Berry Gordy and Motown

Hitsville U.S.A.
Gordy in his Hitsville studio
Hitsville museum 1 2 3 4 5 6
Berry Gordy, Jr., started Motown Records in 1957 after his record store in Detroit went bankrupt and he turned to songwriting for R&B acts. The name was an abbreviation of "Motor City" and was located at 2648 West Grand Boulevard, called "Hitsville, U.S.A." He hired high school students Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland for $2 per week plus 1/2 cent per record royalties to write songs. By 1973 when Gordy left the company at age 46, he had built the "nation's largest black-owned entertainment conglomerate. " (Detroit Free Press, January 12, 1973 ) It had a phenomenal hit ratio of 75% (songs released that made the national Top 40 lists). "Motown combined elements of blues, gospel, swing and pop with a thumping backbeat for a new dance music that was instantly recognizable. Competing for teen attention primarily against records by the Beatles, who were at the height of their popularity, Motown radically altered the public's perception of black music, which for years had been kept out of the mainstream. White youths as well as black were captivated by the rhythmic new sound, though the musicians who produced it were black, and many of the performers were teenagers from Detroit's housing projects and rundown neighborhoods. Prodding and grooming those raw talents, Gordy transformed them into a roster of dazzling artists who stunned the pop music world. The Supremes, Mary Wells, the Temptations, the Miracles, the Contours, Stevie Wonder, the Marvelettes, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Michael Jackson--those were just some of the performers who had people singing and dancing all over the world." (Holmes)