Ch.10 "The Birth Of Motown"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 10 - “The Birth of Motown”

“Get A Job” by The Silhouettes had been a surprise # 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1958, and Berry Gordy Jr. helped Smokey Robinson write an answer song called “Got A Job”. Gordy had the group change its name from The Matadors to The Miracles before leasing the recording to End Records in New York. “Got A Job” was not a hit, but it was the first record Gordy produced and the start of a very important friendship and working relationship with Smokey Robinson.

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Ch. 9 "Berry Gordy Jr. and Jackie Wilson"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 9 - "Berry Gordy Jr. and Jackie Wilson"

Both of Berry Gordy Jr.’s parents were born in Georgia. Berry Gordy Sr. and Bertha Fuller were married after he returned from serving in World War I. The Gordy’s moved with their three children to Detroit in 1922 to start their own business. Berry Gordy Jr. would be born in Detroit on November 28, 1929, the 7th of 8 children.

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Ch. 8 "No Words (The Instrumentals)"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

History Ch. 8 - "No Words (The Instrumentals)" 

Instrumental rock was most popular during rock and roll’s first decade. Bill Doggett, Santo & Johnny, Bill Justis, Duane Eddy, Link Wray, The Virtues, Cozy Cole, and Sandy Nelson were just some of the artists who had hit records during the 1950's; and “Tequila” by The Champs spent five weeks at # 1 in 1957. The trend continued into the next decade with top hits by Booker T. & The MGs, The Ventures, The Marketts, The Rockin’ Rebels, Lonnie Mack, and The Tornadoes. The 1960s also saw a batch of surf instrumental hits by the likes of Dick Dale and The Del-Tones, The Surfaris, and The Chantay’s.

Michigan artists made major contributions to the instrumental genre as well. Some of these recordings made the national charts while many others were only local hits released on tiny independent labels. 

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Ch. 7 "Record Men"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 7 - "Record Men"

Michigan was blessed with a large number of other small independent record labels that, like Fortune, provided opportunities for Michigan artists. Fox, Lucky Eleven, A-Square, Lu Pine, Flick, Twirl, Fenton, Golden World, Impact, Carla, and most importantly Tamla-Motown, were just a few of the record labels that opened the doors to a vast array of Michigan vinyl recordings. The people who established and ran these labels played an important role in providing us with an audio history of the development of the rock and roll movement in our state.

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Ch. 6 "Rockabilly Cats"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 6 - "Rockabilly Cats"

Rockabilly is a musical blend of hillbilly/country and rhythm & blues that is most associated with the recordings at Sun Records in Memphis and the sexy image of Elvis Presley singing with his guitar. Writer Greil Marcus went on to explain: “Most significantly, the image was white. Rockabilly was the only style of early rock ‘n’ roll that proved white boys could do it all – that they could be as strange, as exciting, as scary, and as free as the black men who were suddenly dominating America’s airwaves.”

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Ch. 5 "Pop Goes Detroit"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 5 - "Pop Goes Detroit"

Pop music has always been a part of rock and roll. In 1956, it was common to see pop singers like Perry Como and Patti Page side by side with Elvis Presley and Little Richard on the Top 40 charts. Many popular songs from decades past including “”Where Or When”, “Deep Purple”, “Heart And Soul”, “Blue Moon”, “My Prayer”, “Who’s Sorry Now” and “Mack The Knife” became hits all over again in Michigan and all over the country during the rock and roll era’s first decade.

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Ch. 4 "Early Motor City R&B"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 4 - “Early Motor City R&B”

By the early 1950's, Detroit had emerged as a center for rhythm and blues music and it produced several of the genre's important artists. Hank Ballard was born in Detroit in 1927, but after the death of both of his parents at the age of 7, he was sent to Alabama to live with relatives. While there, he became influenced by both gospel and country music. He later claimed that cowboy singer Gene Autry was one of his early musical heroes.

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