Page last updated at 05:27 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Motown marks its 50th anniversary

Berry Gordy in Beverly Hills, California, file pic from April 2008
Mr Gordy started the label from a studio in his cellar with an $800 loan

Motown Records, one of the most influential record labels in the history of popular music, is marking its 50th anniversary.

Originally called Tamla, the label was founded by songwriter and businessman Berry Gordy in the US city of Detroit.

He started the label in 1959 from a studio in his cellar with an $800 loan.

Motown Records boasts nearly 200 No 1 songs worldwide, and has produced stars from Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye to The Temptations and The Supremes.

The trademark of Motown was developing black musical talent and, during the 1960s and 1970s, the label helped launch the careers of a long line of stars such as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Michael Jackson.

Mr Gordy changed the label's name to Motown in honour of the city's dominant position in the then-thriving US auto industry.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Congratulations, Motown on 50 great years!
Regina-Gabrielle Berry, Toronto

In its heyday, Berry Gordy likened the label's promoting of black artists to an automobile assembly line that transformed plain metal frames into gleaming motorcars.

While the label had its political moments, it was the crossover appeal of its optimistic, upbeat sound that perhaps did most to help break down racial barriers, says the BBC's Jamie Coomarasamy in Detroit.

Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
A to Z of Motown Records
09 Jan 09 |  Entertainment
Motown veteran Hunter dies at 79
05 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
Empty Motown offices demolished
26 Jan 06 |  Entertainment
Soul star Smokey sued over gumbo
14 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
Ex-Temptations singer sues group
15 Oct 03 |  Entertainment

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific