Motown 1966, Hittsville, USA – Gary

Some significant artists and songs for this year of Motown…

The Isley Brothers

Isley Brothers personnel

O’Kelly Isley, Jr. (1957-1986): background vocals, until his death

Rudolph Isley (1957-1989): background vocals

Ronald Isley (1957-1989; 1991-present1): lead and background vocals

Ernie Isley (1973-19842; 1991-present): guitars, drums, percussion and background vocals

Marvin Isley (1973-19842; 1991-1997): bass and background vocals

Chris Jasper (1973-19842): piano, clavinet, synthesizers, keyboards and background vocals

The Isleys began as a quartet, but the youngest brother, Vernon, was killed in an auto crash. Three other brothers – Ernest, who arranges their material, Marvin who plays bass, and Chris, who plays piano, rounded out the family act.

The brothers recorded several songs; when RCA producers, Hugo & Lugi, signed the group they racked up “Shout” in 59 and “Twist and Shout” for Wand in 62.

Their short lived time with Motown produced “This old heart of Mine” in 66.

This old Heart of Mine(is weak for you): Isley Brothers/Released/1/28/66 Pop # 12 R&B # 6

In October of 2009, 68 year old Ronald Isley was released from prison just a few months shy of his pending April 13, 2010 release date/he was convicted of tax evasion.

I think the Isleys where more significant before Motown. Shout and Twist and Shout remain two of my all-time favourites.

Jimmy Ruffin

The son of a Baptist preacher, Jimmy is the brother of David Ruffin, the former lead of The Temptations and lead performer.

Now Jimmy was offered the job with The Temps but turned it down in favour of his brother. With the help of David he became associated with Motown, in the early sixties.

Jimmy recorded for Miracle, a Motown Subsidiary, and would not have success until 1966 when he recorded “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted“.

What becomes of the Brokenhearted: Jimmy Ruffin/Released/6/3/66 Pop # 7 R&B # 6

He would go on to record with David in 1970 on the Soul label, “Stand by Me“.

He also had a modest hit with Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees in 1980.

Chris Clark

Truly one of the most unheralded talents that Motown had, Chris Clark could have been huge, but she was never used properly.

As a white singer who dated Berry Gordy while signed to Motown, Clark needed thick skin. Nevertheless the girl could sing. Gordy himself penned a dirty blues “Do Right Baby” for her first single, then drafted Holland Dozier Holland to record “Loves Gone Bad“.

Love’s Gone Bad: Chris Clark/Released/7/14/66 Pop #100 R&B # 41

A Californian who joined Motown in 63, Clark was a platinum blonde. The radio stations thought she was black and when she went on TV everyone was surprised.

But Clark, who also photographed many Motown artists, would have the last laugh. The movie script she later wrote with Suzanne dePasse and Terence McCoy for Diana Ross, “Lady Sings the Blues” was nominated for an Oscar!

The Monitors

The Monitors

A short-lived group, the Monitors had only one release on Motown from November 1965 to August 1968, called “Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam)“.

Greetings(This is Uncle Sam): The Monitors/Released/2/24/66 Pop # 100 R&B # 21

The group consisted of Richard Street, Warren Harris, and Sandra and John Fagin (it’s unclear whether the Fagins were siblings or a couple). Harris had attended Northwestern High School in Detroit with future Temptations: Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Street; he joined Williams and Franklin in “The Distants”, but later quit — after which, “The Distants” merged with “The Primes” and signed with Motown as “The Temptations”.

Other Great Hits of 1966…

The Hunter gets captured by the Game: The Marvelettes/Released/12./27/66 Pop # 13 R&B # 2

It Takes Two: Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston/Released/12/5/66 Pop #14 R&B # 4

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg: The Temptations/5/3/66 Pop # 13 R&B # 1

Beauty is only skin Deep: The Temptations/Released/8/4/66 Pop # 3 R&B # 1

(I know) I’m Losing You: The Temptations/Released/11/2/66 Pop # 8 R&B # 1

Function at the Junction: Shorty Long/Released/3/17/66 Pop # 97 R&B # 42

Reach Out I’ll be There: Four Tops/Released/8/18/66 Pop # 1 R&B # 1

Standing in the Shadows of Love: Four Tops/Released/11/28/66

You can’t hurry Love: The Supremes/7/25/66 Pop # 1 R&B # 1

(I’m a) Roadrunner: Jr. Walker & the All Stars/Released/3/21/66 Pop #20 R&B # 4

How sweet it is (to be loved by you): Jr. Walker & the All Stars/Released/7/13/66 Pop # 18 R&B # 3

Heaven must have sent You: The Elgins/Released/8/25/66 Pop # 50 R&B # 9


One response to “Motown 1966, Hittsville, USA – Gary

  1. Geez, you’re killing me with these songs. I remember listening to David Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” booming over the speakers in the WYBC radio station in New Haven every time I walked in (when I was apprenticing as a DJ). Great memories, great song.

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