Motown

DuranDuran

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McKinley Jackson interview (December 9, 2016)

McKinley Jackson was a member of the 1970s funk band The Politicians (not on Motown) and is also a producer, but he did some session work at Motown and worked with some of the acts on the label. This is a new interview
 

DuranDuran

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By Richard Sandomir | April 18, 2017 | New York Times
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Sylvia Moy and Stevie Wonder, with, behind from left, James Jamerson, Earl Van Dyke and Robert White of the Funk Brothers, in 1967.

Sylvia Moy, a Motown songwriter and producer who collaborated with Stevie Wonder on “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” and “My Cherie Amour,” and who was a co-writer of hits for the Marvin Gaye-Kim Weston duet and the Isley Brothers, died on Saturday in Dearborn, Mich. She was 78.

Her sister Anita Moy said that the cause was complications of pneumonia.

Sylvia Moy’s arrival at Motown in 1964 coincided with the company’s concerns about the future of Mr. Wonder’s career. A year earlier, “Fingertips Pt. 2,” a mostly instrumental number that showcased the 13-year-old prodigy’s virtuosity on the harmonica, reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and R&B charts.

But his subsequent recordings were not as successful, and Motown executives were uncertain what to do with him as he grew into adulthood.

“There was an announcement in a meeting that Stevie’s voice had changed, and they didn’t know exactly how to handle that,” Ms. Moy said in an interview after her induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006. “They asked for volunteers. None of the guys would volunteer. They were going to have to let him go.”

Whether Berry Gordy Jr., Motown’s founder and patriarch, would have released an artist as talented as Mr. Wonder is debatable. But Mr. Gordy did not have to make the decision. After the meeting, Ms. Moy beseeched Mickey Stevenson, the head of artists and repertoire at Motown, to give her a chance to work with Mr. Wonder.

“Let this be my assignment,” she said she told Mr. Stevenson. “I don’t believe it’s over for him. Let me have Stevie.”

She said that she asked Mr. Wonder to play some of the “ditties” he had been working on, but she heard nothing that sounded like a hit. Then, as she was leaving, he played one final snippet of music for her and sang, “Baby, everything is all right.” There wasn’t much more, she recalled, and she told him that she would take it home and work on the melody and lyrics.

With the songwriting help of Henry Cosby, a Motown producer, “Uptight” was completed.

In the recording studio, though, there was no transcription of the lyrics into Braille for Mr. Wonder to read from. So Ms. Moy sang the words to him through his earphones.

“I would stay a line ahead of him and we didn’t miss a beat,” she said in a video interview in 2014 with Michelle Wilson, an independent producer based in Virginia Beach.
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Moy and Wonder during the 37th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony in New York in 2006.

“It’s certainly true that Sylvia found his sweet spot with the material,” Adam White, who wrote the book “Motown: The Sound of Young America” (2016) with the longtime Motown executive Barney Ales, said in a telephone interview. “She brought a fresh approach, a musical discipline and a rapport that produced songs of a high caliber.”

“Uptight” topped the R&B chart and rose to No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100. It also led to further work for Ms. Moy with Mr. Wonder and Mr. Cosby on songs like “My Cherie Amour” (1969), “Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby” (1966) and “I Was Made to Love Her” (1967), which included Mr. Wonder’s mother, Lula Mae Hardaway, as a co-writer. Ms. Moy said that Mr. Wonder’s title for “My Cherie Amour” had been “Oh, My Marcia,” but she gave it a French twist.

She also collaborated with Mr. Stevenson on “It Takes Two,” recorded by Mr. Gaye and Ms. Weston, which reached No. 14 on the Hot 100 in 1967. She wrote “This Old Heart of Mine,” a No. 12 hit for the Isley Brothers in 1966, with Lamont Dozier and Brian and Eddie Holland, one of Motown’s most prolific songwriting teams.

Sylvia Rose Moy was born on Sept. 15, 1938, in Detroit, where, she told The Detroit Free Press, she “played the piano on the radiator and made musical instruments out of food boxes.” She told Mr. White that her father, Melvin, an appliance repairman, and her mother, the former Hazel Redgell, a homemaker, were the inspirations for “I Was Made to Love Her.”

After high school, Ms. Moy traveled to New York City to promote her songs but found no takers. One rejection from a record company executive stuck to her for decades. “You’re not a bad singer, but I want to give you some advice you can use for the rest of your life,” she recalled him telling her, “You will never be a songwriter.”

(Years later, she said, the same executive asked Mr. Gordy if he could buy out her songwriting contract at Motown.)

When Ms. Moy returned home to Detroit, she sang at the Caucus Club, where Mr. Gaye and Mr. Stevenson invited her to Motown. The label signed her to recording, management and songwriter contracts.

The songs that had been spurned in New York were welcomed at Motown. But she was told that singing would have to wait; songwriting took precedence. She also produced records at Motown, making her its second notable woman producer after Mr. Gordy’s second wife, Raynoma Gordy Singleton, who died last year.

Ms. Moy left Motown in 1973 when the company moved to Los Angeles and signed with 20th Century Records as a singer, songwriter and producer. She also worked as a mentor to young people interested in the arts.

In addition to her sister Anita, she is survived by four other sisters, Angel Moy-Adams, Celeste Moy-Street, Francetta Moy-Johnson and Merrill Moy-Thompson, and two brothers, Melvin and Christopher. She never married and had no children, Anita Moy said.

At Ms. Moy’s induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Mr. Wonder sang “My Cherie Amour.” In an interview afterward, he praised her for finding “unique ways to take the melodies I wrote and putting them into a lyric that was incredible, that touched many hearts.”
 

Silouette

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Yes, I heard about this earlier this week. A talented person in her own right. Impressive resume.

Thanks for the article.

Rest in peace Ms. Moy.
 

barbee0715

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I watched a few interviews with her on YouTube last night. Gifted. Thank goodness she saw something more in Stevie too.
 

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By Kory Grow | February 2, 2018 | Rolling Stone
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Dennis Edwards, a former lead singer of Motown pioneers the Temptations, sang on a string of the group's hits including "I Can't Get Next to You," "Ball of Confusion" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone." He joined in an initial tenure that stretched to 1977, has died. His family confirmed the news to CBS News. He was 74.

Edwards, who was living in Missouri, died at a hospital in Chicago on Thursday night of complications from meningitis, his wife, Brenda, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was diagnosed with the disease in May 2017. His 75th birthday would have been on Saturday. Edwards was inducted into the Rick and Roll Hall of Fame with the Temptations in 1989. In 2013, Edwards also received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, given to the Temptations.

"It really saddens me to know that another Motown soldier is gone. Rest In Peace my brother. You were a great talent," Smokey Robinson tells Rolling Stone.

Edwards, who was born February 3rd, 1943 in Birmingham, Alabama and was singing in the Contours prior to the Temptations, joined the soul hit makers when the group fired David Ruffin. He brought a fresh vivacity to the group's sound, a bit of grit to replace Ruffin's smooth falsetto. The group adopted a little more of a bluesy, soul-rock sound and began writing lyrics that spoke more to the social issues of the time, and it scored an immediate hit with the Sly Stone-like "Cloud Nine." Edwards' lineup of the Temptations then enjoyed a tenure in the upper echelons of the R&B and pop charts for the next few ears, scoring crossover hits with "Run Away Child, Running Wild," "Don't Let the Jonses Get You Down," "Psychedelic Shack and "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)."

Although the group continued to score Top 10 R&B hits toward the end of Edwards' tenure, they scored less in the pop charts' Top 30. Nevertheless, they were selling albums. Every album of new material that they put out through 1976 reached the album chart's Top 40, and many made it into the Top 10.

The group split with Motown for 1976's The Temptations Do the Temptations and moved to Atlantic, around which time Edwards left the group. He rejoined for a few years in the early Eighties, when they returned to Motown, and scored a hit again with 1980's "Power." The attendant album, The Temptations, however was not a hit. Ruffin returned in 1982, and the group embarked on a reunion tour as a seven-man group, scoring a hit with 1982's Reunion and the Rick James–produced single "Standing on the Top (Part 1)." He left in 1983 but was back in 1986 for a year, just long enough to record To Be Continued. He'd join again for a final tenure from 1987 to 1989.

Outside of the Temptations, Edwards scored a solo hit with "Don't Look Any Further," which made it to Number 72 on the pop chart and Number 2 on the R&B chart. The song later became fodder for the hip-hop's nascent new school, appearing as a sample in Eric B. and Rakim's game-changing "Paid in Full" and later in 2Pac's "Hit 'Em Up" and Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s "Getting' Money" with the Notorious B.I.G.
 

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">RIP Dennis Edwards, beautiful soul who gave me my first shot by recording and performing our classic duet “Don’t Look Any Further”, we’ve lost another great one. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DennisEdwards?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DennisEdwards</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheTemptations?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheTemptations</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DontLookAnyFurther?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DontLookAnyFurther</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RIPDennisEdwards?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RIPDennisEdwards</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThankYouDennisEdwars?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ThankYouDennisEdwars</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/restinpeace?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#restinpeace</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FridayFeeling?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FridayFeeling</a> <a href="https://t.co/cA5JkIdiQr">pic.twitter.com/cA5JkIdiQr</a></p>&mdash; SIEDAH GARRETT (@SIEDAHGARRETT) <a href="https://twitter.com/SIEDAHGARRETT/status/959516032166780928?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 2, 2018</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Dennis Edwards, former lead, singer of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Temptations?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Temptations</a>. I went to visit him at <a href="https://twitter.com/RushMedical?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RushMedical</a>. He slept away. In his life he inspired millions around the world. We shall all remember him. So talented. He is above <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CloudNine?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CloudNine</a>, going higher. RIP my brother beloved. <a href="https://t.co/yg888HnOWz">pic.twitter.com/yg888HnOWz</a></p>&mdash; Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) <a href="https://twitter.com/RevJJackson/status/959511153029369856?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 2, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">R.I.P. Dennis Edwards one of my favorites in the industry. Good Soul &#128591;&#127999; Great Artist !!!! <a href="https://t.co/K6k8mkY5Iq">pic.twitter.com/K6k8mkY5Iq</a></p>&mdash; MC HAMMER (@MCHammer) <a href="https://twitter.com/MCHammer/status/959514303127724032?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 2, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Hitsville movie: The Making Of Motown In English Soon On DVD And Blu-ray

I know i shouldn't but if anyone interested

After it's broadcast, a DVD will be released on October 7 in England but only in English. A Blu-ray version is also planned.

a compilation of the best titles appearing on this documentary will be exploited in CD and Vinyl. Two different pockets will be proposed for the CD version.

Hitsville: The Making of Motown focuses on the period beginning with the birth of the company in Detroit in 1958 until its relocation to Los Angeles in the early 1970s.

The story of Motown is told through interviews with the label's visionary founder, Berry Gordy, and many of its superstar artists and creative figures, as well as rare performances and behind-the-scenes footage unearthed from Motown s vaults and Gordy's personal archives.The doc is the first documentary about the iconic label with Gordy's participation.

Preorder:https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07X4HR...ive=6410&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=B07X4HRQK1
 

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October 7 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the Jackson 5’s debut single “I Want You Back” on Motown Records. “I Want You Back” introduced the world to the Jackson 5, “and specifically their enormously talented lead singer Michael Jackson,” says Jack Hamilton, assistant professor of American studies and media studies at the University of Virginia and pop critic for Slate magazine.

“I Want You Back” was written by the Corporation, a songwriting team including Deke Richards, Freddie Perren, Alphonso Mizell and Motown founder Berry Gordy. And even though the Jacksons were qualified musicians, Motown hired highly skilled studio musicians to record the song’s instrumental track, including the Jazz Crusaders’ Joe Sample and Wilton Felder.

“This jewel was cut before the Jacksons got into the studio,” writer David Ritz says. “The Jacksons of course had to put the gleam on the jewel, but it is very much a producer-driven vehicle.”

While the songwriting and instrumentation remain of the highest quality, the most attention-grabbing element of the recording is the bright rambunctious voice of a young Michael Jackson singing the lead. “Michael Jackson’s voice, for one, is pure, it’s pristine and it’s clear,” says Melissa A. Weber a.k.a. WWOZ’s DJ Soul Sister. But, “as bright as his vocal is, the lyric is a bit dark.”

The lyrics detail the story of a male narrator who disregarded his lover and is now begging to have her back. “You’ve never heard a vocal quite like this before from a prepubescent child,” Hamilton says. “He really conveys this sense of desperation ... and all these things that you would not normally expect for an 11-year-old to be able to get across so effectively.”

“I Want You Back” also marks the beginning of Motown’s operational transition from Detroit to Los Angeles. The Jackson 5 were one of the first Motown groups who recorded almost all their material in Los Angeles. “It really marked the end of the classic Detroit-era of Motown,” Hamilton says.

“Not only did [“I Want You Back”] take off,” Ritz says, “it was like a rocket ship.” “I Want You Back” went to number one on the pop charts, as did the next three Jackson 5 single releases. “There was Jacksonmania back then, way before Michael struck out on his own as a solo star,” says Adam White, author of “Motown: The Sound of Young America.”

Jackson’s alleged molestation of young boys, depicted pretty convincingly in the recent HBO documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” has led some people to stop listening to his songs altogether. But some of those same fans give “I Want You Back” and other early Jackson 5 recordings a pass, since Michael Jackson was himself a child when he recorded them.

“I feel some discomfort listening to some of Michael Jackson’s music — particularly some of the music he made when he was older and more firmly in adulthood,” Hamilton says. “I don’t really have a problem listening to a song like ‘I Want You Back,’ partly because I love it so much but also because it’s probably one of the least complicated artifacts in Michael Jackson’s catalog.”

https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-10-03/50th-anniversary-i-want-you-back
 

NatureCriminal7896

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">&#10024;Motown&#39;s 25th Anniversary was held at the Pasadena on March 25, 1983. <br>Michael Jackson was only 24 years old when he did the Moonwalk for the first time&#10024; <a href="https://t.co/D1W8nvnzcr">pic.twitter.com/D1W8nvnzcr</a></p>&mdash; &#9819; |&#9994;&#55356;&#57339;&#9994;&#55356;&#57343;| &#9819; (@Omar_777_) <a href="https://twitter.com/Omar_777_/status/1242846733090111489?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 25, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">37 years ago today, Michael Jackson appeared on the TV special &quot;Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever&quot; where he performed Billie Jean for the first time in front of a live audience. <a href="https://t.co/XReDRTCXfG">pic.twitter.com/XReDRTCXfG</a></p>&mdash; &#55349;&#56436;&#55349;&#56450;&#55349;&#56469;&#55349;&#56469;&#55349;&#56457;&#55349;&#56454;&#55349;&#56472; (@historyxmike) <a href="https://twitter.com/historyxmike/status/1242607348281151488?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 25, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">&#8220;He told the director, he told everybody, how he wanted that stage, what type of lighting he wanted. He told them where to put the spotlight. &#8216;When I put my finger like this &#8230;&#8217; He directed them.&#8221; &#8211; Suzee Ikeda on Michael&#8217;s direction that lead to his Moonwalk debut on Motown 25. <a href="https://t.co/RfbmbawRUG">pic.twitter.com/RfbmbawRUG</a></p>&mdash; Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) <a href="https://twitter.com/michaeljackson/status/1242851235427782656?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 25, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 

NatureCriminal7896

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This was yesterday. Happy 50th Anniversary ABC!

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The Jackson 5&#8217;s second studio album &#8220;ABC&#8221; is 50 years old today! ABC and The Love You Save are some of the most timeless singles in history <a href="https://t.co/QExLweI1gS">pic.twitter.com/QExLweI1gS</a></p>&mdash; &#55349;&#56851;&#55349;&#56886;&#55349;&#56868;&#55349;&#56890; (@kjngofpops) <a href="https://twitter.com/kjngofpops/status/1258839744655564802?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 8, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Continuing to hold our community down and connect with fans, the Motown way. Turn on post notifications and stay tuned for the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MotownABCs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MotownABCs</a>. <br><br>Coming soon &#55357;&#56384; <a href="https://t.co/24r7bSMFxz">pic.twitter.com/24r7bSMFxz</a></p>&mdash; Motown Records (@motown) <a href="https://twitter.com/motown/status/1260269070844227584?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 12, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">35% of the people in the United States who owned TV sets, 47 million people, tuned in to watch the broadcast of Motown 25 when it first aired on May 16, 1983. Were you one of them? <a href="https://t.co/01bh2pruod">pic.twitter.com/01bh2pruod</a></p>&mdash; Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) <a href="https://twitter.com/michaeljackson/status/1261687856184979457?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 16, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 

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NatureCriminal7896;4290434 said:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">35% of the people in the United States who owned TV sets, 47 million people, tuned in to watch the broadcast of Motown 25 when it first aired on May 16, 1983. Were you one of them? <a href="https://t.co/01bh2pruod">pic.twitter.com/01bh2pruod</a></p>&#8212; Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) <a href="https://twitter.com/michaeljackson/status/1261687856184979457?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 16, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I wasn't alive. but my mom and my family were one of those people with tv sets and one of those 47 million that night watching it. talking about being lucky to be alive and saw this. :D
 

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">On this day in 1968, The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Jackson5?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Jackson5</a> visited <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HitsvilleUSA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HitsvilleUSA</a> to audition for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Motown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Motown</a>&#8212;with 9-year-old <a href="https://twitter.com/michaeljackson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@michaeljackson</a> singing &amp; dancing to James Brown&#39;s &#39;I Got the Feelin&#39;. Seeing great potential, Berry Gordy signed the group 3 days later, and the rest is <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/musichistory?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#musichistory</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MotownMuseum?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MotownMuseum</a> <a href="https://t.co/IxwO7GZVub">pic.twitter.com/IxwO7GZVub</a></p>&mdash; Motown Museum (@Motown_Museum) <a href="https://twitter.com/Motown_Museum/status/1286323958753759233?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 23, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">It was Michael&#8217;s first solo #1, won a Golden Globe, and made even more of the world aware of the power of Michael Jackson. &#8220;Ben&#8221; was released on this day in 1972.<br>Photo by Neal Preston <a href="https://t.co/xZ0QC6iqGO">pic.twitter.com/xZ0QC6iqGO</a></p>&mdash; Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) <a href="https://twitter.com/michaeljackson/status/1290682658830217219?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 4, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 

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History was made on January 12, 1959 when Berry Gordy secured that fateful $800 loan from his family&#8217;s savings to start a little record company called Motown Records.

EreW9B6UcAIGmdx
 

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The reason for the Jackson Five's departure to Epic revealed.

NEW YORK - It's now a legend of show business, the story of how five teenagers from Gary, Indiana, became the best-selling band in motown Records history, surpassing giants such as the Temptations and the Supremes, whose singer Diana Ross was the one who brought them to Motown.

In their first year at Motown in 1970, they sold one million singles in one month, and were ranked number one in singles sales of the year by the prestigious music industry magazine, Billboard. In two years, they sold 17 million singles; in five years, this total amounts to nearly 30 million.

The success story of the Jackson Five, like that of Motown, had a special meaning for the Black youth. As Diana Ross herself pointed out, "If Berry Gordy hadn't been looking for talent in the Black community, we wouldn't have been discovered."

The legend continued with personal record sales records, so the Motown and Jackson Five dynasties became increasingly united, notably with Jermaine's marriage to Berry Gordy's daughter, Hazel, in a $200,000 ceremony that had as much private significance as media interest.

But time passes, and even legends change. The repeated rumors became a reality earlier this month, when the Jackson family announced at a news conference in New York that they were leaving Motown for Epic Records, part of the major CBS Inc. broadcasting group, as their contract at Motown expires on March 10.

The question that immediately comes to mind is of course: why? What happened to a relationship that went beyond the professional framework, a relationship that Joe Jackson, father of the group, described as almost paternal, would end?

« They treat boys like their own children,"Jackson said in 1970, referring to Diana Ross and Berry Gordy Jr. "They listen to them with ears and minds wide open, and they discuss everything together."

There is too much to explain, especially regarding the way Motown operates, on a system that has led to the departure of many of its most prominent artists. Many of them cite similar reasons for leaving. The Jacksons are no exception.

Simply put, Motown is focused on selling singles, not selling albums, reflecting a belief in the music world that blacks don't buy albums, but singles. The Jackson Five's sales figures seem to confirm this trend towards singles. In 1970, the Jackson Five had four platinum singles, which means more than 2 million sales per single. Their first three albums, even though they reached the top of the most popular charts, sold only 5.7 million copies, according to published figures.

However, since Motown at the time was not a member of the Recording Industry Association of America, which officially certifies record sales, the figures are never official, and are provided by Motown itself.

Motown's focus on singles, however, could explain this gap. Because of the traditional belief that blacks don't buy albums, black albums have always been made with few resources, and often contain only a handful of singles collected on a record, which discouraged single buyers from buying the album as well, since they already had the singles it contained.

Yet it is the albums that make the most money for an artist. As Jackie Jackson pointed out at the recent press conference, "We want to sell a lot of albums. Motown is a company that sells singles. »

At the press conference, Tito added: "It's the albums that make you really famous. Motown sells a lot of singles, we want to move forward by selling a lot of albums. »

Many artists also write their own works, or at least part of it. When included in an album that sells well, these songs written by the artist himself earn him more money, because he is not only paid as a performer, but he also receives royalties as a songwriter. For the same reasons, many artists begin to perform themselves, so they are paid as performers, songwriters and producers, and as a result they significantly increase their profits.

A former Motown artist, who does pretty well at another label, explains that it doesn't work at Motown. According to him, the interpreters are, for the most part, considered interpreters, and nothing else. If a performer writes a song, he finds himself in the position of sharing the credits for that song with at least one of the members of the "team" of authors, and so he must return some of his royalties as a songwriter through their publishing house. The same thing happens to producers. As a result, many artists are holding back from Motown; they prefer not to leave them their original creations.

As one of the Jacksons pointed out at the New York press conference, "We kept original creations for us for a while because we couldn't express our talent for writing. We join Epic to do a good job with our creations. The band will also produce the songs they write, while CBS will provide producers for non-original creations.

The Jackson Five still have a Motown album, and they won't be able to enter the studio with Epic until their contract with Motown expires next March. But there are still some problems to iron out, especially with regard to the group itself.

First of all, it is not known if Jermaine, married to Hazel Gordy, will follow the Jackson Five to their new label. Although the family expressed confidence at the New York press conference that Jermaine would join them, he has not yet signed his new contract. Obviously, times are difficult for Jermaine and it is a situation that requires time. There are indications, however, that Jermaine could stay with Motown as a solo artist. The reviews of his previous solo performances were, for the most part, quite lukewarm.

There is also the question of the name of the group. Motown, saying the Jackson Five name "belongs to him," threatened to sue CBS if the name is used by Epic. At the press conference, Epic members made sure to refer to the group as the "Jackson family," implying that it could extend to younger brother Randy and his sister Janet.

Similar legal situations have already occurred when other artists left Motown. In at least one case, a famous artist discovered that he could not interpret any of his Motown hits, because they belonged to the Motown publishing house, which like all publishing houses, must allow public performances of his copyrighted works. As a result, the artist in question eventually returned to Motown.

There is also the issue of finance, and so-called external benefits. The Jacksons described Motown's financial proposal as minimal compared to the offer issued by Epic Records. Obviously, even a company like Motown, which brought in nearly $50 million in 1974, can't hope to compete with a giant like CBS, which literally considers that $50 million to be pocket money.

In addition, cbs' various activities — a television channel and a radio station, a record company that sells worldwide, and is considered the world's largest record company with a monstrous budget to promote its records - certainly mean more opportunities to make money for the band through TV shows. , tours, films, etc.

« I tried to push the band to go further with a bigger company, which could be more beneficial for the band,"said Joe Jackson, explaining why he had approached CBS to sign a contract.

It is also rumored that he has spoken to a number of other major record companies, such as RCA, Atlantic and Arista, which under the chairmanship of Clive Davis, former president of Columbia, would like to lure Stevie Wonder into his nets, his Motown contract expiring this year.

Although no figures have been released, sources say the Jackson Five's new deal with Epic is close to $8 million. What we do know is that CBS, which now distributes several black labels, will distribute Joe Jackson's Ivory Tower Records, while letting the band produce its own creations.

« That doesn't mean we're leaving Motown on bad terms,"Jackson said. "As we said, we are moving towards bigger things and better things. Before Motown could do anything, the talent had to be there. If there had been no talent, we would not have joined Motown. We would have ended up somewhere else. »

Joe Jackson on the divorce between the Jackson Five and Motown:"No opportunity has ever been offered to us. »

The band's talent is "stifled," Papa Joe insinuates.

HOLLYWOOD - The Jackson Five's father, Joe Jackson, told SOUL exclusively why the world-famous band left Motown after a six-year relationship. From his Hollywood offices, Jackson gave a myriad of reasons for this exile to Epic Records. "When things don't go in the right direction and you don't like the situation, the next step is to leave,"he said.

« We have been trying for six years to make things right. That is the truth, and instead of things getting better, they have gotten worse. That's why no boys' songs appear on their albums. You've never heard a song written by the boys, or you've never seen them go on stage to get a reward or something like that, because I didn't want them to sign exclusively at Jobete,"he continued. "We didn't ask for much two years ago. They didn't want to. They wanted their writers and producers exclusively, and the boys are artists. I do not want them to be like the other groups. I want them to be able to use all their talent. I want audiences around the world to know that they know how to do something other than just get on stage. »

« Motown didn't give them a chance. But now, very recently, only a few weeks ago, they let Jermaine produce her own album and do everything. And if they had let them do it before, SOUL asked. "Then there would have been no problem,"Jackson replied.

When SOUL asked if Jermaine would follow the band and stay at Motown, he replied: "Jermaine signed with Motown, as I understand it. I have not seen his contract. I asked him to let me see his contract before signing it, but he didn't let me see anything. But I think it may happen later, he could come and join us. I'm sorry that Jermaine can't be part of the adventure. Jermaine will be able to join us in the future if he wishes. »

When SOUL asked Joe if he had spoken to Motown boss Berry Gordy about the new contract, Joe said, "Berry sent Abner to lead the negotiations. Berry never intervened, he never tried to reach me to talk to me. I asked several times to talk to him. When I go to see other companies I don't have this problem. Presidents are very friendly people, they talk to you and that's how you can get along. I was never able to reach Berry to do that. I really wanted to work with them but they didn't give us a chance. I can't handle these egos. »

SOUL asked him about the five-year contract with Epic, but Jackson was reluctant to talk about the amount. "All I can tell you is that this agreement is between $1 million and $20 million. I am very happy with this agreement which will open many doors on many things. »

When SOUL asked if they would be able to use the jackson Five name, Jackson said, "That's what we're fighting for right now. They don't have that name. They say it is, but it is not. The only thing they have is the Jackson Five logo. We don't want that logo. We'll do ours, but Jackson is our last name. »

« Today Jesse Jackson is at CBS looking for problems. We've done a lot for Jesse Jackson, not Motown. »

« I hope black people realize that the Jacksons don't leave Motown for nothing. There are several reasons and I hope that no one is trying to play with the notion of Black. We left because we didn't get what we wanted at Motown, and we were able to get it elsewhere. »

The Motown programmer says Jermaine will stay.

LAS VEGAS - Motown Records President Ewart Abner has insinuated that the Jackson Five were unsym loyalty during negotiations for a new contract.

Reached by phone in Las Vegas, where he arrived to watch the Jackson Five perform at the MGM Grand Hotel, Abner told SOUL: "There has never been a renegotiation. There was an arrangement that said that they were free to leave and make an offer, that Motown reserved the right to line up. If they had, they would have stayed at Motown. Unfortunately, that did not happen. This was our arrangement from the beginning, in which I had played a role. They could consider that they had gone around that market. I was aware of the rumours that they were in discussions with other record companies. Arista, Atlantic and Columbia were among them. I didn't mind because from what I understood from Joe, no matter what kind of offer we made to them, we just had to line up so that they would stay at what we called home. Something must have happened in the meantime, but we should ask Joe. Even though they went shopping elsewhere, they never gave us the opportunity to align ourselves with this offer. »

SOUL asked if the reason the Jackson Five left was that Motown was focused on singles, and that it was not an album selling company. "That's their opinion,"Abner said. "Someone must have talked to them, but that's not the reality at all. There was a time when we were known to be the biggest sellers of singles. We had three or four singles in the Top 10 every week but that was a few years ago. Since that time, we have had to do like other record companies and develop a marketing plan for albums. We had to focus and build sales capacity to enter the market and increase album sales. The Temptations have gone gold and will probably be platinum with their album. Grover Washington Jr. received a gold record. The Jackson Five album is currently at the top, as are the Kendricks. So it's fiction,"Abner continued. "I try to be a little sensitive because we are friends with family. And whatever the agreement with Epic Records, it will not begin until April 1976. So we still have a relationship of several months ahead of us. »

When asked about Jermaine, Abner said, "Jermaine chose to stay at Motown. He decided it was better for him and for the development of his career. Jermaine is a very strong and very moral person, he is very close to Berry. Of course, there's also the obvious fact that he's married to Berry's daughter. I do not know how long it will remain, because this issue is quite personal. Maybe one day Jermaine will tell you, if he wishes,"Abner replied when asked how long Jermaine's new contract would last.

SOUL asked Abner about the album, which is still due to Motown, and which was mentioned in a press conference. "No, I don't know where it came from. There are no number of products to be released between today and March. »

SOUL, in conclusion, asked whether it was unusual for one group to sign with another company while still under contract. "It's something that's evolved in the last few years, and sometimes a company signs with a group that is at the end of a contract." Abner added: "Some companies are now challenging it. I do not know if there have been enough cases or laws on this, I am not a lawyer, so I will not venture to give an opinion. This is not the first time this has happened in recent years. This has already happened in other companies. »

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Lamont Dozier & Duke Fakir interview with Professor of Rock (September 2021)
 

zinniabooklover

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The Commodores

The Commodores

The story of the Commodores began in 1967, when Lionel Richie met Thomas McClary in the registration line at The Tuskegee Institute. Richie played sax, McClary was a guitarist and together they formed The Mystics, a group that also included William King on trumpet. Their worst rivals were The Jays, another school-band, from where keyboardist Milan Williams was drafted when The Jays disbanded. A new name for the group was needed and during a rehearsal, William King was blindfolded and selected the word "commodore" at random from a dictionary.


The Commodores now comprised seven members: Lionel Richie (sax), Thomas McClary (guitar), William King (trumpet), Milan Williams (who died in July 2006) (keyboards), Jimmy Johnson (sax), Michael Gilbert (bass & lead vocals) and Andre Callaghan (drums). As the Commodores' reputation spread around their home town and nearby Montgomery, The Tuskegee Institute sent them to perform at a benefit talent-show in New York. There, they were spotted by Benjamin "Benny" Ashburn, a Harlem-native with a background in public relations. Ashburn, who at the time worked as a representative for a liquor wholesaler, was a shrewd businessman. He didn't make any offers, but let the Tuskegee boys know that he saw a great potential in them. About a year later, The Commodes returned to New York. After struggling hard while trying to make it on their own, they turned to Ashburn for guidance and he took them under his wings. The Commodores signed a management contract with Ashburn and he booked them on every club and showcase he could. Ashburn became the Commodores' mentor, manager and friend and was to play an integral part in the great future that awaited the group.

Benny Ashburn arranged an audition for Atlantic Records in 1969 and there, the Commodores recorded an album's worth of material from which Atlantic released the Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams-produced single "Keep On Dancing". It's an irresistible, catchy song and had been a huge R&B hit for Alvin Cash the previous year. The "Swamp Dogg" Williams-penned B-side, "Rise Up", sounds very similar to The Bar-Kays' "Soul Finger". The tapes from those early sessions have re-surfaced -at least in Europe- and are available on CD from various small labels. It mainly consists of cover versions, such as Sly & The Family Stone's "Sing A Simple Song", Intruders' "Cowboys To Girls", Temptations' "I Know I'm Losing You" and Johnnie Taylor's "Who's Making Love".

Later that year, Jimmy Johnson, Michael Gilbert and Andre Callaghan left the Commodores (two were drafted for the Vietnam war, the third left because he didn't think the group could make it). The trio was replaced by bassist Ronald La Pread from Tuskegee blues outfit The Corvettes and Walter "Clyde" Orange who had his own band, The J-Notes. Orange both played drums and sang lead, a duty he continued in the Commodores. Lionel Richie was too shy and was more than happy to just blow his sax and sing back-up.

At show at an attorney's convention, set up by Ashburn, the Commodores made such an impression on Motown executive Suzanne DePasse that she hired the Commodores to be the warm-up band for The Jackson Five on a world wide tour. That tour eventually lasted nearly three years and gave the Commodores stage experience, or rather arena experience. But what they really wanted was a record contract and in 1972, the Commodores were signed to MoWest, Motown's new subsidiary, started after the labels' move from Detroit to Los Angeles. Little did Motown know that they'd just got their hands on what would be one of their biggest act of the Seventies.

The Commodores naturally wanted to be self-contained, write and produce their own material, but Motown's policy for all newcomers was to set them to work with company staff. The Commodores weren't exactly considered a priority and were therefor tossed around between Hal Davis, Willie Hutch, Norman Whitfield and Jeffrey Bowen. In addition, the new arrivals discovered that it was hard to get studio time, as the recording facilities were constantly occupied by Motown's big names, like The Four Tops, Jackson Five, The Supremes or Gladys Knight. But this was a period of change for Motown and soon several of the label's key artists departed. The Commodores were handed to Pam Sawyer and Gloria Jones who wrote and produced their debut single on MoWest "The Zoo (The Human Zoo)", released in March 1972. It failed to chart and so did their second MoWest single, "Don't You Be Worried" (backed with the funky "Determination", produced by Willie Hutch). The Commodores' first single on the "real" Motown label was "Are You Happy". It was also the first song where Lionel Richie handled the lead vocals all by himself. The record passed unnoticed, but Milan Williams' frenetic, synthesizer-laden instrumental "Machine Gun", issued in April 1974, became a huge hit, landing at #7 R&B and #22 Pop, even charting at #20 in the U.K. That particular track was produced by James Anthony Carmichael, who from this point on became the Commodores' permanent producer. Carmichael worked with the Commodores on every album that followed, until he chose to go with Lionel Richie, when he opted for a solo career in 1982. The Commodores' debut album, also entitled "Machine Gun", went into the top one hundred and sold gold in Japan and the Philippines, countries where the Tuskegee group had toured with The Jackson Five.

The second single to chart from "Machine Gun" was a typical, bottom-heavy, Jeffrey Bowen production called "I Feel Sanctified" (from which Bowen borrowed a substantial part for The Temptations' "Happy People"). It reached #12 on the U.S. R&B chart in October 1974. The Commodores then spent the next two years touring the United States and opened for The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder. In April 1975, they released their first number one R&B hit "Slippery When Wet", taken from their sophomore album, "Caught In The Act". The Commodores were by now rightfully established as one of the funkiest bands in the land, but felt that in order to reach a bigger and more diverse audience, they'd have to try something new. And their next effort was indeed very different from its funky predecessors. For the first time, a Lionel Richie penned ballad was chosen as the single. "This Is Your Life" (August, 1975) climbed to R&B #13, but it was with Lionel's "Sweet Love" (from "Movin' On" 1975), that the Commodores found their winning formula. The single shot to R&B #2 and Pop #5 and the mellow follow-up "Just To Be Close To You", taken from the Commodore's first platinum-seller "Hot On The Tracks (1976), repeated the success. For the second single from that LP, the Commodores returned to the funk and it's obvious that The Ohio Players served as the inspiration for Richie and Ronald LaPread when they wrote "Fancy Dancer".

That same year, 1976, the Commodores supported the O'Jays on a huge, 42-city American tour. It's been said that the Alabama youngsters virtually stole the show and from here, the Commodores no longer were a warm-up band, but the headline act. In 1977, they headlined their own American tour, giving 85 concerts in some 72 cities and embarked on their first, own world tour. It coincided with the March-release of their "Commodores" LP (re-named "Zoom" in the U.K.). The concerts were allegedly highly spectacular, with lots of audience participation, smoke and cannon-fired confetti. Sadly, the tour was cut short, due to the tragic death of bassist Ronald LaPread's wife Kathy, who succumbed to cancer in 1977.

Every band member contributed to the albums, but Lionel Richie, who by now was the group's primary lead vocalist, was responsible for writing the majority of the singles. However, the Commodores returned to their funky roots after Lionel's country-flavored ballad and mega-hit "Easy". On "Brick House", Walter "Clyde" Orange, who had handled both the skins and the lead vocals during the group's beginnings, did his thang. "Brick House" came out in August, 1977 and got to R&B #4 and Pop #5. "Clyde" was also the lead vocalist on the uptempo stomper "Too Hot Ta Trot", (R&B #1, Pop #24 1977). That track was later edited and included on the soundtrack to the 1978 disco-movie "Thank God It's Friday", where the Commodores co-starred with Donna Summer.

The full studio version of "Too Hot Ta Trot" was issued on "Commodores Live", recorded during the massive 1977 U.S. coast-to coast tour. This double album, issued in October 1977, is arguably one of the finest live albums ever made and has left a powerful testament to the Commodores' unique showmanship.

May 1978 saw the release of the Commodores' fifth album, "Natural High", which sold platinum and spawned their largest cross-over hit. "Three Times A Lady", written by Lionel Richie, rose to #1 on both the R&B and Pop charts in June 1978 and became Motown's biggest single ever. "Flying High", (R&B #21, Pop #38) released in August 1978, was the second single from "Natural High". It was followed by a "Greatest Hits" LP.

In 1979, "Three Times A Lady" gave the Commodores several international awards, plus the Peoples Choice Award for "Best Song" and the American Music Awards for "Most Popular Single". That same year, the Commodores released the "Midnight Magic" album, which did extremely well in Britain. The hit singles, emanating from Lionel Richie's pen, continued with the 1979 singles "Sail On" (R&B # 8, Pop #4) and "Still", which simultaneously topped both the R&B and Pop charts in the U.S.. Milan Williams wrote the third single "Wonderland" (R&B #21, Pop #25). Also in 1979, bassist Ronald LaPread (together with Harold Hudson from the Commodores' back-up band The Mean Machine) produced, wrote and arranged the entire side B of fellow Tuskegee, Alabama-based 7th Wonder's "Climbing Higher" album. It was time to cross the Atlantic again. The Commodores performed at the Saarbrücken Festival in Germany, which was the starting-shot for their second European tour. They were greeted with open arms and sold out houses virtually everywhere they went.

In 1980, the Commodores were voted "Favorite Soul Group" at the American Music Awards and won the Peoples Choice Award for "Best Song" with "Still". Surprisingly enough, the highly spiritual "Heroes", the Commodores' tenth LP, released the same year, was a poor seller in the U.K., at least compared to their previous albums, but went platinum in the United States. The singles "Old-Fashion Love" (R&B #8, Pop #20) and the title track "Heroes" (R&B #27, Pop #54) were obviously hits, but not big enough to end the malicious media speculations about the Commodores' heydays being over. The third single "Jesus Is Love" only made it to a disappointing R&B #34.

By now, Lionel Richie was of course a much sought-after songwriter, but had resisted all outside requests until Kenny Rogers approached him. Richie wrote "Lady" for the country star, which became a top ten hit, sold sixteen million copies and earned Richie several prestigious awards. It's been suggested that the other members of the Commodores weren't too happy about the situation, since the song had originally been written for them and they desperately needed a hit. Rumors that Lionel Richie was leaving the group were naturally fueled by all of this, but in every interview, Richie was persistently denying having any such plans.

In 1981, while working on what would become the Commodores' third U.S. platinum seller; "In The Pocket", Richie wrote, produced and duetted with Diana Ross on "Endless Love", the Academy nominated theme song from the movie of the same name (which, hardly to anyone's surprise, also went platinum). Once again, rumors of Richie departing the Commodores spread like wild fire. Officially Lionel said he wasn't, but behind the scenes he was growing increasingly tired of not having free hands to record and write outside of the group. Three singles were issued from "In The Pocket": "Lady You Bring Me Up" (R&B #5, Pop #8), "Oh, No" (R&B #5, Pop #4) and "Why You Wanna Try Me" (R&B # 42, Pop #66). 1981 was also the year that Lionel Richie became the first artist in American history to simultaneously appear in the top ten as a composer, performer and/or producer of three different records: "Endless Love", Kenny Rogers' "I Don't Need You (which Lionel produced) and the Commodores' "Lady, You Bring Me Up".

In 1982, although officially still a member of the Commodores, Lionel released his debut single as a solo artist. "Truly", which was produced by James Anthony Carmichael. It sky-rocketed to the top of the U.S. charts, presented Lionel with his first Grammy for "Best Pop Male Vocal Performance" and an array of other awards. The eponymous LP sold some four million copies and became Motown's third biggest selling album.

@filmandmusic

You mentioned The Commodores the other day and I meant to say, can't help you with that bc I never liked them. Don't like Lionel Richie's voice. Don't like the songs much, either, but mostly it's his voice. Have just found this essay by @DuranDuran. There's gotta be stuff in here that's interesting to you so thought I'd bump it.
 

zinniabooklover

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The Commodores (part 2)

The Commodores (continued)

On August 17, 1982, the Commodores' long-time manager and dear friend Benjamin Ashburn died from a heart attack. Shortly thereafter, Lionel publicly announced his departure from the Commodores. This was naturally a terrible blow to the group, but they decided to continue, realizing it was what Benny - who had been the first to believe in the Commodores- would have wished.

Lionel Richie followed up the success of "Truly" with "You Are" which shot to R&B #2 and Pop #4. A third single, "My Love", reached R&B #6 and Pop #5 in April 1983. Lionel was on his way to super-stardom. Meanwhile, the Commodores released "All The Great Hits", which in addition to the familiar classics contained two new tracks. The lead vocals on the first Richie-less single "Painted Picture", were handled by co-writer Harold Hudson, who was a member of The Mean Machine, the Commodores' back-up horn and keyboard section on live performances. "Painted Picture" was issued in late 1982 and made it to #19 on the American R&B charts. The follow-up "Reach High" came out in January 1983 and there's a little mystery attached to it. According to A. Scott Galloway's liner notes to the double-CD set "The Best of the Commodores" (Motown, 1995) "Reach High" was sung by Kevin Smith, who hailed from Montgomery, Alabama and had been chosen to replace Lionel Richie during an audition held in Atlanta. However, Jeffrey Singleton, a vocalist and songwriter from Montgomery, Alabama, sent an intriguing E-Mail to this author in July '97, where he explained that he in fact sang on "Reach High", not Kevin Smith. Jeffrey, who co-penned the Reddings last hit "Call The Law", shared that both he and Smith were auditioned at Web 4 Studios in Atlanta to compete for the part and recalls learning the song "in the parking lot in Clyde's Winnebago, right before I had to audition". Whereas Kevin Smith (who came from Los Angeles, not Alabama) was a seasoned pro that had sung in the Broadway musical "Dreamgirls", Jeffrey had at the time not done "anything bigger than nightclubs around Alabama". Not only does Jeffrey claim to be the lead singer on "Reach High", he also says he was given a contract to replace Richie, but for various reasons, this would be his only recording with the group. Surprisingly, the funky and bubbly single (which happens to be one of my favorite post-Richie recordings) didn't chart, but was used as the theme song to the short-lived NBC sitcom "Teachers Only", starring Tim Reid and Lynn Redgrave.

"13" landed on the shelves in late September, 1983. The album were, like the two previous singles, produced by the Commodores themselves, as James Anthony Carmichael now worked with Lionel Richie.

Lionel Richie's sophomore album "Can't Slow Down" was issued in October 1983. The single "All Night Long (All Night)" not only shot to the top of the U.S. charts, but held that position in eighteen countries, except in Britain where it landed at #2. Further singles pulled from "Can't Slow Down": "Running With The Night", "Hello", "Stuck On You" and "Penny Lover" were all top ten international hits. "Hello" sold a staggering eight hundred thousand copies in the U.K. and the album sold well over four million copies within the first ten weeks of release. The total sum was 15 million units worldwide! It is the biggest album in Motown' s history. Lionel now embarked on his fist solo tour, with the Pointer Sisters as his support. In November 1983, the plane that Lionel and his entourage traveled in, nearly crashed in Arizona. The party was heading for a concert in Tucson, when the plane's wheels collapsed. The first media reports suggested that Lionel had died in the crash. His reply was "I'm ten times more famous since being assumed dead".
In 1984, Lionel wrote "Missing You" for Diana Ross which was a tribute to the late Marvin Gaye. The record was an American number one R&B and top ten pop hit. On the 12th of August, Lionel performed the Olympics in Los Angeles, an event watched by some 2.6 billion people.

In the Commodores' camp, further personnel changes were taking place. In August 1984, guitarist McClary followed Lionel Richie's example and opted for a solo career. McClary recorded a self-titled album on Motown, from where the singles "Thin Walls" and "Man In The Middle" were drawn. (Lionel Richie sang background vocals on the first-mentioned, which also was the only single to chart). J.D. (James Dean) Nicholas, who replaced Johnny Wilder in Heatwave, met the Commodores during a taping of the American TV show "Soul Train". Nicholas came on board on what looked like a sinking ship, but in late 1985, the Commodores proved beyond a doubt that they still had what it takes to write a hit record. "Nightshift" was produced by Dennis Lambert (the man responsible for ex-Temp's Dennis Edwards' smash "Don't Look Any Further") and was to be the final Commodores' LP to sell gold in the United States (at least to date). The microphone was shared on the title track by Orange and Nicholas and the single raced to number one R&B and three on the Pop charts. Just as the group collected their first and only Grammy award for "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group", they announced their departure from Motown and signed with PolyGram.

In 1985, Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson wrote "We Are The World" for the USA for Africa project, where 46 major artists united to help the suffering people of Africa and The United States. The single was a number one hit and sold more than two million copies. On July 13, Lionel performed the track at the Live Aid gala. The theme song from the "White Nights" movie, "Say You Say Me" was Lionel's first own single that year. Released in October, it became his ninth, consecutive, self-penned number one hit (beating The Rolling Stones by one, a group that has been making records approximately twice as long as Lionel). This is an achievement only matched by Irving Berling. Lionel won a host of honors, including a Grammy for "Album Of The Year" and "Award Producer Of The Year", plus six American Music Awards, ASCAP "writer of The Year", ASCAP "Publisher Of The Year", The Golden Globe Award "Best Song" and The Tuskegee Institute Honorary Doctor of Music Degree. He was also Academy nominated for "Miss Celie's Blues (Sister)", which Lionel co-wrote with Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton for Steven Spielberg's movie "The Color Purple".

In June 1986, Lionel delivered his long overdue "Dancing On the Ceiling" single and album."Love Will Conquer All" was the second, chart topping single. After "Ballerina Girl", issued in November, Lionel embarked upon a Pepsi Cola-sponsored American tour. His support was Sheila E and the show was titled "Lionel Richie's Outrageous Tour". The staging was highly spectacular, with ten feet high modular hydraulic units that moved around during the performance. Add some twenty tons of equipment: one hundred and fifty computerized swiveling lights, six hundred stationery lights and to top it off, a motorized piano.

The humorous "Goin' To The Bank"¨ was the Commodores' first effort on PolyGram. It did much better than the last Motown singles and landed comfortably at number two on R&B charts in September 1986. Once again, the Commodores headed for Europe to back up the single and the subsequent album, entitled "United". The LP was an, at least temporary, reunion with James Anthony Carmichael, who co-produced "Talk To Me" with William King and "I Wanna Rock You" with Milan Williams. The follow-up single "Take It From Me" struggled to R&B #38 in January 1987. The group was dissatisfied with the way PolyGram handled them and blamed the wavering sales on poor interest in marketing on the labels' account.

After "Dancing On The Ceiling", Lionel didn't record a new album until "Back To Front", a "greatest hits" CD with three new tracks, which was released in 1992. The single "Do It To Me" was a #1 R&B hit (#21 Pop) in the States. The follow-up "My Destiny" charted at R&B #56, but never entered the Pop charts. In the U.K., the situation was reversed, as "Do It To Me" landed at a modest #33, whereas "My Destiny" was a top ten hit. "Back To Front" sold 9 million copies worldwide and platinum in the U.S. A third single, "Love, Oh Love", was released in November, 1992 and made it to #52 in Britain. For some reason, none of the new songs that had been recorded for the set were produced by Richie's brother-in-arms James Anthony Carmichael, but by Stewart Levine, who had previously worked with Womack & Womack, among others. "Back To Front" was to be the last album Lionel recorded for Motown.

The death of his father, a divorce and the loss of a friend to AIDS, brought on a four year period of silence, but in 1996 Lionel re-surfaced with "Louder Than Words" on Mercury Records. The majority of the album was produced by Lionel and James Anthony Carmichael. Lionel also worked with Jam & Lewis (on three tracks) and with David Foster. The first single was the Jam & Lewis collaboration "Don't Wanna Lose You". A meeting between two great writers took place when Babyface and Lionel teamed up and wrote the second single "Ordinary Girl". A third and final single, the Carmichael-produced "Still In Love", was issued in late October 1996. March 1998 saw the release of a greatest hits set on Motown entitled "Truly-The Love Songs". In the summer of 1998, Lionel released a new album entitled "Time".

After the Commodores' debut on PolyGram "United", released in 1986, Ronald LaPread found a new wife and moved to Auckland, New Zealand. Now down to four members, the Commodores went back to Europe to tour in 1988 and PolyGram released "Grrrip", a single lifted from the "Rock Solid"album. A British company used "Easy" in a commercial, which temporarily boosted the public's interest in the Commodores. Regrettably, the acclaim was short-lived.

Rumors of a reunion of the original Commodores began floating in 2008, fueled by statements made by Richie. Despite a number of false reports (some apparently started by former group members) the reunion has not happened.

Here's Part 2 of DuranDuran's essay.
 

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The Temptations / I'm Gonna Make You Love Me

Live, Eddie Kendricks on lead.
 
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