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From Rolling Stone:
Today marks the official 50th anniversary of Motown Records, and members of some of the label’s most famous acts were on hand in the Motor City to help kick off what will be a year-long celebration for the famed label. The Four Tops’ Abdul “Duke” Fakir and members of the Miracles, Martha & the Vandellas and Rare Earth will spend the week at the Motown Historical Museum, housed in the original Hitsville Headquarters. Plus, today was officially named Motown Day in the city of Detroit.
One of the world’s most important and iconic record labels, Motown, celebrates its 50th birthday today (January 12).
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.
“My Girl”, released December 21, 1964, is a 1965 number-one single recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy (Motown) label. Written and produced by Miracles members Smokey Robinson,and Ronald White, the song became the Temptations’ first U.S. number-one single, and is today their signature song. Robinson’s inspiration for writing this song was his wife, Miracles member Claudette Rogers Robinson, and he originally intended to have his group record the song,The recorded version of “My Girl” was the first Temptations single to feature David Ruffin on lead vocals.
Previously, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams had performed most of the group’s lead vocals, and Ruffin had joined the group as a replacement for former Temptation Elbridge “Al” Bryant. While on tour as part of the Motortown Revue, a collective tour for most of the Motown roster, Smokey Robinson caught the Temptations’ part of the show. The group had included a medley of soul standards in the show, one of which, The Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk”, was a solo spot for Ruffin. Impressed, Robinson decided to produce a single with Ruffin singing lead. After some persuasion from Ruffin’s bandmates, Robinson had the Temptations record “My Girl” instead of The Miracles, and recruited Ruffin to sing the lead vocals.
“My Girl” climbed to the top of the U.S. pop charts after its Christmastime 1964 release, making it the Temptations’ first number-one hit. The single was also the first number-one hit on the reinstated Billboard R&B Singles chart, which had gone on an eighteen-month hiatus from 1963 to 1965. The success of this single launched a series of Ruffin-led hits, including “Since I Lost My Baby” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”. The former background figure quickly became the group’s main (and, excepting irregular leads by Kendricks and Williams, only) lead singer by the end of the year. Unfortunately, after this hit as well as Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, Ruffin started to develop a large ego. He was later fired from the group (see the Temptations main article for more details).
In 2004, “My Girl” was ranked number 88 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.