Remembering the 1967 Detroit Riot, part 1: “Before the whole damn studio went up in flames”

by Brian Matzke July 10, 2017

“Before the whole damn studio went up in flames”: Motown at the start of the 1967 riot The Automobile and American Culture David L. Lewis and Laurence Goldstein, Editors Before Motown A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-60 Lars Bjorn with Jim Gallert One Nation Under A Groove Motown and American Culture Gerald Early I Hear a Symphony Motown and Crossover R&B Andrew Flory Guitars, Bars, and Motown Superstars Dennis Coffey This month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit riot, also knowns as the 12th Street riot, one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in American history. […]

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Dennis Coffey provides clue to Motown amp on ‘History Detectives’

by Shaun Manning August 23, 2012

A recent episode of PBS’ History Detectives found host Eduardo Pagán investigating the provenance of an amplifier that may have belonged to legendary Motown bass player James Jamerson. Jamerson was a member of the in-house studio band Funk Brothers, who played with Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, the Supremes, and Marvin Gaye on more than 100 singles. Steve Fishman, the amp’s current owner, said that “James Jamerson was to bass what Jimi Hendrix was to guitar,” but the only evidence he has that this amp is a piece of Motown history is Jamerson’s name stenciled on the side. No photographs of […]

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Where Did Motown Come From?

by University of Michigan Press February 25, 2009

by Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert This year Motown celebrates its 50th anniversary, which makes it a good time to ponder some basic questions about the company that has come to define music in Detroit. Why did it happen in Detroit? What were the musical and extra-musical sources of the Motown Sound? Detroit was a city that grew faster than any other large American city in the 20th century so that by mid-century it had almost two million people. This included a sizeable African-American population, which meant that there was a larger pool of talent to draw on than elsewhere […]

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Arthur Kempton salutes Motown

by University of Michigan Press February 19, 2009

On Christmas Day of 1968, the breaking dawn disclosed Motown in its fullest flower. Five of America’s ten most popular records had been made and sold by a company seeded a decade earlier in a backwater of culture commerce by a scuffling thirty-year old black songwriter with money borrowed from family who already considered him chronically unsuccessful. And still, on late Friday afternoons, the proprietor of black America’s biggest enterprise prowled the offices of what was, by then, the most effective organization in the history of the music business, admonishing any within whose pace had slackened to keep working. “Haven’t […]

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