Motown

Mel Brown didn’t have the money growing up to afford drum sticks so he used rolled up newspapers to bang out a beat nearly everywhere he went. At the age of 17, young Mel was playing in area night clubs. While attending Portland State University (on a full scholarship), he met Marvin Gaye while the...
Warren Roché met Michael Thomas in the sixth grade where they were studying the trumpet. Both went on to studio careers and together they formed a valve oil company (Roché-Thomas) to make a little money on the side. Both men also played in the band that performed with Lou Rawls. That gig provided...
Dennis Coffey was a member of the studio musicians at Motown known as the Funk Brothers. Dennis recorded a string of hits with the group in the 1960s and 70s. He later joined the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland when they formed the record company Hot Wax. Dennis’ guitar skills can be...
Tony Newton was nicknamed “Baby Funk Brother” by the original studio musicians at Motown Records where he began working in 1964. His first session with the Funk Brothers was the song “Baby Love” by the Supremes, which was released on the album Where Did Our Love Go. Tony’s long career in music took...
Sylvester Rivers has applied his musical talents to thousands of hit recordings over the years as well as music for television and motion pictures. His list of credits includes several categories as pianist, arranger, and musical director. The list of iconic performers he has worked with is just as...
Paul Riser Sr. was given important musical training when he was in school, which helped set the direction of his career as a trombonist and later as an arranger. He was hired as a trombonist to join the famous studio musicians at Motown Records. He soon began arranging charts for the group and...
McKinley Jackson’s impressive discography includes his studio work as a trombonist as well as his songwriting and arranging for Motown, Hot Wax and other labels. His band, The Politicians, not only performed live and cut a now famous self-titled album and can be heard on “She’s Not Just Another...
Nate Watts grew up in Detroit, Michigan when Motown was in full swing, and it proved to be a major inspiration for the bass legend. In 1974 Nate was summoned by Stevie Wonder to join his band and his first recording session with Stevie was on the classic album Songs In The Key of Life. Nate has...
Allee Willis wrote a number of successful songs that have become part of the fabric of pop music. Allee either wrote or co-wrote songs such as “September” by Earth Wind & Fire, the theme for the sitcom Friends entitled “I’ll Be there for You,” the Broadway musical The Color Purple, and "Neutron...
Phil Ranelin stood in line at school to pick an instrument for band. He really wanted the saxophone but when he got to the head of the line all the saxophones were gone and he was given a trombone. It was not his first choice, but he grew to love the instrument and in fact made it his own over the...

Pages