Thursday, May 31, 2007
This band of musicians had more number one hits than Elvis, The Beach Boys, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined.
They were the band for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Diana Ross & The Supremes. The Temptations. Marvin Gaye's. Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, even young Stevie Wonder's band.
The early recording artists at Motown all had the same band. A band of session musicians hand picked by Berry Gordy from the jazz clubs and hole in the wall bars of Detroit. They were musicians, employed at Hitsville USA.
Not many can answer the question.
Until the 2002 documentary came out, finally acknowledging these great musicians behind the original "Motown Sound", I'll bet it would be hard to find anyone who could name just one member.
Joe Hunter, Earl Van Dyke, Eddie "Bongo" Brown, Jack Ashford, Richard "Pistol" Allen, William "Benny" Benjamin, Robert White, Joe Messina, Eddie Willis, James Jamerson and Jack Brokensha were origional members.
These musicians never got the fame and notoriety that came out of Detroit with the hits they helped make. Their pay was for session work, no royalties. In the early 70's, when Berry Gordy moved Motown to LA, they weren't part of the move. They were replaced with members of The Wrecking Crew, LA's collection of studio musicians.
My cousin by marriage, was one of just a few white guys that was employed by Berry Gordy. I remember him talking about this new "girl" group that was going to be big, really big. Indeed, Diana Ross and The Supremes did leave their mark.
I started to research what these guys did with the years that followed, but decided to leave it out. Most didn't have the happily ever after ending, or have passed away.
The name of the band?
The Funk Brothers