During the 1960s, Motown achieved spectacular success for a small record company: 79 records in the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 record chart between 1960 and 1969.
Martha Reeves of Martha & The Vendellas initially auditioned for Motown as a singer, but was offered a receptionist position in the A&R department. She decided to take that position, and wait for the opportunity to develop her singing career at a later date.
Motown founder Berry Gordy was once a professional boxer before the US army drafted him for the Korean War put paid to his fighting ambition.
Motown hired over 450 employees and grossed income of $20 million by the end of 1966.
Motown also sought to diversify its success, including lables for jazz and blues artists. Of note, Rare Earth Records was a subsidiary focusing on rock music by white artists. Acts included Rare Earth, R. Dean Taylor, the Pretty Things, Love Sculpture, Stoney & Meatloaf, Kiki Dee, Toe Fat, The Cats, Shaun Murphy and the Rustix. The biggest hit to come from it was Rare Earth’s “I just wanna celebrate.”
The Beatles recorded cover versions of four different Motown tracks.
The Motown label was nearly called Tammy after the song of the same name sung by Debbie Reynolds from the 1957 film Tammy and the Bachelor in which Reynolds also starred. Gordy did however use the names Tamla and Tamla Motown.
The original names for the groups the Temptations and The Supremes were the Primes and the Primettes.
What do singers Marvin Gaye, Harvey Fuqua and Jermaine Jackson all have in common? Each of them married a member of Berry Gordy’s family. Marvin & Harvey each married Berry’s sisters while Jermaine married Berry’s daughter Hazel.
What was Smokey Robinson’s real first name? William.