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History of Motown

Motown's history is shown in relationship to world history. Click each year along the timeline to see how the two synched up.

Motown releases its first hit, “Money (That’s What I Want)”, sung by Barrett Strong, written by Berry Gordy, Jr. and Janie Bradford.

Esther Gordy Edwards becomes Senior Vice President in charge of International Talent Management, Inc.

Barney Ales becomes Vice President of Distributions and Sales.

The Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye, and Mary Wells sign with Motown. Mary Wells
records “Bye, Bye, Baby” on Motown label.

The Miracles featuring Smokey Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Ron White, Pete Moore and Claudette Robinson record first Motown record to sell one million copies, “Shop Around”.

Motown goes to Music Publishing Awards, Jobete is honored.

Chubby Checker causes international dance craze with his recording of “The Twist”.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., moves Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to Atlanta; serves as President.

Wilma Rudolph wins four gold medals at Olympic Games in Rome and Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) wins the gold medal in boxing.

John F. Kennedy elected President of U.S. with Lyndon B. Johnson as Vice President.

Nigeria, Cameroon and Belgian Congo gain independence.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, four black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University begin a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter.

Vietnam War: The United States announces that 3,500 American soldiers will be sent to Vietnam.