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  1. #1

    HDH & their own label at Motown

    Reading Adam White's always interesting latest blog, he touches on the often reported cause of HDH's split from Motown, namely the ambition of HDH to own their own label within Motown.

    This was presumably HDH making the case that their songs were the main driving force at Motown, and they wanted more in the way of a share of the spoils. Of course, Berry Gordy refused. This appears to be the initial cause of the fall out.
    But...how would this have worked? Presumably HDH knew that the major groups, by now firmly identified with "The Motown Sound", could never have been moved from Tamla/Motown .
    Did they envisage bringing new groups into the company?
    any thoughts on this?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Reading Adam White's always interesting latest blog, he touches on the often reported cause of HDH's split from Motown, namely the ambition of HDH to own their own label within Motown.

    This was presumably HDH making the case that their songs were the main driving force at Motown, and they wanted more in the way of a share of the spoils. Of course, Berry Gordy refused. This appears to be the initial cause of the fall out.
    But...how would this have worked? Presumably HDH knew that the major groups, by now firmly identified with "The Motown Sound", could never have been moved from Tamla/Motown .
    Did they envisage bringing new groups into the company?
    any thoughts on this?
    That's what Berry Gordy stated in the recent Hitsville: The Making of Motown special on Showtime, but I believe it was a lot more than that....Funny though that following HDH's departure, the band Rare Earth got their own label...at least one named after them... I think HDH just felt they weren't getting the recognition within the company they believed they deserved as Berry was featuring more and more different producers and bringing in new ones (Ashford & Simpson, etc) , enhanced Norman Whitfield's footprint, and did some experimentation with several new labels, however, none to challenge the existing big three Motown, Gordy, and Tamla...Soul (eliminated in the late 60's)and VIP (dissolved in the early 70's) were seen as secondary labels...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 10-11-2019 at 02:57 PM.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    That's what Berry Gordy stated in the recent Hitsville: The Making of Motown special on Showtime, but I believe it was a lot more than that....Funny though that following HDH's departure, the band Rare Earth got their own label...at least one named after them... I think HDH just felt they weren't getting the recognition within the company they believed they deserved as Berry was featuring more and more different producers and bringing in new ones (Ashford & Simpson, etc) , enhanced Norman Whitfield's footprint, and did some experimentation with several new labels, however, none to challenge the existing big three Motown, Gordy, and Tamla...Soul (eliminated in the late 60's)and VIP (dissolved in the early 70's) were seen as secondary labels...
    Wasn't Soul eliminated in the late 70s?

  4. #4
    Yeah, I find that weird considered they invented a whole new label for Chris Clark, the Weed label. With the tag line, "the best artists are on Weed". ... So why not give the company's best writers/producers their own imprint label?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by lockhartgary View Post
    Wasn't Soul eliminated in the late 70s?
    No...Active from 1964 to 1968...

  6. #6

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    Yeah, I find that weird considered they invented a whole new label for Chris Clark, the Weed label. With the tag line, "the best artists are on Weed". ... So why not give the company's best writers/producers their own imprint label?
    What a trick BG missed on this one! When he drove HDH out, he must already have been planning the move to the West Coast. He had lost all interest in the music by this time. And for a guy who always believed in splitting his stock options, he goofed big time. He could have moved the Motown imprint to LA to continue some musical activity ( altho not of course the Motown Sound) and left the rest of the Detroit music operation intact with HDH at Hitsville.

    There was plenty of musical mileage left in the writing teams and the Funk Brothers and the Artistes.

    What might have been.....more years of the sounds that made Motown special.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Reading Adam White's always interesting latest blog, he touches on the often reported cause of HDH's split from Motown, namely the ambition of HDH to own their own label within Motown.

    This was presumably HDH making the case that their songs were the main driving force at Motown, and they wanted more in the way of a share of the spoils. Of course, Berry Gordy refused. This appears to be the initial cause of the fall out.
    But...how would this have worked? Presumably HDH knew that the major groups, by now firmly identified with "The Motown Sound", could never have been moved from Tamla/Motown .
    Did they envisage bringing new groups into the company?
    any thoughts on this?
    My thoughts on this are that HDH would've brought in new artists that they discovered (such as Chairmen Of The Board, Honey Cone, 100 Proof Aged In Soul & others) into this proposed label. Berry's objections to this (as covered in the Hitsville doc.) are that HDH would've stopped working with the other acts at the label and they would only work exclusively with the artists on their Motown imprint. I can sympathize with BG on this because I could see where this would lead to other writer/producers on Motown asking for their own labels (or other considerations) to keep them working at Motown.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    My thoughts on this are that HDH would've brought in new artists that they discovered (such as Chairmen Of The Board, Honey Cone, 100 Proof Aged In Soul & others) into this proposed label. Berry's objections to this (as covered in the Hitsville doc.) are that HDH would've stopped working with the other acts at the label and they would only work exclusively with the artists on their Motown imprint. I can sympathize with BG on this because I could see where this would lead to other writer/producers on Motown asking for their own labels (or other considerations) to keep them working at Motown.
    I actually believe that HDH had to scramble to find artists, musicians, and groups for their new label, made up of many 3rd tier Motown musicians and singers trying to get through the doors at Motown but not breaking through to first tier status...Most of their musicians (before Motown closed it's doors in Detroit) were early era Motown musicians left out after the Funk Brothers became a solid unit, or younger guys who came along late in the game and the guys who were called into Motown for the overflow work... He even used some of those musicians to form groups to release records on their own (I won't mention names but people real familiar with Motown will know who many of them were)… It did provide some work for some local musicians after Motown became cutting back and ultimately leaving Detroit, and also provided opportunities for up and comers like Ray Parker Jr to hone their skills...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 10-11-2019 at 05:04 PM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by fatmaninthethirdrow View Post
    What a trick BG missed on this one! When he drove HDH out, he must already have been planning the move to the West Coast. He had lost all interest in the music by this time. And for a guy who always believed in splitting his stock options, he goofed big time. He could have moved the Motown imprint to LA to continue some musical activity ( altho not of course the Motown Sound) and left the rest of the Detroit music operation intact with HDH at Hitsville.

    There was plenty of musical mileage left in the writing teams and the Funk Brothers and the Artistes.

    What might have been.....more years of the sounds that made Motown special.
    Indeed; it's tempting to speculate on what would've happened if HDH got what they wanted and stayed with Motown (in the new book from the Holland Bros., Come And Get These Memories, they state that Motown Records "should've stayed in Detroit and only maintained an office in Los Angeles"). Also, what could've been done at Motown if Gordy had kept his focus exclusively on the music business in the '70s (and beyond). However, Berry clearly felt the need to do branch out into TV, movies, etc. in the late '60s (remember his quote, "innovate or stagnate", from the Hitsville doc.).

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyluckyme View Post
    And singles discography here:
    http://www.globaldogproductions.info/s/soul.html

  12. #12
    Good response guys.
    I've not seen Hitsville yet..and awaiting HDH book very soon. So it seems some of this is covered.
    I can see that HDH would have diverted their attention to their own projects..new artists possibly.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Reading Adam White's always interesting latest blog, he touches on the often reported cause of HDH's split from Motown, namely the ambition of HDH to own their own label within Motown.

    This was presumably HDH making the case that their songs were the main driving force at Motown, and they wanted more in the way of a share of the spoils. Of course, Berry Gordy refused. This appears to be the initial cause of the fall out.
    But...how would this have worked? Presumably HDH knew that the major groups, by now firmly identified with "The Motown Sound", could never have been moved from Tamla/Motown .
    Did they envisage bringing new groups into the company?
    any thoughts on this?
    I believe they would have recruited new artists and perhaps produce and record as solo artists those that had exited their former groups, i.e. David Ruffin, Florence Ballard, etc.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Good response guys.
    I've not seen Hitsville yet..and awaiting HDH book very soon. So it seems some of this is covered.
    I can see that HDH would have diverted their attention to their own projects..new artists possibly.
    Both Hitsville: The Making of Motown and Come And Get These Memories are highly recommended (especially for the details about the relationship between B.G. & HDH).

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    Indeed; it's tempting to speculate on what would've happened if HDH got what they wanted and stayed with Motown (in the new book from the Holland Bros., Come And Get These Memories, they state that Motown Records "should've stayed in Detroit and only maintained an office in Los Angeles"). Also, what could've been done at Motown if Gordy had kept his focus exclusively on the music business in the '70s (and beyond). However, Berry clearly felt the need to do branch out into TV, movies, etc. in the late '60s (remember his quote, "innovate or stagnate", from the Hitsville doc.).
    Soooo that begs the question....Why did HDH move to Hollywood??? If it was a mistake for Motown.....Then it was a mistake for HDH!!!

  16. #16
    I'm still waiting for my copy of CAGTM but I've had a quick look through other books by music journalists, ex- Motowners etc.
    There does not appear to be much support for the idea that HDH wanted their own label. It suggests that this is mainly fluff from Eddie Holland, to deflect that real reason was more money...plain and simple.
    And it does come across that the main protagonist was Eddie. Brian and Lamont seem to have been dragged along by Eddie's ambition.
    As stated above, I don't feel that a HDH label would have worked at all. There was no way DRATS, Four Tops, MR & TV, Marvin Gaye etc would have moved labels.
    No, I think it is history being rewritten by Eddie Holland.
    By mid 1967, Eddie was head of A&R ( replacing Mickey Stevenson), Brian was head of quality control. These were extremely important and powerful roles within Motown. It would have given HDH a great advantage over other writers and producers.
    I think this power given to them ( probably as a 'peace gesture' by Berry) went to Eddie's head. He gambled on taking on the boss for more money.
    Last edited by snakepit; 10-14-2019 at 09:53 AM.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by dvus7 View Post
    Soooo that begs the question....Why did HDH move to Hollywood??? If it was a mistake for Motown.....Then it was a mistake for HDH!!!
    Actually, Motown financially thrived in Los Angeles until the mid 80's when it began to decline amid shaky management and Berry Gordy having moved aside... Back to Detroit mid 70's, once Invictus folded, it was clear that any recording left in Detroit had devolved to virtually minor league levels wih few exceptions. Norman Whitfield, Frank Wilson, Lamont Dozier, etc had relocated to Los Angeles where not only Motown was, but most major record labels were located and HDH used their recording cred to get deals with other labels based on their track record and reputation... Whitfield had some successes in Los Angeles with Rose Royce, etc and that market likely looked like easy creative pickings for HDH... They lacked the resources to fund their own label after Invictus went down, so they once again, were relegated to working within other organizational structures with larger established labels in L.A... Later moves to sell their catalogue, especially in the case of Lamont Dozier, did not work out so well in the end...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 10-14-2019 at 11:00 AM.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    No...Active from 1964 to 1968...
    Do you mean 1964-1978. Jr. Walker had releases on the Soul imprint through 1978.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by blkfrost View Post
    Do you mean 1964-1978. Jr. Walker had releases on the Soul imprint through 1978.
    You are indeed correct... although until it's official ending, only a slight trickle of releases were issued through that label until it's ultimate dissolution...

  20. #20
    HDH were on good wages but they didn't get the company shares they were after. It might have been a good idea for Berry to give them their own label BUT insist that for every single released on that label they had to have a release for Supremes or Four Tops (on other labels).

    I do wonder if HDH had run out of steam though. Even though they had some success with Invictus, it was nothing like the glory years.

  21. #21
    I think you may be right. The general story is that HDH went on a go slow, leading to a strike, around the Autumn/Fall of 67.
    Around that time , they appear to be recording a number of cover versions of 'outside' songs and revisiting several of their own songs from previous years.
    Harold Taylor's book tells us they were recording things away from Motown. ( Presumably early ideas used at Invictus).
    At Motown they may have been going through the motions, unhappy with Berry, and actually , showings signs of running out of steam/ creative ideas.

  22. #22
    the whole situation is a truly fascinating component of the overall Motown story

    on one side you have HDH who did write many of the major hits of the era. They were obviously key figures in the rise and success of motown.

    on the other side you have Motown - some of the biggest hits were NOT written or produced by HDH: Grapevine, Tracks of my tears, what becomes of the broken hearted.

    if HDH were to take over great control of various area within the company, how would that have worked for other major producers and writers? Whitfield had pretty much taken the Temps to nearly the same level as the Sups. smokey was also a huge writer and producer. A&S had just joined. and others. Berry had to look at the overall picture and balance things. Plus there was the desire to push Motown into Hollywood.

    in the end, both sides were terribly damaged by the turn of events but I'd say HDH came off worse. in 68 motown had huge successes and even claimed the top 5 spots with Marvin's Grapevine, Love Child, For Once in my life, I'm gonna make you love me and (i think) Can't get next to you.

    And 1970 was a massive year for motown with War, the J5 singles, Up the ladder and Stoned love, Mountain, the temps releases.

  23. #23
    I'm waiting for the HDH book. I returned from the gym today, only to find the postman had called and could not deliver it. I've got to try and get this package from the depot 😡😠.
    Without reading Eddie Holland's version, I'm sure that a combination of events led to a situation that probably got so mixed up, it could not be halted. ( a bit like Brexit here in the UK).
    Mickey Stevenson , Berry's lieutenant and in house controller left, leaving a power vacuum. Eddie was offered his role probably to placate him.
    Berry was clearly turning his attention to LA. His interest and horizons were clearly changing.Because of the success of DRATS he was travelling the world, mixing in a new show biz world.
    He bought the Smother's Brothers LA mansion. How did the 'worker bees' view that.
    There must have been a lot of questions asked as to where the BIG money was going. Disgruntled employees wanted a bigger share.
    Not unique to Motown but surely relevant

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Levi Stubbs Tears View Post
    HDH were on good wages but they didn't get the company shares they were after. It might have been a good idea for Berry to give them their own label BUT insist that for every single released on that label they had to have a release for Supremes or Four Tops (on other labels).

    I do wonder if HDH had run out of steam though. Even though they had some success with Invictus, it was nothing like the glory years.
    I seem to remember that HDH wanted stock in Motown/part ownership in Motown, similar to the set up that Smokey had, but Gordy was unwilling to get them a percentage. It's unfortunate that both sides couldn't reach an agreement and made the magic last a few years longer.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Levi Stubbs Tears View Post
    HDH were on good wages but they didn't get the company shares they were after. It might have been a good idea for Berry to give them their own label BUT insist that for every single released on that label they had to have a release for Supremes or Four Tops (on other labels).

    I do wonder if HDH had run out of steam though. Even though they had some success with Invictus, it was nothing like the glory years.
    I say that HDH still had great songs when they started Invictus/Hot Wax/Music Merchant (they also had a great sound that combined elements of classic Motown with the emerging sounds of the '70s like Funk & Soft Soul). However, I feel they did eventually run out of steam as time went on (and especially when Lamont Dozier left the Holland Bros. in 1974).

  26. #26
    I am a big fan of the early Invictus stuff...I have the HDH box set of all Invictus/Hot wax 45s...but I don't think there were THAT many top quality things..when compared to Motown. ( Although I accept music tastes were changing).

    With regard to HDH leaving.
    I have no knowledge or experience of writers/producers contracts, but I assume they had a legal commitment to produce a certain number of tracks.

    Without delving too much into the records at DFTMC, I am thinking about the number of HDH songs repackaged/reproduced in 1967.
    You must realise that 45s that were issued in the first half of 1967 were, generally, created and started/recorded in 1966/ early 1967.
    (That's the way Motown worked).
    I venture the opinion that after Mickey left, and HDH were 'promoted' into the highest A&R positions in early 1967, they took the opportunity to tackle Berry for more money/stock in the company.
    When he refused, ( and Eddie is on record as saying that all discussions were done via lawyer George Schiffer , who told HDH that they were tied to a contract) they (HDH) decided to just rehash loads of their old songs.
    Virtually no new songs on the Four Tops, DRATS. They did do re-hashes...vaulted.
    Artists like Chris Clark, Chuck Jackson , Isley Bros, ....look through your CFOM/ unissued comps...were being fed a diet of re-hashes.
    I think this shows a deliberate " go slow".
    Any new songs were being held back for their new venture...their own label.

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