Hy-Notes: Motown – Money, Music, Sex, and Power

5 of the Coolest Things I Learned:

  1. Barry Gordy wrote the song “To Be Loved” on the day he was served divorce papers.
  2. The name “Tamla” was inspired by the Debbie Reynolds song “Tammy,” but it was already copyrighted.
  3. When The Beatles wanted to cut three Motown songs, he called and asked Barry Gordy for permission, but at a slightly lower royalty rate. Gordy accepted at the last minute only to discover With The Beatles was already in shops.
  4. “Do You Love Me?” was almost released with Barry Gordy as the artist.
  5. Marvin Gaye once tried out for the Detroit Lions.


With an upcoming pilgrimage to Detroit and Hitsville on my horizon, I wanted to read a comprehensive history of Motown. Even though this is the only text I’ve read on the subject, I have a hard time believing any other book could be as absolute as Posner’s. It is thorough and informative without managing to compromise the high entertainment value inherent in the story. His delivery is steady throughout the different facets of Motown’s history – whether that’s the questionable ethics in Motown’s business practices, the various affairs and drug scandals, or the time spent making the music. It’s a page-turning thrill ride of a read.

Rating: 5/5


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