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Hitsville U.S.A.

Motown made Detroit a lightning rod for potential and promise where the level of competion pushed everyone to do their best. In the early 1960's, the atmosphere in the renovated two-story house at 2648 West Grand Boulevard was charged with energy and excitement. It was a magical place where a young musician could get a chance to really succeed. All the little neighborhood groups and bands had dreams of being discovered by Berry Gordy or one of his producers. Everyone there believed that great things were going to happen, and feelings of special closeness and friendship developed. The lesson was always to leave the audience hungry for more and the sheer professionalism in performers so young was astonishing. Hitsville became a home away from home for many young singers and musicians.

When Berry Gordy purchased the house in 1959, it needed a major top-to-bottom overhaul. Many of the artists and creative people Berry was working with came to help.
In no time at all the house took on a whole new life. The garage became a recording studio, and the first floor became the lobby and the control room. Above the picture window were those soon to be infamous big letters spelling out "HITSVILLE USA."

In the late 1960's, part of the daily operations were moved, and the recording began taking place in other studios. Not only was it a geographical move, but a spiritual one as well, morale suffered as the old friendliness was replaced by a more businesslike and formal atmosphere.

In 1972, the shift west of the Motown operation to California brought an end to the golden era. As the Los Angeles offices continued to grow and the Detroit headquarters shrank, a company newsletter in March, 1972, stated, "There are no plans at present to phase out the Detroit operations, as many rumors suggest". In June, Motown announced that it was closing it's Detroit offices and moving it's headquarters to Los Angeles. While the move probably made sense because of the increasing emphasis Berry Gordy was putting into making movies and television shows, many Motown fans believe the company's heart and soul was lost when it abandoned Detroit, that its most creative days were the 13 years from 1959 to 1972. Today the Hitsville building remains in the same spot where it is now home of the Motown Historical Museum.

The Gordy Story

Members of The Supremes outside the Hitsville building

A Motortown Revue Tour