Michigan State University

January 12, 1959 : Berry Gordy Jr. Founds Motown

Jon Harrison
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Control Panel from Motown Recording Studios, courtesy of the Oxford University Press Blog

On this day, Berry Gordy Jr. founded Motown Records (originally Tamla Records) in Detroit.

Perhaps no other record label in America’s music history performed a more significant role in fashioning Rhythm and Blues’ assimilation into the country’s popular culture than Motown Records. Founded by Detroit songwriter Berry Gordy, Jr. in 1959, Motown (originally named Tamla Records) began producing hit records almost from its inception and continued to do so throughout the sixties. During this period, Motown and its subsidiary labels recorded 110 top 10 hit songs and became the standard bearer for black music.

For more information, consult the book Michigan Every Day.

Larvester Gaither, Women’s contributions to the making of Motown: The Duets, Oxford University Press Blog, January 13, 2015.

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