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Motown 50: Timeline

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, January 11, 2009

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Key dates in Motown's 50-year history...

Jan. 12, 1959 -- Berry Gordy, Jr. borrows $800 from his family's Ber-Berry Co-op fund to start a record company for "Come to Me" by Marv Johnson. Licensed to United Artists, the song hit No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April.

August, 1959 -- Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)" is the first release on Gordy's Tamla Records imprint.

January, 1960 -- Motown moves into the two-story house at 2648 West Grand Blvd. that later became known as Hitsville U.S.A.

Jan. 16, 1961 -- The Miracles' "Shop Around" is Motown's first No. 1 R&B hit.

June 1961 -- Motown releases its first two albums, "Hi! We're the Miracles" and "The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye."

Dec. 11, 1961 -- The Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman" is Motown's first No. 1 pop hit.

April 1963 -- Mary Wells' "You Beat Me to the Punch" grabs Motown's first Grammy Award nomination.

June 8, 1963 -- "The Fabulous Miracles" is the first Motown album to appear on the Billboard pop chart.

Aug. 24, 1963 -- Little Stevie Wonder's "The 12 Year Old Genius" is Motown's first No. 1 pop album.

Nov. 1964 -- The Supermes' "Baby Love" is the first Motown single to hit No. 1 in the U.K.

May 21, 1965 -- The Supremes appear on the cover of Time magazine. In June the Supremes become the first Motown act to make the Ebony cover.

July 24, 1967 -- Diana Ross is given top-name billing in the Supremes.

June 1968 -- David Ruffin is the first Temptations member to go solo.

Dec. 9, 1968 -- "TCB," Motown's first television special, airs on NBC starring Diana Ross & the Supremes and the Temptations.

March 12, 1969 -- The Temptations' "Cloud Nine" wins Motown's first Grammy Award, for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance By a Duo or Group.

March 16, 1971 -- Motown's recording of Martin Luther King. Jr.'s "Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam" speech, on its Black Forum label, wins a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Recording.

July 16, 1972 -- Smokey Robinson leaves the Miracles after a series of farewell concerts in Washington, D.C.

Oct. 12, 1972 -- "Lady Sings the Blues," starring Diana Ross in an Academy Award-nominated turn as Billie Holiday, is Motown's first film.

January 1973 -- Berry Gordy, Jr., leaves his position as president of Motown Records to become chairman of Motown Industries.

March 2, 1974 -- Stevie Wonder wins five Grammy Awards and becomes the first African American artist to win Best Album for a release of his own ("Innervisions"). Wonder wins another five Grammys at the following year's ceremony.

May 25, 1983 -- The Emmy Award-winning "Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever" airs on NBC.

Jan. 21 1987 -- Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye are Motown's first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees. Berry Gordy, Jr., and the Supremes are inducted the following year.

June 28, 1988 -- Berry Gordy, Jr., sells Motown to Boston Ventures and MCA for $61 million.

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