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  1. #1

    Motown and the UK in early 70s

    although i'm starting this with DR and Supremes data, i'm really wanting to discuss overall motown

    in 70 and 71, both DR and the Sup had tremendous success in the UK. singles were charting much higher there than they mostly did in the US. and their consistency on the UK charts was stronger as two entities than when they were the DRATS

    was this the case with the Temps, J5, Stevie, Four tops?

  2. #2
    Motown was a slow burner in the UK in the 1960s. By 1967, we had a national pop radio station with many DJs who were brought in from the Pirate off shore radio stations ( who featured a lot of soul and Motown). However, Motown /soul music didn't gain great chart success until the new pop station, BbC Radio 1.
    Motown were lucky in that the most influential show was the Breakfast show hosted by Motown fan and supporter Tony Blackburn. Any record he championed ( and he played lots of Motown) had a very good chance of becoming a pop/chart hit. Records like "Tears of a clown", " I'm still waiting", " Indiana wants me" etc all became hits because of his show. Acts like Supremed, Diana Ross, Four Tops etc were plugged a lot.
    When Blackburn was replaced , by Noel Edmonds, the playlist of the show drastically reduced soul/Motown music.
    Motown in the UK in the late 60s/70s also had a boost from a reissue policy of classic mid 60s hits that made little impact first tone around. These hits, played alongside current early 70s releases made Motown popular for a few years.

  3. #3
    Sup Fan
    Also you must understand that in the UK, probably more than the USA, Motown was supported by fans of the label rather than individual artists.
    There weren't 1000s of Supemes fans. But Motown fans bought these releases as they would other artists. Obviously the casual pop fan bought chart hits, and this is were Tony Blackburn came in..

    His show had the power to crossover to make big pop hits whilst Motown fans bought records across the label roster.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Sup Fan
    Also you must understand that in the UK, probably more than the USA, Motown was supported by fans of the label rather than individual artists.
    There weren't 1000s of Supemes fans. But Motown fans bought these releases as they would other artists. Obviously the casual pop fan bought chart hits, and this is were Tony Blackburn came in..

    His show had the power to crossover to make big pop hits whilst Motown fans bought records across the label roster.
    Snakepit, this explains why older, previously released Motown hits became hits again in the 70s in the UK.

  5. #5
    Marv,
    The discotheques of the mid 60s played a lot of soul music in the UK. Motown was popular as an underground scene in the main. These records were played on pirate radio or the niche Radio Luxembourg...but this exposure in the mid 60s didn't crossover to the charts.
    Remember, unlike the USA the UK did not have national radio playing 'pop'music. 45s shared air air time with live radio, dance bands etc. The BBC 's music policy was a very broad church ranging from pop (Beatles etc) to crooners,Novelty, ballads etc...no room for Black R&B then.
    But as the 60s wore on, a younger audience and pirate DJs featured soul and Motown. The BBC had to respond, the UK Government closed the pirates down . Radio One in 1967 had to reflect this change and Motown was ready to blossom here.
    The club and disco scene had moved on from the mid 60s Motown and the beginnings of the Northern Soul scene played Motown less and less. BUT the mid 60s hits that came too soon for the UK were now perfect tracks for Radio 1...and getting plugged on Tony's show was the breakthrough
    Records like This Old Heart of mine, Get Ready. Dancing in the street were not BIG hits in the period referred to above but by 1969...
    Ideal.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Marv,
    The discotheques of the mid 60s played a lot of soul music in the UK. Motown was popular as an underground scene in the main. These records were played on pirate radio or the niche Radio Luxembourg...but this exposure in the mid 60s didn't crossover to the charts.
    Remember, unlike the USA the UK did not have national radio playing 'pop'music. 45s shared air air time with live radio, dance bands etc. The BBC 's music policy was a very broad church ranging from pop (Beatles etc) to crooners,Novelty, ballads etc...no room for Black R&B then.
    But as the 60s wore on, a younger audience and pirate DJs featured soul and Motown. The BBC had to respond, the UK Government closed the pirates down . Radio One in 1967 had to reflect this change and Motown was ready to blossom here.
    The club and disco scene had moved on from the mid 60s Motown and the beginnings of the Northern Soul scene played Motown less and less. BUT the mid 60s hits that came too soon for the UK were now perfect tracks for Radio 1...and getting plugged on Tony's show was the breakthrough
    Records like This Old Heart of mine, Get Ready. Dancing in the street were not BIG hits in the period referred to above but by 1969...
    Ideal.
    Thank you Snakepit for explaining that. Didn't the Elgins get a UK hit in the early 70s with one of their songs from the mid-60s. I believe I also read that "Baby Love" became a hit again there in around 1974.

  7. #7
    but i'm also talking about the span of just months. during the DRATS years the girls had 2 top ten hits (from July 67 - Dec 69) out of 10 releases. Then starting in 1970 Diana had 4 top ten out of 6 releases. and the sups w jean had 5 top ten out of 7 releases

    so did the Tops see a similar change in charting performance? the temps?

  8. #8
    The Elgins had a hit with " Heaven must have sent you". This was right in the period of 60s Motown being played in mainstream discos and national radio picking up with it...crossing over into the charts.
    Previously this track was arguably the biggest 'underground" Motown 45 on the Pre NS scene.
    EMI, Motown's licencee, clearly had people suggesting tracks that might catch on.

  9. #9
    Four Tops , after Reach Out I'll be there, were featured on Radio a fair bit as were DRATS.
    TB was a big fan of both so the both groups had reasonable hits here.
    The Temptations, apart from dedicated TM collectors, were virtually unknown to genetal pop fans.
    Their reissued Get Ready was a hit in 69.
    The rise in Motown's acceptance saw them gain chart hits afte that.

  10. #10
    Check out the thread " On the Detroit beat" in this forum. It reflects what I am saying here....until 1967 Motown did not have major chart success in the UK.
    Years ago a stalwart member of this forum disagreed with me on this .
    I maintained that Motown's pop record was very poor 64-69. I was of the opinion that he was a keen underground Motown fan of the pirate/club era and that this blurred his view.
    Another member posted all the UK TMG 45s and their chart placings.( or lack of..)
    I don't think he ever posted on here again.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    but i'm also talking about the span of just months. during the DRATS years the girls had 2 top ten hits (from July 67 - Dec 69) out of 10 releases. Then starting in 1970 Diana had 4 top ten out of 6 releases. and the sups w jean had 5 top ten out of 7 releases

    so did the Tops see a similar change in charting performance? the temps?
    Motown UK issued the third in the series Motown Chartbusters. This LP collated many of the reissued hits from 69 along with current hits from 68/69. It was a massive seller, so the 1970 era would have been probably the prime peroid of Motown popularity. Tony Blackburn's show would account for that surge you talk of.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Marv,
    The discotheques of the mid 60s played a lot of soul music in the UK. Motown was popular as an underground scene in the main. These records were played on pirate radio or the niche Radio Luxembourg...but this exposure in the mid 60s didn't crossover to the charts.
    Remember, unlike the USA the UK did not have national radio playing 'pop'music. 45s shared air air time with live radio, dance bands etc. The BBC 's music policy was a very broad church ranging from pop (Beatles etc) to crooners,Novelty, ballads etc...no room for Black R&B then.
    But as the 60s wore on, a younger audience and pirate DJs featured soul and Motown. The BBC had to respond, the UK Government closed the pirates down . Radio One in 1967 had to reflect this change and Motown was ready to blossom here.
    The club and disco scene had moved on from the mid 60s Motown and the beginnings of the Northern Soul scene played Motown less and less. BUT the mid 60s hits that came too soon for the UK were now perfect tracks for Radio 1...and getting plugged on Tony's show was the breakthrough
    Records like This Old Heart of mine, Get Ready. Dancing in the street were not BIG hits in the period referred to above but by 1969...
    Ideal.
    Thank you Snakepit for explaining that. Didn't the Elgins get a UK hit in the early 70s with one of their songs from the mid-60s. I believe I also read that "Baby Love" became a hit again there in around 1974.

  13. #13
    Marv
    See above for reply

  14. #14
    Just looked st a site called official charts.
    Before 1969 the number of top 30 hits for:
    Temptations...3
    Marvin Gaye ( solo)....0
    Martha and Vandellas ..5
    Stevie Wonder...5
    Smokey/Miracles...1

    Most of these were in the 21-30 pl
    acing. Probably bought by the pirate radio fans.
    Last edited by snakepit; 12-07-2018 at 03:26 PM.

  15. #15
    I know that "My Guy" became a hit again in the early 70's reaching #13 on the UK Charts as Mary Wells & Cecil Womack did a tour there at that time.

  16. #16
    https://www.officialcharts.com is the site that holds all UK chart data searchable by artist, song, week. I can't separate out non Motown hits or the likes of DRATS from Diana solo or Smokey solo from the Miracles. Some chart runs look like they may be wrong e.g. 'Dancing In The Street' & 'Behind A Painted Smile' as they appear twice in the same time period! You will see that Motown's fortunes changed about the final quarter of 1966. In 1969 many old Motown records were re-issued/re-released. Some had previously charted below the top 20 and some like the 'Heaven Must Have Sent You' had never charted at all! I have added links to most of the artists who charted but have excluded J5 & Michael plus Commodores & Lionel. You can look these up for yourself


    Supremes UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artist/11282/supremes/

    Four Tops UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artist/11856/four-tops/

    Temptations UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artis...3/temptations/

    Martha & The Vandellas UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artis...the-vandellas/

    Marvin Gaye UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artis...7/marvin-gaye/

    Stevie Wonder UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artis...stevie-wonder/

    Isley Brothers UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artis...sley-brothers/

    Diana Ross UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artist/14097/diana-ross/

    Gladys Knight & The Pips UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artis...gladys-knight/

    Jr Walker UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artis...the-all-stars/

    Mary Wells UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artist/11124/mary-wells/

    Miracles UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artist/12345/miracles/

    Smokey Robinson UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artis...okey-robinson/

    Elgins UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artist/14313/elgins/

    Marvelettes UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artis...5/marvelettes/

    R. Dean Taylor UK

    https://www.officialcharts.com/artis...--dean-taylor/

  17. #17
    Good stuff Copley.
    1967 was, I believe, the year that soul music/Motown broke through. This ties on with the need for the BBC to get with the times...the pirates were playing all this stuff and a decent following amongst UK teenagers were buying soul music and hearing it on clubs and discos.
    Artists such as The Marvelettes ( heard of them?) , Gladys Knight & Pips, Jimmy Ruffin were getting into the lower reaches of the top 30.
    1968 was a bit quieter for these acts but the 1969 reissue was the Boom for Motown here.

  18. #18
    In the 60's it was very much down to offshore radio or Pirate Radio, my brother was 11 years older than and he was into Motown so I was introduced via his records in my early teens. We used to go to the Isle of Man for our holidays in the 60's from Ramsey Pier you could see MV Fredrica Radio Caroline North clearly, my brother was have his transistor radio to listen and they played so much Motown and Soul.

    Mt first concert was The Four Top mid 60's, told my Mum we had an away rugby match, and my teacher I had a dentist appointment, Adidas bag it was not my rugby kit but a change from my school uniform, down to the railway station, changed in the toilets then on to Liverpool and the Liverpool Empire, 2,700 seats a great theatre and still there today, those days 2 performances were needed and it was full. It was then I knew I wanted to be a radio DJ,even though my teachers told me stop dreaming.

    Motown really started in the Discos & with Northern Soul in the North of England and the 70's were a great era, so many tours and they always visited Liverpool, by then I was working in commercial radio, we even promoted most of the Motown concerts at the Empire, so I got to meet the artists, go backstage and interview them, the same artists my brother loved in the 60's. I played so much Tamla Motown as it was here in the UK, until we started with computerised play lists, though I still sneaked in some extra Motown and said nothing!

    My greatest find was a a cheap under 1 LP in the Music for Pleasure range, it had a track on called 'Ghost in my House' by R Dean Taylor when I started to play that on air and in the night clubs everyone loved it, I was always sent the green Tamla Motown for promotion singles and albums and when the record rep visited the radio station he would head to see me first knowing I would support him. I started speaking with my promotions contact for Tamla Motown at EMI in London and pleading for a release of R Dean Taylor, it had been released in The States in 1967 on VIP Label. In the end I think he got sick of me asking him to release it, every time I played it from the cheap range album people would phone in to the radio station and ask where they could get it, same in night clubs now called Discos! by now the famous Wigan Casino was playing it & Blackpool Mecca, in the end it was released and to the Tamla Motown Publicity reached Number 3 in the UK Pop Charts!

    Sadly I promised a Silver Disc for pushing 'Ghost in my House' but it never arrived, the only one I ever got from Motown and is on my lounge wall was 98 Degrees in 1987, I had supported them so much here, sadly they never took off big! but the USA office sent the disc.

    Motown was my life, all down to my older Brother! and such artists as The Four Tops, The Temptations, Edwin Starr, Jimmy Ruffin became friends, good job I took no notice of what my careers teacher told me! he wanted me to go and work for an Estate Agent LOL!

  19. #19
    Jaybs,
    A great history you have and I applaud your efforts in promoting TM. I eventually did a hospital radio show, and then a show for FC United of Manchester on their web page radio. I also did a show on mixcloud. But this was in the last few years.
    I would have loved to been doing a DJ show in the days when I was a serious collector like yourself.

    I was probably an average pop radio listener, didn't really listen to the pirates, occasionally Luxembourg. So I can be confident that the BBC were playing a wide range of music, the early to mid 60s charts a complete hotpotch of styles. IF a Motown/soul record was a big pop hit in the USA then it probably got airtime ( My Guy, Baby Love etc) but artists like Marvelettes, Kim Weston, Brenda Holloway, no chance.

    It was the serious collectors and club goers , Mod scene, ...underground , who knew about this stuff.
    I had no relative to influence me , so never heard or knew about Motown.
    It was the summer of 1967 , when an older friend , who was going to a local disco, played me 45s he was collecting . He heard them at the disco ( and the playlist was influenced by the Twisted Wheel).
    Lots of Motown/ Stax/ 60 club soul. We spent that summer playing all this stuff over endless games of Monopoly....and trips to the swimming baths...and more records. Happy days,
    I ditched all my Beatles/Monkees /pop records and set off on my quest to buy every Motown 45 I could find.

  20. #20
    I can trace my conversion to a day in 1967, when I informed my older friend that I had heard the Four Tops " Seven rooms of gloom" on the radio. The Monopoly sessions had clearly worked. I was now listening to the radio intently for these artists like Jimmy Ruffin, Temptations, Isley Bros, etc. But not hearing a lot as I remember.
    Radio 1was introduced...I remember us talking about it when it was announced . The first National pop station...it was a big deal,
    Radio 1 had a show called Record Racehorses...a form of the old Juke Box Jury, where pop stars, DJs etc picked a new disc (horse) and the winner was voted on by the panel...I first heard Stevie's " I was made to love her"and knew I had to buy it. I usually had pocket money for 1 new record a week.
    I dashed off to my local shop…...and once there I "bottled it" and came away with the Beatles latest.
    I was so annoyed with myself, and never repeated that error again.
    placed my order for British Motown Chartbusters and that was it....

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