Smokey Robinson formed the Miracles at Northern High School in Detroit in 1955. In 1959, Berry Gordy founded Tamla Records (later Motown) and signed The Miracles as one of his first acts. By 1961, Smokey Robinson would be appointed vice-president of the corporation. Smokey Robinson left the Miracles for a solo career in 1972.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Stevie Wonder was born Steveland Morris in 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan. Blind since birth, he was signed by Motown in 1960 where he did back up work. His first single, Fingertips - Pt. 2 went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. He had 9 other #1 singles in the following years.
Marvin Gaye was born in Washington, D.C., in 1939. After moving to Detroit in 1960 he worked as a session drummer for Motown. In 1964 he married Motown founder Berry Gordy's sister Anna Gordy, who was 18 years older than Gaye. Marvin Gaye released his first single for Motown in 1962 and had many hits over the next 15 years, including several duets with Tammi Terrell. Marvin Gaye was fatally shot by his father after a quarrel in Los Angeles in 1984.
Tammi Terrell was born Tammy Montgomery in Philadelphia in 1945. She signed with Motown in April 1965 and enjoyed modest success as a solo singer. Once she was paired with Marvin Gaye in 1967, her stardom grew, but on October 14 of that year she collapsed on stage into Gaye's arms during a performance. She was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor which eventually led to her death six weeks before her 25th birthday in 1970. Her duets with Marvin Gaye include Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Your Precious Love, If I Could Build My Whole World Around You, Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, and You're All I Need to Get By.
Gladys Knight and the Pips formed in Atlanta in 1952 when Gladys was just 8 years old. After several minor hits in the early 60s, the group signed with Motown in 1967 and had several hits including I Heard it Through the Grapevine, The End of Our Road, The Nitty Gritty, Friendship Train, If I Was Your Woman, I Don't Want to Do Wrong, and Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye. The original group consisted of Gladys Knight, her sister Brenda, her brother Bubba, and cousins William and Eleanor Guest. Edward Patten, another cousin, joined the group in 1959. By 1967, Brenda and Eleanor had left the group.
Jr. Walker & The All-Stars formed in South Bend, Indiana, and became one of the early members of the Motown Family in 1961. Band members were Jr. Walker (born Autry DeWalt II), Willie Woods, Vic Thomas, and James Graves. Their Motown hits include Shotgun, (I'm a) Road Runner, Pucker Up Buttercup, What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) and Gotta Hold on to This Feeling. Jr. Walker died of cancer in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1995 at the age of 64.