Showing posts with label Motown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Motown. Show all posts



The Isley Brothers - Ronald & Ernie Isley

Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 7:30 PM
2901 Grand River Ave, Detroit, Michigan 48201
Performance Art Theatre
(313) 309-4700



What does it mean to be a Detroit Music Award Winner? Having won my 3rd award in the last 2 years I believe I am now qualified to give an answer.

 Anyone with a pulse on the planet knows that Detroit is now and has always been a mecca breeding ground for outstanding world class musicians.  If you don't agree just research any major band of yesteryear and today including all genres and you will find at least one band member that is from the Detroit area. Don't forget to include individual artists (didn't think I needed to mention that but okay) Some 25+ years ago (I don't have exact specifics) someone decided that these musicians deserved to be recognized and celebrated in their home town and thus the Detroit Music Awards was born.  I only learned of these awards about 5 years ago and was surprised to find out that the event had been around for so long.

Not only is it an event that awards musicians for doing great things in music, it is also one of the biggest networking parties of the year for musicians. I have certainly benefitted from each experience since the first time I was nominated in 2012. Since then, I have had the pleasure of working with so many wonderfully talented musicians from the area who are local and national artists.  The experiences, opportunities, and education that I have received and still going through is something you could never find in a book or classroom (although I heavily support proper education).  The greatest feeling I get from it is the amazing respect that most of us have for each other and the musical families that have been created. 

I don't really say much but I wanted to share these thoughts with you.  And, on that note I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to my city, my wonderful musical relationships and to the endless support given to me by all which has allowed me to be a recipient of such an honor and  to be successful doing what I love best....spreading joy through song. I wish all of my fellow musicians here and abroad all the success in your journeys and many blessings along the way.  I only ask that you give thanks and pay it forward.  Blessings to all.

P.S. If you are in the Hamtramck area tonight, you can catch me with one of my bands 'Constant Velocity' at the Fowling Warehouse located at 3901 Christopher st from 9 to 1!  Ciao!!




Don Davis
Photo Credit: John Urbanek

Sad news tonight....Don "The Don" Davis perhaps the most successful business mogul in Detroit history passed away yesterday at 75.

DETROIT (June 6, 2014) – The Wilmore Agency regrets to announce the passing of Detroit native Mr. Don Davis after a brief illness on Thursday, June 5th.

Don Davis was CEO and chairman of First Independence Bank, Michigan’s only African-American owned and operated commercial bank, with multiple branches around the City of Detroit. A notably, successful endeavor, Mr. Davis led First Independence Bank with $204 million in assets (as of December 31, 2013), and was ranked as one of the top ranked African American owned bank in the United States, according to Black Enterprise Magazine.

Don Davis famous for his early work as a pioneering Motown session guitarist, then his historic work at United Sound Systems. He produced and/or played on numerous soul hits with the greatest soul artists of the 1960's and 1970s. Don left USS in Detroit and went to work at STAX in Memphis.He produced hits too numerous to list here...but you can see them on BlackRadioNetwork

Don was also a well known philanthropist, Davis partnered with the Lawrence P. Doss Scholarship Foundation to launch The Don Davis Composition Scholarship Award, which assists Detroit's underprivileged students in their educational goals.

Our friend John Neff who worked for Don back in the day has shared many stories about the amazing accomplishments of Don Davis... Read more here

Don passed away after a brief illness yesterday...and more details will be released soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with Don's lovely wife Kiko and his three wonderful children.



"Motown was about music for all people - white and black, blue and green, cops and robbers. I was reluctant to have our music alienate anyone." - Berry Gordy

Having grown up in the metro Detroit area, I had heard of the Hitsville museum but never visited. Hitsville is the original home of Motown Records and the very famous Studio A. Most of the original Motown artist recorded there. Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five, just to name a few.

These and countless other international stars got their start on their road to fame in this small unassuming converted house on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit less than 5 miles from downtown. I like Motown music, but I am a rocker at heart.

However, one of my son's biggest idols is Stevie Wonder, so we decided to take him on a field trip to Hitsville USA. To my surprise the visit turned out to be far beyond my expectations. The feelings that transpired when I walked through the doors are difficult to describe. Reading about it just doesn't do justice to this Detroit gem.

The admission for the one and a half hour tour was only $10.00. The tour sparked the realization of the immense impact that Hitsville and Motown Records had on the world. We are talking about the late 1950's and 60's, during a time of a segregated society when Barry Gordy, an African American man, left his secure job at Ford Motor Company to pursue his dream. He borrowed $800 to start his recording studio / label.

Within six years, his company was generating $20,000,000 per year. That in itself is amazing. What business even today has that kind of growth rate? At that time, Barry Gordy's company became the largest African American company in the country and according to some accounts, the largest in the world. When we toured the house, we stood in the small recording room that produced over 100 top 10 hits within 10 years.

Today, the museum represents so much more then just great music. People come from all over the world to visit including many famous musicians of all genres, such as Paul McCartney, who claimed to be "moved by the energy in the building."

The visit to Hitsville USA was a completely different experience for me than for my son who is an aspiring singer. He was fascinated with everything he learned about Stevie Wonder and the other great musicians. For me, I learned so much about what it means to have the faith, courage and drive to pursue a dream.

The Hitsville USA museum isn't only for Motown lovers. This landmark represents so much more. This is a place for all people who need to be reminded that their daydreams about leaving their jobs during insecure times to pursue a passion can become a reality.

This is a place for musicians of all genres. It is a place of musical inspiration to those who put in endless hours into the labor of love composing the right blend of lyrics and melodies with the goal of having their songs become hits.

This is a place for all those people who have experienced struggles and setbacks and need to be reminded of what faith, courage and drive is all about as they pick themselves up, dust themselves off and continue on.

Because the experience was so inspiring to me and also because I’m sure I missed some things, I plan to revisit Hitsville USA museum in the near future. I also plan to bring some friends along to share the experience. At some point I would love to meet the man who represents so much to all types of people, "white and black, blue and green, cops and robbers”~ Mr. Berry Gordy.

Jackie Wallace



James Lee Jamerson was an American bass player. He was the uncredited bassist on most of the Motown Records hits in the 1960s and early 1970s and he is now regarded as one of the most influential bass players in modern music history.

Born: January 29, 1936, Charleston, SC Died: August 2, 1983, Los Angeles, CA Record label: Motown Records Music group: The Funk Brothers (1959 – 1972) Albums: Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson  Wiki

Legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson single-handedly revolutionized bass playing. Throughout the entire classic Motown catalog (and some non-Motown sides), Jamerson shaped a new inventive style of bass playing and brought what had been regarded by some as a "minor" instrument to the forefront through the use of the electric Fender bass, powered by his musical genius and amazing dexterity.

Jamerson  was the first Motown bassist to incorporate a fresh perspective and intuitiveness along with his own jazz/blues-oriented background to Motown founder Berry Gordy's R&B/pop leanings. The innovative bassist moved R&B/pop bass playing from the standard two-beat root fifth (dum-de de de-dum dum) to an approach that was more dynamic: using zipping passing tones, Ray Brown-like walking bass lines, double stops, and syncopation. Jamerson's playing was nothing short of revolutionary.

James Jamerson Biography by Ed Hogan




Norman Jesse Whitfield 5/12/1940- 09/16/ 2008 This weekend I saw a bit about Norman on VH1 or one of those shows. It got me thinking about just was an influence he has been on my life and also my musical collection. I wrote about "I Know I am Losing You" which The Temptations and The Faces both had hits with. Also take a look at "Heard it Through the Grapevine" which was a hit for Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye and Creedance Clearwater Revival.

What is most interesting to me is that Norman's music was cool to young audiences period. The Motown fans loved it, soul music fans loved it, white rock n rollers loved it, blues cats dug it... See what I mean? Even country music fans dug Norman Whitfield! Norman Whitfield was an American songwriter and producer, best known for his work with Motown during the 1960s/1970s.

He is credited as being one of the ultimate creators of the Motown Sound, as well as a major figure in the late-60s sub-genre of psychedelic soul. Blending soul music with white rock n roll changed the face of music and the climate of racial equality is this country forever. His career was the envy of the music business for 20 years and beyond.
From 1966 to 1974, Whitfield produced most all of material, experimenting with sound effects and other production techniques. He found a songwriting collaborator in lyricist Barrett Strong the performer on Motown's first hit record, "Money." Norman wrote material for The Temptations and many other Motown artists such as Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & the Pips, both of whom recorded Whitfield's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine". The Gladys Knight & the Pips version was the best version in my opinion I loved the drums and that raw opening with Gladys's emotional voice., but Marvin's version outsold it by a long shot.


After Temptations lead singer David Ruffin was fired and Dennis Edwards stepped into the lead role in 1968, Whitfield moved the group into a harder, darker sound that featured a blend of psychedelic rock and funk heavily inspired by the work of Sly & the Family Stone and Funkadelic and also began changing the subject matter of the songs, moving away from love songs to the social issues of the time, such as war, poverty and politics.

The first Temptations single to feature this new "psychedelic soul" style was "Cloud Nine" in late 1968, which earned Motown its first Grammy award (for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance by a Duo or Group).

A second Best R&B Group Performance Grammy for Whitfield and the Temptations came in 1973 with "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone". The single's instrumental B-side earned Whitfield a Grammy with arranger Paul Riser for Best R&B Instrumental Performance, and Whitfield and Strong shared the songwriters' award for Best R&B Song Take a look at this man's discography... Definitely was the soundtrack to Detroit life.

Production and Songwriting at Motown *

1963: "Pride & Joy" - Marvin Gaye * 1964: "Too Many Fish in the Sea" - The Marvelettes * 1964: "Needle in a Haystack" - The Velvelettes * 1964: "Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)" - The Temptations * 1966: "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" - The Temptations * 1966: "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" - The Temptations * 1966: "(I Know) I'm Losing You" - The Temptations * 1967: "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" - Gladys Knight & the Pips, * 1967: "You're My Everything" - The Temptations * 1967: "I Wish It Would Rain" - The Temptations * 1968: "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" - The Temptations * 1968: "The End of Our Road" - Gladys Knight & The Pips * 1968: "Cloud Nine" - The Temptations * 1969: "Friendship Train" - Gladys Knight & the Pips * 1969: "Runaway Child, Running Wild" - The Temptations * 1969: "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" - Marvin Gaye * 1969: "I Can't Get Next to You" - The Temptations * 1970: "Ball of Confusion" - The Temptations * 1970: "War" - Edwin Starr * 1971: "Smiling Faces Sometimes" - The Undisputed Truth, * 1971: "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" - The Temptations * 1972: "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" - The Temptations * 1973: "Masterpiece" - The Temptations
Norman Jesse Whitfield

I have met some people recently that have worked with Norman and they all tell me the same thing. He was difficult to work for... but oh what a genius behind the boards. He was a bit of a recluse and did not suffer fools. Seems that most of our truly amazing musicians and producers were a bit odd. Phil Specter, Keith Richards, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Fred Sonic Smith. All gifted with genius but somewhat lacking in social skills... I know that is a huge understatement... Magical Norman Whitfield...what an accomplished career. So proud to have had him in Detroit for many years... Read More on RK Florence Ballard Shindig and Hullabaloo Lou Christie



Ken Settle From the film archives: Many, many years ago, I wanted to go photograph what remained of the old Motown Studio B. Though everyone knows about Motown's "Hitsville" Studio A, relatively few people were familiar with Studio B on Davison near Livernois in Detroit. This was the location of Golden World Records, who had a hit with The Reflections "Just Like Romeo and Juliet." In the mid '60s, Berry Gordy purchased Golden World and turned it into Studio B. This was the place where many of the incredible Motown vocals, horns and strings were overdubbed.

Most pivotal to me, was that Marvin Gaye's vocals for the groundbreaking What's Going On masterpiece were done right here at Studio B. Studio B sat vacant for much of the time after Motown moved to L.A. and has finally been torn down. At the time that I photographed this, you could still see a very weather worn Motown Studio B sign on the side of the battered structure.

I used the old Kodak Recording Film 2475 for this photo, because I wanted the incredibly grainy results that this film gave, along with its extended red sensitivity. I became real interested in that film for a time after I learned that many of the photos of the '67 Detroit riots were shot on this film. It was one of the first high speed (ISO 1000) films ever. Every time I look at this photo, I hear Marvin Gaye singing "Mother, Mother, there's too many of you crying."



Robert "Bootsey X" Mulrooney

It is with great sadness that I post the news that Bootsey X passed away at around 7 pm November 28th at Detroit Receiving Hospital. I loved how much joy he found in performing...and I am honored to pay tribute to Bob tonight...

Stanley T. Madhatter introduced me to Bob at a fundraiser in 2009 at the Painted Lady in Hamtramck. Bob was very ill then and his many friends gathered to raise money for his medical care. Madhatter adored Bob and spoke of him all the time. Madhatter and I sat at my computer and played all of Bob's videos the next day.  My very favorite video is Secret Agent Man...

Bob was so damn cute...had such a girlie crush on him. We became buddies on Facebook in 2010 and real life too. While chatting one night, I invited him to go with me to an appearance at the Guitar Center Drum Off. He was just the best to photograph! He and I had a blast shooting that night.

Bootsey at The Drum Off

What a fun night with Bootsey and Gerald Shohan his best friend, his guitarist and his protector. The love and friendhip these two men shared was so inspiring. My heart goes out to Gerald tonight. This tribute is to Gerald as well, and his magnificent giving soul.

"Would like to believe that Lili is pouring my friend Bootsey X a few shots at that great rock bar up in the sky tonight. Safe passage, my friend. We'll see you again further on up the road..."

Bill Holdship "You have to go with me to this crazy 'History of Rock' class I'm taking at community college, Bill. The teacher is an idiot. And she's crazy. I don't know how she got to teach anything! She talked about Altamont and then said, 'After that, someone was killed at almost every Rolling Stones concert for years!' I raised my hand and told her that isn't true...and crazy bitch got mad at me! So now I'm afraid i'm going to flunk 'History of Rock' at community college!" --Bootsey X
 Joe Michnuk and Bootsey X

Joe Michnuk "I visited Bootsey X over the last several years we would go out for pizza when he was still able to walk. He loved Loui's Pizza in Hazel Park. It was always cheese pizza no toppings that was his favorite. After he lost the ability to walk, I'd visit him with vanilla ice cream since everyone else brought the pizza.
We'd eat as much of a half gallon as two guys could & tell stories about chicks 'n music. We made each other laugh so hard that the nurses would come in to see what was going on. They all called me "The Ice Cream Man" @ both HFH & St Joe's Nursing Home. I'll miss his sense of humor & tremendous creative genius the most."

Last year we had a small holiday party in Ann Arbor. Gerald and Bootsey came out and they performed my favorite...SECRET AGENT MAN.  Kyle Davis and his band backed up Bob and Gerald on RAMROD BABY too which the young guns really loved...

My friends Danny Creadon, Steve, and Art Godoy headlined that party and were just in love with Bob. As more information comes in I will update this tribute..Not sure about any details as of yet.

Willy Wilson R.I.P. Bootsey X (Robert Mulrooney) - Too many great memories to share from shows, parties, record stores and the launching pad. Bob was a true rock n' roll legend. I picture him in the great Fortune Records building in the sky talking musical smack with Jim Shaw and Tony Fusco. 

Kelly, Valorie, and Bootsey X Chris Scott Dellas "He was a cat I always looked up to and admired. He seemed to drum for every band I saw when I was a teenager and later I rarely missed a Bootsey X show. He was always cool and smiling with me and always treated me with kindness. This many people are mourning not just Bob's passing, but not being able to see him make people happy again from the stage. Thanks man for being nice to a once-dopey kid."

Valorie Synwolt Bob was a jewel. He was genuine genius. There is an angel rockin in the name of Detroit out there- he was a true friend- my heart is shattered, because I got back home too late to sing with him one more time.I will miss my Boot Karen Neal Looks like Bootsey X is re-united with Julie Hecker. Prayers for Robert Mulrooney's loved ones and family and of course, remembering Josie Salash and the Hecker family too! Rest in peace!!!

Jerry Vile In addition to fronting or drumming for virtually every band in Detroit Bob was a very good writer. He was on staff of White Noise And had his own page in issue 4.

Jerry Vile and Bootsey X I will miss you Bob. You are the spirit of rock and roll and everything else worthy of vinyl. Hopefully one day we will build a memorial to you. Rock In Peace..

Mortichia Pippenshmooze I will really look forward to seeing Robert Mulrooney on the other side, where as somebody said, he will be surrounded by music and babes. Boots was always so sweet. He was the only man who ever asked me to be a "Sugarbaby of Soul" but I can't sing. I could only shake my ass and dance along. So much fun. Sad sad goodbye for now.

Andi Sparks Divetta ...and another light goes out.Robert Mulrooney was a strange and wonderful creature. just the way i like them. love to all of our hearts who knew him. there are so many. I love my friends and what they do. Bootsey X Joe McGuire Bob sold me my first record when I was 12 years old at Desirable Discs II in Dearborn (and he sold me many more after that).

Later I worked with him at Peoples Records when I was in college. He was always really nice to me, friendly and very funny. He was one of those rare unique individuals and it's really sad to hear that he passed.

To all who knew him and supported him in his life and in his art I send my heartfelt condolences. Joe Kidd ... i first met bob at a bar on michigan ave in inkster. he was drumming in a band called STREETS. i was in my first band called THE SILVER CHORDS. we were friends right from the start. we loved each others music. it was around 1976. we were all doing a lot of cover songs then. bob used to come to see us just to hear us do 'under my thumb' 'you better move on' and the big blue oyster cult hit 'dont fear the reaper'. i remember at the end of one summer night somehow we had in our possession a bow & arrows. we were firing them into the sky trying to shoot out the streetlamps on schoolcraft road. . - peace to you - j.k. //oo\\



The Funk Brothers, Motown's famed backing musicians, will be getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 21 in Los Angeles. Percussionist Jack Ashford and guitarist Eddie Willis, as well as several of the late Funks' family members will be there to bask in the glow of the Tinseltown honor. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity; I couldn't miss this," said Joe Hunter Jr., son of the late pianist Joe Hunter, the first bandleader for Motown's band in 1959. He scraped up the money to fly out with his wife. "Too many people sacrificed to make this happen."

The march of time has depleted the ranks of the Motown band over the years since their 1960's heyday. Most of the Funks were older than the Motown stars they backed up, having come to the "Snakepit" recording studio at 2648 W. Grand Blvd. as seasoned pros from Detroit's vibrant jazz scene.

Hunter had already been touring for years backing up Hank Ballard & The Midnighters, Little Willie John and other R&B greats before setting foot in Motown's studio. Several key members of the group were gone well before Allan Slutsky's book about Motown bass legend James Jamerson, "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" came out in the late 1980s. Jamerson died, largely unknown, in 1983, and drummer Benny Benjamin had passed on years before that in 1969. FULL STORY HERE
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