A Detroit Gem
I finally took my family to see the Motown Museum on W. Grand Boulevard. I must say I was very impressed. Now that I have experienced it I feel guilt for not having seen it sooner. Considering people come from other countries to see this Detroit landmark I would equate it to living by the ocean and never getting my toes wet. My preconceived notion that it was a small house where they recorded Motown’s sound. I thought I would just see the studio and a few photos. I was wrong.
Upon entering the museum we were greeted by 3 very friendly and gracious hosts. They told us a tour was starting upstairs, hurry up the elevator. What? Elevator? Already, I thought to myself, this is a real museum. Our tour guide was Eric, an extremely charismatic black gentleman who obviously loved Motown and life itself. We instantly loved him. This wasn’t a wasted Saturday doing mundane weekend thingys.
If you haven’t visited the museum, I don’t want this to be a spoiler. If your thinking of visiting don’t read beyond this point because the element of surprise and delight is great.
The first thing you will learn is Berry Gordy is a genius entrepreneur equivalent to Steve Jobs. He is #7 of 8 children breed in a middle-class household. His parents owned multiple businesses (groceries, pharmacies etc) the majority of which ironically were positioned were the current African American Museum is on Warren. He served in the military in the Korean war and had a strong boxing career (fought lightweight and won the same night as Joe Louis). He wrote some tunes and hooked up with Jackie Wilson which sparked his interest in music. He started his first record label (Tamla) from an $800 loan form his parents which would be paid off at 6% interest within a year. Who knew he would be 12 million richer in a few years? A lot more interesting facts exist about this man. Everything exploded from there. You have to visit the museum to find out!
Some interesting things about the museum:
- The echo chamber (attic) and the Motown sound
- The Funk Brothers
- Smokey Robinson used to cut the grass every Wednesday
- Michael Jackson donated his glove/fadora and a large sum of money in 1988
- Berry Gordy had 13 record labels (diversified for success)
- Leaf through the secretaries calendar and see what dates artists were in studio (Jackson 5 and others)
- The abrasion on the wood floor from the producer stamping and sliding to favorable Motown sound
- Stevie Wonder’s candy machine (count 4 knobs from the right for a Baby Ruth)
Visit and support the Motown Museum