The Story of Motown
A Barnacle Book
Re-release of the first book ever published in America about the legendary Motown Record Company, with a new foreword by legendary music journalist Greil Marcus!
In January 1959 Berry Gordy borrowed $800 from his family and founded the Detroit-based record company that in less than a decade was to become the largest black-owned business in the United States. It also became one of the most productive and influential producers of popular music anywhere in the world, mainly by combining the best features of black and white American popular music.
Even a short list of the recording and performing talent that Gordy recruited, trained and produced for his company is awesome: Diana Ross, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells.
The Story of Motown is the story of Berry Gordy’s triumph over powerful, established financial interests, entrenched popular taste, bigotry and racism. By inventing a sound that appealed to whites as well as blacks, and that was immediately identifiable to an entire generation of listeners, Gordy demonstrated his genius as a producer; by breaking the exploitive practice of “cover” records, he helped black artists control their own music and share in the proceeds of hits; and by the sheer force of his will, courage, and intelligence, he demonstrated that a black man from the urban ghetto could aspire to and conquer the heights of traditional American business, including the movie business.
Unfortunately, while doing all of this, he also found new ways to exploit his talented artists and eventually lost many of them to companies that paid them more.
The Story of Motown is the story of the rise and fall of one of the most important cultural touchstones in American history.