Berry Gordy Jr. changed music and American culture in the 1960’s and 70’s arguably more than any other individual. With the opening of Motown Records (Detroit is the Motor City), a new soundtrack to people’s lives was being formed with each new record on the label.
Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Jackson 5, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Marvelettes, on and on, music acts that competed with The Beatles and dominated the charts worldwide. Even more incredible was how they changed public perception and an awareness and acceptance of black artists being respected by the masses.
Smokey Robinson wrote, “Into the ’60s, I was still not of a frame of mind that we were not only making music, we were making history. But I did recognize the impact because acts were going all over the world at that time. I recognized the bridges that we crossed, the racial problems and the barriers that we broke down with music. I recognized that because I lived it. I would come to the South in the early days of Motown and the audiences would be segregated. Then they started to get the Motown music and we would go back and the audiences were integrated and the kids were dancing together and holding hands.”
Motown has been putting out amazing records for 5 decades, here’s a recap of the decades and some unforgettable favorites. If you aren’t smiling, dancing, and singing along to these songs, check your pulse, you may be dead.
60’s “AIN’T NOTHING LIKE THE REAL THING” MARVIN GAYE & TAMMI TERRELL
60’s “REACH OUT I’LL BE THERE” THE FOUR TOPS
70’s “I WANT YOU BACK” JACKSON 5
Motown in the 70’s released some of the all time greatest albums like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and “Let’s Get It On”, Stevie Wonder’s “Talking Book” and “Songs In The Key of Life”. Add in the Diana Ross solo albums, Gladys Knight & The Pips, the Commodores, and The Temptations and Motown’s legacy grew with their 70’s classics.
70’s “TOUCH ME IN THE MORNING” (alternate raw version!) DIANA ROSS
80’s “RUNNING WITH THE NIGHT” LIONEL RICHIE
Big acts on Motown in the 80’s included the Commodores, the Lionel Richie solo CDs, Rockwell (Berry Gordy’s son), DeBarge, and Rick James.
80’s “PART TIME LOVER” STEVIE WONDER
90’s “END OF THE ROAD” BOYZ II MEN
Motown had lost steam in the 90’s but still had major success with Boyz II Men, Shanice, Johnny Gill, Tony Toni Tone, and even 98 Degrees!
00’s “VIDEO” INDIA.ARIE
By the mid 2000’s, Motown had merged with Universal and sadly marked the end of almost 50 years of life changing music from the greatest American record label. Brian McKnight, Erykah Badu, Michael McDonald, India.Arie, and some old favorites like Diana Ross were still on the label.