Money' two white guys were walking past with their guitars and asked if they could join in. Supposedly they did and appear on the final version that was released. Truth or false. I don't think we will every know.

  15. #15
    ..The Gordy sisters play an immeasurable part..they agreed to the financing at family meetings and ran around doing everything they could...

  16. #16
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    Berry was writing songs in 1956. But, I believe he didn't start actually producing records until he produced "Ooh Shucks"/"Dead Wrong" by The Five Stars (formerly The Five Jets, later The Voice Masters and morphed into The Originals) in 1957 for George Goldner's Mark-X Records.

    In addition to Raynoma Gordy, Gwen Gordy, Roquel (Billy) Davis and Harvey Fuqua, and Smokey Robinson. - Janie Bradford, Beans Bowles, Maurice King, George Goldner, Bristoe Bryant, Joe Hunter, Popcorn Wylie, Robert Bateman, Brian and Eddie Holland, Sonny Sanders all played roles in the beginnings of Motown.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by MotownSteve View Post
    Here's something that will probably never be resolved as to whether or not it is true. I once heard that when Barrett Strong was recording 'Money' two white guys were walking past with their guitars and asked if they could join in. Supposedly they did and appear on the final version that was released. Truth or false. I don't think we will every know.
    Barrett is still alive. He has a Myspace page too. You could contact and ask him. One of his girl cousins chatted with me a while back on Youtube.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    Berry was writing songs in 1956. But, I believe he didn't start actually producing records until he produced "Ooh Shucks"/"Dead Wrong" by The Five Stars (formerly The Five Jets, later The Voice Masters and morphed into The Originals) in 1957 for George Goldner's Mark-X Records.

    In addition to Raynoma Gordy, Gwen Gordy, Roquel (Billy) Davis and Harvey Fuqua, and Smokey Robinson. - Janie Bradford, Beans Bowles, Maurice King, George Goldner, Bristoe Bryant, Joe Hunter, Popcorn Wylie, Robert Bateman, Brian and Eddie Holland, Sonny Sanders all played roles in the beginnings of Motown.
    Don't forget Anna and Esther Gordy lol
    But yeah it's amazing how everyone was that involved in the beginning. I also think a certain Norman Whitfield also joined the company around '59 I could be wrong though but I remembered seeing that in his obituaries.

  19. #19
    topdiva1 Guest
    Motown was very much a cooperative effort in the beginning - with everyone pulling and pushing for all around success.

  20. #20
    motown didnt put detroit on the map.what were the greatest car producers in the world did that.flashy was not the word for the 1st mass produced car the model t ford 15,000,000 built.in terms of dollar bills motown didnt dent the surface of the big three's billions
    motown was able to flourish in the early years from local people because the size of the population drawn to either work or service the car industry.

  21. #21
    We'll never get the full story and although that can be somewhat frustrating it can be fun to because little pieces are always popping up,heck after fifty years even berry don't recall each itty bitty detail but what we got is pretty good...motown an berry forever!!!

  22. #22
    smark21 Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by tamla617 View Post
    motown didnt put detroit on the map.what were the greatest car producers in the world did that.flashy was not the word for the 1st mass produced car the model t ford 15,000,000 built.in terms of dollar bills motown didnt dent the surface of the big three's billions
    motown was able to flourish in the early years from local people because the size of the population drawn to either work or service the car industry.
    Don't forget the music programs offered in the Detroit Public Schools--that helped, thanks partly due to the wealth of the auto industry which provided tax money to support the schools so they could offer a first class music education program.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by tamla617 View Post
    motown didnt put detroit on the map.what were the greatest car producers in the world did that.flashy was not the word for the 1st mass produced car the model t ford 15,000,000 built.in terms of dollar bills motown didnt dent the surface of the big three's billions
    motown was able to flourish in the early years from local people because the size of the population drawn to either work or service the car industry.
    Tamla, you got it. The City of Detroit is over 300 years old. Detroit was the "Motor City" due to the automobile industry. Motown enhanced the city's Worldwide image in terms of talent and the recording arts.
    Last edited by marv2; 11-03-2010 at 11:31 PM.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by smark21 View Post
    Don't forget the music programs offered in the Detroit Public Schools--that helped, thanks partly due to the wealth of the auto industry which provided tax money to support the schools so they could offer a first class music education program.
    They had the exact same music programs down the road in Toledo Ohio and up the road in Flint,Michigan funded by the same industry and feeder industries such as the Glass Manufacturers! Toledo and Flint did not have Motown, in town is the only difference.

  25. #25
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    Didn't Detroit start as a French Fort (Fort Detroit) in the late 1600s?

    I think Norman Whitfield might have hung around Motown starting in 1960, or so, as many young people did. But, I don't believe that he actually worked for them in 1959, or even 1960. He was working with Berry's in-laws (The Colemans) his first wife, Thelma's parents, for their Thelma Records, and affiliated K.O. (Knockout Records) in 1962-early 1963, before joining Motown.

  26. #26
    Someone that was there, that was on SD at one time, told me that THE book that could be written on Motown, without calling people "trash" and getting into what 19 year old slept with who and who's father pimped out their Mother....................the one that would deal with the facts and would actually know them, would come from Esther Edwards.

    The trouble is that she, too, is old..........................and either there is not enough interest or she is not interested.

    I wonder if Bankhouse Dave has ever contacted her........................Dave are you still on here???

    For fans, Motown fans, soul music fans.................even if it was a self published effort, this might be a goldmine.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    Didn't Detroit start as a French Fort (Fort Detroit) in the late 1600s?

    I think Norman Whitfield might have hung around Motown starting in 1960, or so, as many young people did. But, I don't believe that he actually worked for them in 1959, or even 1960. He was working with Berry's in-laws (The Colemans) his first wife, Thelma's parents, for their Thelma Records, and affiliated K.O. (Knockout Records) in 1962-early 1963, before joining Motown.

    Yeah it did. In regards to Norman. He wasn't from Detroit, he was from New York.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    Didn't Detroit start as a French Fort (Fort Detroit) in the late 1600s?

    I think Norman Whitfield might have hung around Motown starting in 1960, or so, as many young people did. But, I don't believe that he actually worked for them in 1959, or even 1960. He was working with Berry's in-laws (The Colemans) his first wife, Thelma's parents, for their Thelma Records, and affiliated K.O. (Knockout Records) in 1962-early 1963, before joining Motown.
    Berry married Thelma in Toledo Ohio

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    Someone that was there, that was on SD at one time, told me that THE book that could be written on Motown, without calling people "trash" and getting into what 19 year old slept with who and who's father pimped out their Mother....................the one that would deal with the facts and would actually know them, would come from Esther Edwards.

    The trouble is that she, too, is old..........................and either there is not enough interest or she is not interested.

    I wonder if Bankhouse Dave has ever contacted her........................Dave are you still on here???

    For fans, Motown fans, soul music fans.................even if it was a self published effort, this might be a goldmine.
    Esther ain't writing no books. I thought I told you that in the old Forum.

  30. #30
    a french guy called antoine cadillac (where the car marque got its name from) was the "founder" of detroit,but there were small settlements there before.there was a french called fort ponchartrain (to stop us brits!)this was around mid 1600's.i might not have it absolutley right but thats the bits i do remember.there was a chain of french forts to protect trade routes.

    btw detroit means "the straits" (french)

  31. #31
    Detroit also became one of , if not the largest cities in America based on total square miles within the city.

  32. #32
    So then what is the very first recording that people are aware of that made a name for BG? Is it Reet Petite by Jackie Wilson?

    BG in his book intimates that he also had a hand in writing "Jim Dandy got Married" for Lavern Baker. Certainly he has links to this artiste but he is not credited as co-author on any release of that song I have seen.

    There are a few BG penned songs that appear in the 57-58 period across a variety of labels and artistes but one question that has always intrigued me is what was his first released production as opposed to released composition. Any ideas people?

  33. #33
    midnightman... i'll have to do a bit of meditating before i can add a substantive comment to such a well thought out and timely (based on past discussions) topic. Good Show! ditto to the additional posters! I'm loving the informational tidbits whether they have to be taken with salt or not.

    this stick-to-the-point topic has the potential to become a "Best of the Forum". like most, i'm all for a little good-natured fluff occasionally, but let's hope this is the start of a welcome trend on these boards! i will try to do my part.

  34. #34
    As legend has it...sir berry of gordy sailed down the motown river and as he surveyed all around him he knew that it would take miracles to make his dream come true because there were temptations but he was determined to shop around until he found the fabeled land of hitsville and what a supreme time it would be,perhaps he would meet gladys and her knights the pips and he could only hope that she wasn't a bad girl and that he would be allowed to shop around as he continued sir berry knew that he had better get ready for he knew not what was way over there in the distants as he held on to his trusty shotgun but as the fog began to fade away he thought to himself i'm in a different world now as he spotted castles in the sand and as he glanced back for one last look sir berry knew that this new land would be his pride and joy!

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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Views: 280
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    Didn't Detroit start as a French Fort (Fort Detroit) in the late 1600s?

    I think Norman Whitfield might have hung around Motown starting in 1960, or so, as many young people did. But, I don't believe that he actually worked for them in 1959, or even 1960. He was working with Berry's in-laws (The Colemans) his first wife, Thelma's parents, for their Thelma Records, and affiliated K.O. (Knockout Records) in 1962-early 1963, before joining Motown.
    Thanks for correcting.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by positivesoul View Post
    midnightman... i'll have to do a bit of meditating before i can add a substantive comment to such a well thought out and timely (based on past discussions) topic. Good Show! ditto to the additional posters! I'm loving the informational tidbits whether they have to be taken with salt or not.

    this stick-to-the-point topic has the potential to become a "Best of the Forum". like most, i'm all for a little good-natured fluff occasionally, but let's hope this is the start of a welcome trend on these boards! i will try to do my part.
    Cool. Look to hearing from you.

  37. #37
    arrr n bee.............brilliant!.............is it true???!!

    you forgot about the keepers of the castle fort ops!

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by arrr&bee View Post
    As legend has it...sir berry of gordy sailed down the motown river and as he surveyed all around him he knew that it would take miracles to make his dream come true because there were temptations but he was determined to shop around until he found the fabeled land of hitsville and what a supreme time it would be,perhaps he would meet gladys and her knights the pips and he could only hope that she wasn't a bad girl and that he would be allowed to shop around as he continued sir berry knew that he had better get ready for he knew not what was way over there in the distants as he held on to his trusty shotgun but as the fog began to fade away he thought to himself i'm in a different world now as he spotted castles in the sand and as he glanced back for one last look sir berry knew that this new land would be his pride and joy!
    I Like that . Very nice arrr&bee

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatmaninthethirdrow View Post
    There are a few BG penned songs that appear in the 57-58 period across a variety of labels and artistes but one question that has always intrigued me is what was his first released production as opposed to released composition. Any ideas people?
    As I stated above, I've read and heard many times that he first produced "Ooh Shucks"/"Dead Wrong" by The Five Stars (formerly The Five Jets, later The Voice Masters and morphed into The Originals) in 1957 for George Goldner's Mark-X Records.

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