This week’s episode of “American Idol” could not be anymore American than with the music from Hitsville USA and Motown Records, 2648 West Grand Blvd in Detroit! On Thursday evening, after the audience vote, the Judges decided to use their one and only wild card to save Casey Abrams. Is it just me, or do you agree with Mary and me that this year the talent is stronger and the whole look and feel of the show is more professional and polished? One of the featured guests on this weeks’ show was Bob Babbitt, Bass player and one of the ”Funk Brothers” studio musicians with Motown records…
In January of 1959 Motown founder, Berry Gordy, purchased a modest home that had served as a photography studio and took his $ 800.00 business investment into music history. The famous “Studio A” was located in the basement along with the control room. The company offices where on the main floor and Berry Gordy lived upstairs in the early years. From that modest facility came some of the greatest music of all time…”American made & American played!”
The actual studio was a cramped, smoke stained, dimly lit room affectionately dubbed “The Snake Pit.” Recording sessions were going day and night except from 8 AM to 10 AM for maintenance to the recording equipment. The “Funk Brothers” (studio musicians) were a house band and not members of any union, so they were on call 24 hours a day. Each member was paid $ 10.00 to $20.00 per song, regardless of how many “takes” it took to record the final version. During breaks and between sessions, the guys would often walk to Millie’s Chit Chat Lounge and Jam some more. The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Marvelettes, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and many others created a sound and feel that rocked the world.
Motown (adapted from MOtor City) is one of the few styles of music where you can actually dance while sitting down at work or in your car. I challenge anyone, young or old, to listen to a Motown song and not tap your foot or snap your fingers! Everyone of the contestants on “Idol” mentioned that they “grew up” listening to Motown music on the radio. It was a magical period in American Music and those songs, like so many others, remain “timeless!” It would seem that the producers of “American Idol” agree with that point as well as all of the KOOL listeners like you! Thanks for listening!