Friday, 29 April 2016

The Year Was 1965: Significant Events in Motown’s History Pt. 1

"My Girl" was the number one
for Motown Records  in 1965
In 1965 Motown Records had five number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. Four of those singles were produced by Holland-Dozer and Holland. The Temptations’ “My Girl” on the Gordy label1965 would become another successful year for Motown with the Temptations’ “My Girl” starting the year in style almost a year after Mary Well’s “My Guy” had reached number one. The song “My Girl” was produced by Smokey Robinson and co-written by his long-term song writing partner Ronald White. The song features the powerful vocals of the late David Ruffin on lead. It went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart week-ending 6th March 1965 (1 week). The classic hit track also went to number one on the re-activated Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart week-ending 6th January 1965 (6 weeks). The single also achieved the number two position on the UK Official Pop Singles Chart in 1965.
Jr. Walker and  the All Stars

Jr. Walker and the All Stars had the first number one of their career called "Shotgun" immediately after dethroning the Temptations on the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart week-ending 11th March 1965 (4 weeks). This was first time that Lawrence Horn received credit for his involvement in producing an act on the label. Berry Gordy Jr. co-produced the track. The session musicians on the track were James Jamerson Jr. on bass, with two guitarists Joe Messina and Eddie Willis, and finally Benny Benjamin on drums gave the track that special touch that sent it to the top of the charts.

In the month of May Smokey Robinson produced his magic formula again with Marvin Gaye, as the latter stepped out of his studio drumming role and turned to singing as the label’s leading up-and-coming male vocalist. Robinson also found time to compose the song “I’ll Be Doggone” with guitarist Marv Tarplin and Pete Moore, founding members of The Miracles, whilst on tour. Marvin Gaye was an emerging genius who co-wrote his first three hit records, “Stubborn Kind of Fellow”, “Hitch Hike” and “Pride and Joy”. He was one of the first artists at Motown to do so. Gaye became brilliant at interpreting other song-writers’ material, improvising and improving on the original song and making it his own in the process. “I’ll Be Doggone” was certainly one of those songs. It topped the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart week-ending 22nd May 1965 (1 week). Each member of The Funk Brothers added their own momentum and richness to the song’s groove helping to send the song to the top! 


Friday, 4 March 2016

The Year Was 1968: Significant Events in Motown’s History

Image result for Tammi Terrell,
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
were Motown Record's 
most successful duo.
1968 was the year that Marvin Gaye cracked the winning formula with Tammi Terrell, with the creative assistance of Ashford and Simpson, who became both their song writers and music producers for their next two number one singles on the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart, starting with the single released on March 28th 1968 “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” which achieved the number one position week-ending 8th June 1968 (1 week) and also peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. The next number one song followed in late summer with “You’re All I Need to Get By”, at the top week-ending 31st August 1968 (5 weeks). These two songs performed extremely well in the UK and in other European music markets, selling hundreds of thousands of copies across Europe. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell became the most successful duo in the history of the label during this period.

Image result for ashford and simpson
Ashford and Simpson.
The song writing and
 music production team behind
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell success.
The performances of Gaye and Terrell were of top quality, delivered with class and sophistication. Their voices flowed smoothly like milk and honey, graced with beauty and poetic yet filled with sexual passion from start to finish, unmatched by anyone at the time. They became a trade-mark brand for Motown and were certainly perfect for each other in terms of the blend of voices and harmonisation, making the most of the beautiful melodies developed by Ashford and Simpson. 

The original roots and feelings of the majority of these songs written by Ashford and Simpson were developed by Valerie Simpson playing the piano, as they worked chord structures for each song. Each track was underpinned by soulful, gospel-tinged musical themes, which were strongly influenced by the composers’ experiences back in the city of New York, where they performed in the Baptist church choir. This experience impacted their musical intelligence and approach to composing and producing songs and helped them create brilliant songs, with the skilful support of The Funk Brothers under the leadership of Earl Van Dyke. 


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Year Was 1963: Significant Events in Motown’s History

Mary Wells Two Lovers.jpg
The number one single "Two Lovers"
taken from album 
1963 became a phenomenal year for Motown, with three recording acts topping the Billboard Hot R&B Side Singles Chart. The first artist to have achieved such a fate was the late Mary Well with her first number of career produced and written by Smokey Robinson. The single “Two Lovers” peaked at number one week-ending 19th January 1963 (4 weeks).
The single "Fingertips"
from the number
one album
The group's signature song
 "Heat Wave" produced by

This was followed by the then newly signed Little Stevie Wonder with the single entitled “Fingertips (Part 2)” which topped  the singles charts on two Billboard listing: Billboard Hot R&B Side Singles Chart week-ending 3rd August 1963 (6 weeks); Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart week-ending 10th August 1963 (3 weeks). Also the single achieved similar success on the Cash Box Pop Singles Chart survey week-ending 3rd August 1963 (4 weeks). It was the first live single in Billboard history to go to number one. The parent album “The 12 Year Old Genius” became the first live album according to Billboard to peak at number one on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart week-ending 24th August 1963 (1 week). The entire album was produced by the legendary Berry Gordy, Jr.
The following month on the 14th September 1963, The Martha Reeves &; the Vandellas stayed at number one on the Billboard Hot R&B Side Singles Chart for 4 weeks with their single “Heat Wave” produced by Motown main song writing and music produced team Holland-Dozier-Holland premier hit making team at the label.

The label dominated the number one position that year for total of 14 weeks on the Billboard Hot R&B Side Singles Chart.  All these brilliant tracks and albums released and recorded were underscored by The Funk Brothers with vocal support from The Andantes other members of Motown family.


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Significant Achievements in the Detroit Sound Pt.5

Classic 5 Temptations circa 1965.jpg
The original Temptations
Both Norman Whitfield and Smokey Robinson helped The Temptations became one of most popular vocal groups of the 20th Century. The group has received over thirty RIAA certifications, including a multi-platinum certification for their 1996 release “The Temptations Greatest Hits.” 

Two more albums during the mid-1990s received platinum certification for the group, “All The Million-Sellers” and “The Temptations Give Love At Christmas.” They also collected platinum certifications for their singles “I Can’t Get Next To You”, recorded during the late 1960s and produced by Norman Whitfield, and “My Girl”, also recorded during the early 1960s and written and produced by Smokey Robinson. Both singles sold over two million copies each. According to the RIAA, The Temptations are now the second most certified group behind the Beatles. The Beatles have twenty four gold singles while the Temptations have sixteen gold singles to their credit. All The Temptations records features dynamic studio performance of The Funk Brothers and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strings section and vocal support of The Andantes.


Significant Achievements in the Detroit Sound Pt.4

Diana Ross & The Supremes with
The Temptations

Did know that Motown Records became the first label in America music history to have a soundtrack TV special album at number one on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart week-ending 8 th February 1969 (1 week) which temporarily dislodged self-title album "The Beatles" from the top position! The album "TCB" features Diana Ross & the Supremes with The Temptations"

Image result for the supremes tcb album
First album released  performed 
by both groups

Also in 1969, the album "Diana Ross and the Supremes Join the Temptations, which showcased the combined forces ot the groups, climbed to number two on 11th January 1969, but was denied the top position by the The Beatles.

The  album also topped the Billboard Hot Soul and R&B Albums Chart the following week after  an album performed by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles entitled “Special Occasion”, which stayed at number one for two weeks, week-ending December 7th 1968 and was followed by Diana Ross & the Supremes’ album “Diana Ross and The Supremes Join The Temptations” week-ending 21st December 1968 (2 weeks). 




Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Significant Achievements in the Detroit Sound Pt.3

Image result for “Motown Chartbusters Volume 3”
Motown Records first compilation
gold certified album in the UK. 
In addition Motown had tremendous success with two more compilation albums starting in 1969 and also 1970 following their previous success on the UK Official Pop Albums Chart in 1968 with new titles starting with “Motown Chartbusters Volume 3” at number one week-ending 25th October 1969 (1 week). The compilation album was on the chart for a total of 93 weeks! The album obtained gold certification for the label according to BPI for 100,000 copies sold in the UK. This was followed in 1970 with “Motown Chartbuster Volume 4” that peaked at number one week-ending 24th October 1970 (1 week).

Image result for tears of a clown
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
first UK Pop number one hit.
The next monster single to return to the top was originally recorded in Detroit in Studio A in 1966 entitled “The Tears of a Clown” performed by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. It was released in 1967 on the studio album “Make It Happen.” It re-released in the United Kingdom as single during September 1970 and raced up the UK Official Pop Singles Chart to peak at number one week-ending 12th September 1970 (1 week) It became a major trans-Atlantic hit since Marvin Gaye’s classic hit “I Heard Through The Grapevine” reaching top of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart week-ending 12th December 1970 (2 weeks); Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles Chart week-ending 5th December 1970 (3 weeks) at number one; Cash Box Pop Singles Chart week-ending 12th December 1970 (1 week). The single potential was discovered by a staff member at EMI Records UK operation by the name of Karen Spreadbury who John Reid a manager at EMI Records UK operations responsible for marketing Motown Tamla recording projects, took her advice and released the single in the UK and within two weeks it was number one on the UK Official Pop Singles Chart.

Image result for band of gold
Freda Payne only Pop
number one hit in the UK and
Trans-Atlantic million seller.
At the same time that “Ball Of Confusion (That’s What World Is Today)” was in the Top Five on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles week-ending 11th July 1970, they was another single produced in Detroit and performed by Freda Payne entitled “Band of Gold” at number five. The song eventually peaked at number three week-ending 25th July 1970 (1 week). The song became the first Trans-Atlantic hit to go to number one on the UK Official Pop Singles Chart for the then newly established Invictus Records label founded by Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1968 in Detroit after the they departure form Motown. The single peaked at number one week-ending 19th September 1970 (6 weeks). The instrumentation on the track were provided by members of The Funk Brothers: Bob Babbitt (bass), Dennis Coffey, Eddie Willis, Ray Monette and Ray Parker, Jr. (guitars), Johnny Griffith (keyboards), Uriel Jones (drums), Jack Ashford (percussion) with backing vocals by Scherrie Payne, Telma Hopkins, Joyce Vincent Wilson and Pamela Vincent.

Another single came out of Invictus Records during the same period which was gold certified single in America called “Give Me Just A Little More Time” performed by the Chairmen Of The Board. The track peaked at number eight on the Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles Chart in 1970; Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart at number three; UK Official Pop Singles Chart at number three the same year.  Both these first two gold certified singles obtained by the label were recorded at the Holland Sound Studios, Inc by Chief engineer Lawrence Horn and mastered by Bob Dennis.




About Me

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Old Harlow, Essex, United Kingdom
Kevin Tomlin has over 34 years of teaching experience in Jamaica, England and America, including 15 years teaching music history of black origin and visual art in South Florida, U.S.A., through Arts in Education. Tomlin created special training programmes and workshops for music teachers in South Florida schools, using music history as the foundation, to build exciting programmes of study and support materials for education professionals. Since 2000, he’s taught music history, geography, religious education, history, visual arts and performing arts at schools in Hertfordshire and Essex, at both primary and secondary levels. He conducts research and provides consultancy services for multi-media organisations, schools, recording artists, cultural and faith-based groups and entertainment professionals.

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