“The place was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because Berry Gordy realized, you can’t put a time clock on creativity,” explained our tour guide at “Hitsville U.S.A.” which is the nickname given to Motown’s first headquarters. A former photographers’ studio located at 2648 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan approaching the New Center area, it was purchased by Motown founder Berry Gordy in 1959.
As an irresistible force of social and cultural change, Berry Gordy’s legendary Motown made its mark not just on the music industry, but society at large, with a sound that has become one of the most significant musical accomplishments and stunning success stories of the 20th century.
Diana Ross & the Supremes, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson & the Jackson 5, the Marvelettes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Lionel Richie & the Commodores, Teena Marie, their music communicated and brought together a racially divided country and segregated society, around the world, touching all people of all ages and races.
Motown, of course, stands for more than just the historic music. The label and its remarkable legacy is a reflection of the hard work of dedicated individuals overcoming incredible obstacles to achieve great success. Over a half-century ago, on January 12, 1959, to be exact, a young African-American songwriter named Berry Gordy founded his company with a loan of $800 from his family, marking the birth of the “Motown Records Corporation.” Because Detroit had long been known as the “Motor City,” Gordy, in tribute to what he felt was the down-home quality of the warm, soulful people he grew up around, used “town” in place of “city,” which gave him the contraction “Motor Town” and the perfect name for his company and new label—Motown.
Tours cost a mere $12 and are guided. In our case, we had a passionate and talented female guide who lead us in Motown sing-a-longs. Standing in the recording studio where some of humanity’s finest musical contributions were created was nothing short of amazing and reinforces why so many people consider Hitsville, USA the music Mecca.