In 1959, Billy Davis and Berry Gordy's sisters Gwen and Anna started Anna
Records. Davis and Gwen Gordy wanted Berry to be the company president, but Berry wanted to strike out on his
own. On January 12, 1959, he started Tamla Records, with an $800 loan from his family. Gordy originally wanted
to name the label "Tammy" Records, after the popular song by Debbie Reynolds. When he found the name was
already in use, he decided on Tamla instead. Tamla's first release was Marv Johnson's "Come to Me" in 1959.
Its first hit was Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)" (1959), which made it to #2 on the Billboard
Also in 1959 Barry Gordy purchased the property that would become Motown's Hitsville U.S.A.
studio. The photography studio located in the back of the property was modified into a small recording studio and
the Gordys moved into the second floor living quarters. Within a few years, Motown would occupy several neighboring
houses with administrative offices, mixing, mastering and rehearsal studios.
Gordy founded a second label, Motown Records, in September 1960. Among early Tamla/Motown
artists were Mable John, Eddie Holland and Mary Wells. "Shop Around" was The Miracles' first #1 R&B hit was
peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. It was Tamla's first million-selling record. On April 14,
1960, Motown and Tamla Records merged into a new company called Motown Record Corporation. A year later, The
Marvelettes scored Tamla's first US #1 pop hit, "Please Mr. Postman". By the mid-1960s, the label, with the help of
songwriters and producers such as Robinson, A&R chief William "Mickey" Stevenson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier,
and Norman Whitfield, was a major force in the music industry.
Motown produced some of the best music ever recorded in musical history. I have selected
but a few songs from an era of great music. Enjoy these gems for your listening pleasure.