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Motown celebrates its 50th Birthday today (Jan 12)

Iconic label was started in 1959 with an $800 dollar loan

One of the world’s most important and iconic record labels, Motown, celebrates its 50th birthday today (January 12).

The Detroit label – home to Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and The Jackson 5, among many others – was founded by record producer Berry Gordy on January 12, 1959.

Gordy started the label, which was originally called Tamla, with an $800 loan from his family.

The first act signed was called The Matadors (later The Miracles), who’s lead vocalist was Smokey Robinson.

Motown’s Hitsville USA studio, a garage that Gordy purchased and renovated, was famed for its ‘production line’ recording process – with classic songs being churned out on an astonishingly regular basis.

Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’, The Marvelettes ‘Please Mr Postman’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ were just some of the label’s most notable hits.

Motown also released Martin Luther King’s civil rights speeches on its Black Forum subsidiary label.

The label found enduring success across the world, and Motown songs continue to be covered and referenced by artists today.

Acts as diverse as George Michael, The Beatles, The Jam, The Beach Boys, The Slits and Delroy Wilson have recorded Motown covers.