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Tamla-Motown Goes Outside To Get Talent; Changes Big Name Policy
DETROIT — The Tamla-Motown organization recently reversed it general policy of creating it’s own big names and has been adding standard acts to it’s own roster, including Billy Eckstine, Tony Martin and Connie Haines. Other big names — most of whom hadn’t had hit records for some time — are expected to be added to the fold.
“One of the reasons these artists hadn’t had hit product lately,” Vice-President and Sale Manager Barney Ales said, “is that they haven’t been recorded with an appeal to the record-buying public. We want to give them our sound.”
The “Detroit Sound” has been tremendously successful; the firm’s batting average is the envy of the industry. As of this week, President Berry Gordy, Jr. can point to 9 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts (another just dropped off last week) and four of these were in the top 20. Two weeks ago, the Detroit recording firm had 12 singles on the charts. The label also now has seven LP’s in the top of the chart. “Where Did Our Love Go,” by the Supremes, has been on the LP charts for 51 weeks.
What makes this all fantastic, however, is that the firm released very few singles so far this year — only 32, according to Phil Jones, marketing and research director for Motown. “Five of these records were million-sellers,” he said, “Ninety percent of these Motown Detroit recordings hit the charts.”
Five singles turned out by Gordy reached No. 1 on the Top 100. These included three by the Supremes, one by the Four Tops and one by the Temptations. Jones said that “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops sold a million and a half records. “But we have 10 or 12 artists that constantly have hits,” Jones said. “I feel we’ve made more artists than any other label.”
It was felt that the present splurge of signings, which included Jack Soo, the Lewis Sisters and Barbara McNair, the firm was branching more into the album product. Jones said that Tamla-Motown first intended to give these new signings a hit single. “They seem to be able to sell more albums that way.”
“We’ve been putting out a limited number of albums — 12 or so this year. Out of that, 10 have been on the charts and seven are still on,” Jones had said. “All these albums have proper timing — the artists are hot. I don’t consider it any sense to turn out catalog product; it’s to difficult to compete with the budget lines.
What we’re doing in signing people with talent that will fit in with material we’ve already got on hand. Our success can be attributed in part to the great producers we have working for us. For instance, the songwriting and producing team of Brian Holland, Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier have turned out six or seven releases this year, of which four have reached the No. 1 position on the chart and two or three reached the top 10.”
Smokey Robinson, the lead singer with the Miracles, also writes and produces, and Jones said that studio music director Mickey Stevenson “has also come up with quite a few hits.”
The label recently expanded overseas, and Jones and Ales had left this past Sunday, August 29, to meet with EMI officials in England to discuss establishing closer ties and more effective marketing for the label. “What we hope to do,” Jones stated, ‘is make all our artists as successful in England as the Supremes are over there.” END
(Information and news source: Billboard; September 4, 1965)
Blooming Hits was a studio instrumental album by Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra. The LP was released in 1967 and hit the number one spot in 1968. The single “Love Is Blue” hit number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 on February 4, 1968.
Mauriat’s album “Blooming Hits” stayed 2 weeks on top the Billboard LP chart from March 23, 1968 through April 5, 1968.
ONE OF THE MOST analyzed records of all time is Don McLean’s “American Pie.” While it’s commonly agreed that the song is an ode to the deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper, it’s nuances are still debated.
The closest McLean came to explaining it’s meaning was in his 2000 video, Starry Starry Night. “I’m very proud of the song,” he said. “It is biographical in nature and I don’t think anyone has ever picked up on that. The song starts off with my memories of the death of Buddy Holly. But it moves on to describe America as I was seeing it and how I was fantasizing it might become, so it’s part reality and part fantasy but I’m always in the song as a witness or as even the subject sometimes in some of the verses.”
While Don McLean never fully discussed it’s meaning, many of us have tried. The best analysis I’ve read was written by WKNR and WCFL veteran, Bob Dearborn.
Here is my breakdown of American Pie as broadcast on KRKE and XM/Sirius in 2010.
— Scott Westerman February 1, 2012
American Pie. Revisited.
A special THANK YOU to Scott Westerman for sharing his special Sirius XM ‘American Pie: Deciphered’ (2010) with Motor City Radio Flashbacks.
For more on the events of February 3, 1959, on this website, GO HERE.
TOM CLAY CKLW aircheck date: Wednesday, June 17, 1964
NEW! A special THANK YOU to Bob Pratt, of Farmington Hills, MI, for recently donating his CKLW radio aircheck (unscoped!) to Motor City Radio Flashbacks!
* THE BOB PRATT COLLECTION *
A MCRFB Note: Tom Clay’s very last show on CKLW was Friday, June 19, 1964.
Eighteen years ago today. A voice was stilled.
Martha Jean. Beloved in memory by many, simply remembered as, “The Queen“.
She was heralded having been the voice of the city . . . whose daily broadcasts inspired “generations of radio listeners” in Detroit for nearly four decades.
Eighteen years ago today. We remember.
More on the passing of Martha Jean Steinberg. Tomorrow. On Motor City Radio Flashbacks
Music Happenings In and Around Detroit Town, 1968
DETROIT — (02/1968) — Janis Ian appeared in concert Friday (26) at the Masonic Auditorium . . . . The Sam and Dave Revue opened Friday (2) at Cobo Hall, including an 18-piece orchestra and other acts from the Stax/Volt stable of artists. . . . Rhetta Hughes appeared in the Roostertail’s main dining room during the week of Jan. 18-24 . . . . Red Buttons headlined at the Roostertail for 10 days through Feb. 3, and the Four Tops are scheduled to open there Monday (12) . . . . MGM Records will present the Every Mother’s Son as part of a promotional campaign at the Roostertail’s Upper Deck for Robin Seymour‘s celebrity night on Wednesday (14) . . . . Bob Harper is the new disk jockey at WKNR, filling the all-night spot . . . . The all-night spot at WCHB is now being filled by Ron White, and Leon Ivan is the new early afternoon disk jockey for WJLB.
Dave Shafer, formerly with CKLW, is now head promotion man for Record Distributors here . . . . Tom Shannon, top disk jockey at CKLW, has scheduled his second TV production with WJBK Channel 2 for Friday (16). The format of the show will consist of a discussion about radio with other Detroit area disk jockeys. Representing the other stations in the area for Shannon’s discussion will be Ernie Durham for WJLB, Dick Purtan for WKNR, Hank O’Neal for WJBK, and Bill Williams for WCHB. Video tapes will be shown of performances by the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and Every Mother’s Son . . . . Laura Lee is currently performing at the Phelps Cocktail Lounge, and James Carr has just closed there . . . . CKLW Channel 9 plans to begin a weekly taping of live, nightclub type shows at the 20 Grand Driftwood Lounge, to be telecast on Thursdays. Aretha Franklin will perform her first Detroit concert Friday (16) at the Cobo Hall Arena. With her will be Erma Franklin and the Young-Holt Unlimited . . . . Al Williams will present the “Memphis sounds Show” at the Riviera Theater for seven days, Feb. 23-29. This show will include Eddie Floyd, Barbara Merger, Pat Lewis, J. J. Barnes, the Holidays, Pig Meat Markham, the Casanovas, Dusty Williams, Denis Thomas, Ruby Andrews and Timmy Willis . . . . Don Davis, formerly the music director for Solid Hitbound Productions here, has set out to start his own operation under the name of Groovesville Records.
One of the first acts signed on WCHB, has been appointed production manager for that station . . . . Motown Record Co. has filed suit for $1 million against a theater here which recently opened, calling itself the “Beverly Motown Theater.” Motown Records contends the name is a fraud on the public and an “unlawful infringement” on the Motown trade name . . . . MGM’s Orpheus is set for the Chessmate through Sunday (11) . . . . Philip’s 4 Seasons are scheduled for a Detroit concert, Friday (23).
(Information and news source: Billboard: February 10, 1968)