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  1. #1

    Graystone Ballroom Recording Studio

    In Keith Rylatt's new book, Hitsville: The Birth of Tamla Motown, Dave Godin was in the Hitsville studio when he was told by Berry Gordy that this is where we produce our soul records -- the records you like. THE OTHERS WHICH FEATURE STRINGS AND LARGE ORCHESTRAS ARE RECORDED IN OUR LARGE STUDIO AT THE GRAYSTONE BALLROOM.

    I was unaware that there was a recording studio at the Graystone Ballroom. Does anyone know any sampling of songs that were recorded there?

    Have any Motown Forum members ever been to the Graystone Ballroom?

  2. #2
    The version of STRANGE LOVE on Mary Wells' recent LOST AND FOUND collection was recorded there. The Supremes' COME ON BOY was recorded there as well.

  3. #3
    Tommy Good recorded there too

  4. #4
    The Velvelettes' "Monkey (Hoky Poky)" was recorded there. (So, NOT "the music we like", eh?)

    According to the Session Logs, Graystone was used for recording various artists just from June-September 1963, then again for some Bobby Breen sessions in Mar/Apr 1964. So in fact they'd stopped using it by the time Dave Godin visited in July 1964. Most orchestral recordings from 1964 on were done either in New York or California.

    I don't know whether recording equipment was permanently installed at the Graystone, or whether they transported the kit there when they needed it - probably the latter. We know they had portable kit by 1963, from the live albums that were released that year.
    Last edited by keith_hughes; 12-04-2016 at 09:12 AM.

  5. #5
    Here is a list compiled from DFTMC where Graystone Ballroom was indicated as the recording location.

    ID TRACK ARTIST REC_ID REC_LOC
    364 364 Better Un-Said LaBrenda Ben 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    396 396 Birth Of The Blues, The Stevie Wonder 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    459 459 Boss Sauce Choker Campbell 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    510 510 Bye Baby The Supremes 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    701 701 Come On Boy The Supremes 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    731 731 Congratulations LaBrenda Ben 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    804 804 Danny Boy Liz Lands 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    842 842 Dear Parents Thelma Brown 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    868 868 Devil In His Heart Carolyn Crawford 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    1084 1084 Even If You Don't Mean It LaBrenda Ben 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    2406 2406 In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning Liz Lands 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    2503 2503 It's A Wonderful World Choker Campbell 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    2588 2588 I've Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) Marvin Gaye 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    3352 3352 (Monkey) Hokey Pokey The Velvelettes 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    4187 4187 Silver Bells The Miracles 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    4793 4793 This Ole Heart The Quails 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    4989 4989 Undecided Stevie Wonder 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5278 5278 White Christmas The Miracles 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5350 5350 Wind It Up Shorty Long 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5357 5357 Winter Wonderland The Miracles 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5588 5588 Your Cheatin' Heart Stevie Wonder 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5656 5656 You're Wonderful Marvin Gaye 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5753 193 As Long As She Needs Me Marvin Gaye 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5854 701 Come On Boy The Supremes 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    6109 1896 I Don't Want To Take A Chance Mary Wells 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    6255 2549 It's Party Time Marvin Gaye 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    6578 4058 Satin Doll Stevie Wonder 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    7015 701 Come On Boy The Supremes 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    7131 2111 I Wish You Love Liz Lands 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    7233 3372 Moritat (Mack The Knife) Stevie Wonder 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    7322 4446 Strange Love Mary Wells 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    7752 3676 Old Love (Let's Try It Again) Mary Wells 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    9182 1151 False Words Hattie Littles 2 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit

  6. #6
    I'm quite certain there was no permanent recording equipment at the Ballroom. More than likely remote equipment was brought in for the recording dates.

  7. #7
    I was invited to the opening of a "Jazz" museum , which was somewhere in Greektown.
    I might be wrong but I have memories of connecting this to the Graystone.

  8. #8
    Choker Campbell's unreleased album "Shades Of Time" was recorded there also.

  9. #9
    Feverinthefunkhouse:

    That is quite a listing of recordings that you abstracted from the www.dftmc.info. Now if only we could get to hear some of them in a collection. That would be wonderful. It must have taken you hours upon hours to accumulate this information. Thanks. I appreciate seeing this. Please check your forum email as I just sent you a private message. Thanks.
    Last edited by woodward; 08-07-2018 at 04:05 PM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by FeverInTheFunkhouse View Post
    Here is a list compiled from DFTMC where Graystone Ballroom was indicated as the recording location.

    ID TRACK ARTIST REC_ID REC_LOC
    364 364 Better Un-Said LaBrenda Ben 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    396 396 Birth Of The Blues, The Stevie Wonder 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    459 459 Boss Sauce Choker Campbell 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    510 510 Bye Baby The Supremes 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    701 701 Come On Boy The Supremes 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    731 731 Congratulations LaBrenda Ben 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    804 804 Danny Boy Liz Lands 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    842 842 Dear Parents Thelma Brown 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    868 868 Devil In His Heart Carolyn Crawford 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    1084 1084 Even If You Don't Mean It LaBrenda Ben 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    2406 2406 In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning Liz Lands 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    2503 2503 It's A Wonderful World Choker Campbell 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    2588 2588 I've Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) Marvin Gaye 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    3352 3352 (Monkey) Hokey Pokey The Velvelettes 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    4187 4187 Silver Bells The Miracles 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    4793 4793 This Ole Heart The Quails 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    4989 4989 Undecided Stevie Wonder 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5278 5278 White Christmas The Miracles 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5350 5350 Wind It Up Shorty Long 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5357 5357 Winter Wonderland The Miracles 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5588 5588 Your Cheatin' Heart Stevie Wonder 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5656 5656 You're Wonderful Marvin Gaye 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5753 193 As Long As She Needs Me Marvin Gaye 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    5854 701 Come On Boy The Supremes 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    6109 1896 I Don't Want To Take A Chance Mary Wells 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    6255 2549 It's Party Time Marvin Gaye 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    6578 4058 Satin Doll Stevie Wonder 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    7015 701 Come On Boy The Supremes 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    7131 2111 I Wish You Love Liz Lands 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    7233 3372 Moritat (Mack The Knife) Stevie Wonder 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    7322 4446 Strange Love Mary Wells 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    7752 3676 Old Love (Let's Try It Again) Mary Wells 1 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    9182 1151 False Words Hattie Littles 2 Graystone Ballroom, Detroit
    None of these appear to have been hits. If they used the Greystone for recording, it had to be specifically because of space requirements.

  11. #11
    See https://www.ebay.com/itm/401578033815?ul_noapp=true

    This acetate can be dated from the Dub # to July 1963. Presumably it's a local radio promo for a live show at the Graystone. Perhaps the lucky winner of this auction will tell us all some day ...

  12. #12
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    From what I remember, Motown used The Greystone for recordings that used a full orchestra, because it had room for them. Most of the sessions were for Jazz and Show Tunes. Choker Campbell's orchestra/big band played on many of them, as well as Maurice King. The Funk brothers didn't, as a rule, as far as I remember. That's why Mary Wells' jazzier tunes are on the list, as well as Liz Lands', and Marvin Gaye's Jazz cuts, as well as Bluesy Jazz cuts by LaBrenda Ben, and Christmas songs by The Miracles.

    Given that, I'm not sure why "Wind it Up" by Shorty Long, "Come On Boy" by The Supremes, and "Hokey Pokey Monkey" by The Velvelettes are on there. Surely they didn't rent time there just for their recording overflow needs.

  13. #13
    BG bought the Graystone Ballroom for 123,000 around June, 1963. (See http://www.historicdetroit.org/build...tone-ballroom/ for more info about the building and its Motown connection.) So he wouldn't have needed to rent time there, though the portable studio equipment would have had to be brought there for sessions.

    I'd be interested to know more about Motown's remote recording equipment. Given the number of shows they recorded around Detroit, I wonder if they had it installed in a van that they could park outside the venue and run leads from there into the building. John Schroeder in his autobiography explains how he set up such a facility in the UK in 1963, and thought he might have been the first person to have such a resource in Britain. Given that he had close connections with Motown at the time (he was A&R manager at Oriole, the company who released Motown records in England), he might have got the idea from them ...

  14. #14
    Keith, I'm not sure what was used at that time. When I arrived on the scene in 1969, the company was using an 8 track recorder (possibly a Scully, but I can't be sure) and related equipment. We would just stow the gear in a van and go to the site where recording was needed. A good example of the use of this equipment was Rare Earth's "Live At The Pharmacy".. In actuality, the Pharmacy was a deserted drug store the band used for a rehearsal hall.

  15. #15
    Thanks for this, Ralph. I'd wondered about "The Pharmacy"! Seems unlikely they would have had the equipment "permanently installed" in a van back in the Graystone days.

    I've seen some of the tape boxes for 1962/1963 recordings at the Apollo in NY, and some of the tapes are 3 track and some 4. I guess the kit for that would have been rented locally, but it does suggest that there must have been 4 track facilities at Hitsville in 1963, or they wouldn't have been able to mix the tracks they used for the "Recorded Live" LPs they issued that year.

  16. #16
    As others have already mentioned, Berry Gordy purchased the Graystone Ballroom in 1963 primarily as a facility for groups and artists to use for developing and perfecting their stage routines in preparation for touring and live concert performances.

    The concerts held there on a regular basis was also useful in enabling acts to raise their profiles and promote the company brand thru live concerts aimed at local teenage audiences in regular competitions like the "Battle Of The Bands" etc.

    It's spacious interior also facilitated the recording of tunes where a large orchestra was required, so it enabled the development of performances aimed at a more middle-aged and sophisticated audiences such as those of the Las Vegas hotels and the Copacabana in N.Y.C.

    Despite all these positives it's surprising to see that it's usefulness to the company seems to have been fairly short-lived, probably less than three years. By January 1966, Motown had purchased a large building located directly opposite Hitsville - 2657 West Grand, for Artist Development and a few months later, the purchase from Ed Wingate of Golden World with it's sophisticated and larger recording studio enabled more recording sessions using orchestras etc. to be undertaken thus taking the pressure of the smaller and more cramped facility at "Hitsville".

    It would appear that by the end of '66 the Greystone Ballroom was pretty much surplus to Gordy's requirements. By late '67 / early '68 Motown moved from West Grand Blvd. into the Donovan Building on Woodward and I'm not aware of any recording or rehearsal work taking place at the Graystone Ballroom, so it seems strange that Motown still retained the building right up until they re-located to L.A. in '72.

    Does anyone know if it was still being used as a regular concert venue between '66 and '72?

  17. #17
    So that first list was actually every track where Graystone Ballroom was listed as a "studio." Here are all those where it was designated as a "live" performance venue. Also, is it Graystone or Greystone?
    TRACK ARTIST REC_LOC_TYPE STUDIO_VENUE

    Anyone Who Had A Heart The Supremes live Graystone Ballroom
    I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face The Velvelettes live Graystone Ballroom
    Days Of Wine And Roses, The Marvin Gaye live Graystone Ballroom
    Good News The Velvelettes live Graystone Ballroom
    Mojo Hannah Marvin Gaye live Graystone Ballroom
    Monkey Time, The The Velvelettes live Graystone Ballroom
    One Of These Days Marvin Gaye live Graystone Ballroom
    Run, Run, Run The Supremes live Graystone Ballroom
    Standing At The Crossroads Of Love The Supremes live Graystone Ballroom
    There He Goes The Velvelettes live Graystone Ballroom
    When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes The Supremes live Graystone Ballroom
    Get My Hands On Some Lovin' Marvin Gaye live Graystone Ballroom
    Hitch Hike Marvin Gaye live Graystone Ballroom
    Make Someone Happy The Supremes live Graystone Ballroom
    Stubborn Kind Of Fellow Marvin Gaye live Graystone Ballroom
    Time Changes Things The Supremes live Graystone Ballroom
    Let Me Go The Right Way The Supremes live Graystone Ballroom
    Nitty Gritty, The The Velvelettes live Graystone Ballroom
    Pride And Joy Marvin Gaye live Graystone Ballroom
    Last edited by FeverInTheFunkhouse; 08-10-2018 at 03:24 PM.

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