Motown Records or Hitsville USA was founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1958 (although there is some discrepancy, some resources claim 1957 and others 1959). I am going to stick with 1958 only because in 1983 the television special “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, and Forever” aired. The original building where the “Motown Sound” was created still stands today at 2648 West Grand Blvd. in Detroit Michigan. It is a fascinating place to visit because it is hard to conceive that the world renowned, rich musical heritage that is associated with this company started in this little building. The Studio is literally a garage, with all the original accoutrements that gave us such artists as Mary Wells, The Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and the Miracle, Marvin Gaye, and the list goes on. On this Thursday Thirteen, I give you 13 trivia questions about Motown. The answers are listed below.
1. Which artist received the title of “First Lady” of Motown?
2. What year did the Jackson 5 leave Motown to sign with Epic Records?
3. What was the first Motown album to reach # 1 on the Billboard album charts?
4. What is the first Motown single to reach # 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart?
5. What was Marvin Gaye’s first top ten hit on the Billboard R&B and pop charts?
6. What is Motown’s top selling album to date?
7. Which Motown group had a hit with “This Old Heart of Mine”?
8. Who is responsible for the operation of the Motown Museum?
9. What Norman Whitfield produced groups had hits with such songs as “I Know (I’m Losing You)”, “I Just Want To Celebrate” and “Born To Wander”?
10. What family group had a hit with the song “Heard It Through The Grapevine”?
11. What Motown artist is considered by Bob Dylan to be “America’s Greatest Living Poet”?
12. What artist began her career as the protégé of Rick James?
13. Who was offered a job as a guide at the Motown Museum ?
1. Mary Wells. Mary Wells had three top ten hits in 1962 including “The One Who Really Loves You” and “Two Lovers”.
2. 1975. Jermaine Jackson left the group opting instead to stay with his father-in-law’s company (he was married to Barry Gordy’s daughter Hazel). Randy Jackson replaced Jermaine and the group became known as the Jackson.
3. “12 Year Old Genius” by Stevie Wonder. He actually thirteen when it was released in 1963.
4. “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes. Smokey Robinson and the Miracle’s “Shop Around” was the first national hit in 1961, it did not reach the # 1 slot on Billboard. The Marvelettes hit pay dirt in December of 1961.
5. “Pride and Joy”. Released in 1963 it was featured on the “Stubborn Kinda Fellow” album.
6. “II” by Boyz II Men. It would have been Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, however he had already left for the greener pastures of Epic records. “II” by Boyz II Men sold 12 million copies worldwide.
7. The Isley Brothers. During their stint with Motown, the Isley Brothers hit # 12 with the song in 1966.
8. Esther Gordy Edward. She is Berry Gordy’s sister and she keeps the legacy alive.
9. Rare Earth. They remain one of the more successful white acts to grace the label.
10. Gladys Knight and the Pips. The group consisted of Gladys Knight, her brother Merald ‘Bubba’ Knight, and her cousins Edward Patten and William Guest.
11. Smokey Robinson. Robinson was responsible for the writing the songs that established the Temptations and Mary Wells careers, not to mention the music of his group the Miracles.
12. Teena Marie. One of my all time favorites, I affectionately refer to her as the only white artist that has to cross over to the pop charts.
13. Myself. That was a trick question. No one could know that, but it’s true. While visiting the Museum in 2001 I was invited to interview with Esther Gordy Edwards because of my knowledge of Motown history. I had to decline because of other commitments.
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