Where Is The Motown Music Festival?

Sources: SooDetriot | All Things Michael

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I rarely (if ever) leave the state of Michigan but when I do, I make sure that I’m “puttin’ on for the D” by wearing my old English “D” fitted (baseball cap). So of course last week when I took a trip to Atlanta, GA, I wore that cap proudly while garnering a bit of attention from the fellow photographers behind the scenes. I was invited by a friend to be one of the photographers for the One Music Fest and this fest featured music artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Jhene Aiko, Daley, Amel Larreaux, and many more. While speaking with one of the fellow photographers, he noticed my hat and said “Hey did you really come down here from Detroit for this?” I replied to “Well yeah I mean because in Detroit we have concerts from time to time but nothing really of this stature.” The gentleman took a step back, and with a shocked face said, “How doesn’t Motown have a music festival?” I said, “Well we do have a techno fest. I don’t know how I forgot that.” He then said with great emphasis: “I don’t think that you are getting me. Why doesn’t MOTOWN have music festival?” I looked at him, and replied with a hint of sadness in my voice, “ I don’t know but that is a VERY great question. When I find that out, I’ll get back to you.” We exchanged contact information just off the strength of networking and I headed back to the stage to capture the next artist to perform. From that walk to the stage to me creating this story, that question stuck with me. Why doesn’t MOTOWN have its’ own music festival?

While pondering this question, I started to search the origins of techno music and learn a little bit more of the history. After all, that was the first thing that came to mind when that question from the fellow photographer inquired. I already knew that Detroit was the birthplace of techno music, but what I did not know was how short the history. Techno music was created in the mid 1980s, and while there are many different genres of techno music, the style of techno music that was introduced in Detroit is widely recognized as the foundation of it. This is proven by the tremendous turnout each year to the “Movement: Detroit Electronic Music Festival” which is held in Hart Plaza in Downtown Detroit. The festival is held every Memorial Day weekend, and has been for the past 14 years. Since 2009 the attendance has been 80,000+, with this years’ festival having attendance reaching over 107,000. It is widely recognized as one of the world’s largest electronic music festivals.

After I did my research on techno, I sat in my chair perplexed. Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, and The Jackson 5 are all artists that paved a way for a great deal of the music that we listen to today. When you listen to a Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Tank, or Kanye West (on a rap level), you hear traces of these artists in their music. The photography studio turned Motown headquarters has produced a sound in the heart of Detroit for nearly 13 years before Berry Gordy relocated Motown headquarters to Los Angeles. Since 1985 “Hitsville U.S.A.” as it is dubbed, has operated as a museum that still rests at its’ original spot on 2648 West Grand Boulevard. Is a museum enough to honor the Motown legacy though? I think not.

Many cities across the country are known for different types of roles in the history and evolution of music. New Orleans & Cincinnati are known for their jazz festivals. Atlanta is being known for the many hip-hop and R&B festivals that take place during the year. Austin, Texas is known for “South by Southwest” (SXSW), and “Austin City Limits “(ACL). Now in fairness to Detroit, “Summer Jamz” and more recently, “The Big Show at The Joe” are staples in the Detroit music scene that are anticipated each year, but they are just concerts. With a city so rich in soul music due to the Motown origins, it is nearly criminal that there is not a Motown Music Festival. Take a look at the current Motown roster. Stevie Wonder is still with the label after all of these years but then you have Kem, Ne-Yo, Babyface, Mila J, Erykah Badu, Chrisette Michelle, India. Arie, and Kem. If you just took that current roster of Motown artists, and had them perform over a two-day span during a festival that celebrated the history and contributions of Motown to music, I believe that would definitely be a great starting point. Why stop there though?

There could be networking seminars with a panel of well-respected individuals in the music industry guiding indie artists on how to make it in the business. You could follow that by having a banquet at the newly renovated Cobo Hall, where it would serve as a special and intimate time to honor the legacy of Motown. To end the festival, you could have a Motown theme parade or Firework show to send everyone off as a grand finale. These may not be the greatest of ideas, but they are a few that came to mind.

The rich roots of Detroit music origins can’t be debated, but it also must not be half celebrated. With the city currently on the rise, recognizing the rich past that is has must be a part of this transition. Citizens of Detroit should not have to travel to others states to partake in music festivals featuring many of the top musical acts in our country. That should be right in our own backyard. In my personal opinion, I feel a great deal of artists should want to come and perform in Detroit. Where is music today without the contributions of Motown? Think about the fact that if there was no Motown, we may have never heard of Michael Jackson, who is recognized as one of the greatest (if not the greatest) music icon we have ever seen. Where would a Beyoncé have been if there weren’t a Diana Ross paving the way? While I don’t know if my outcry for a music festival of this magnitude will come to fruition, I do know that if you’re reading this, you’re wondering the same thing the photographer in Atlanta did.

 

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Pop’s Greatest Year: 100 Best Singles of 1984

Sources: Rolling Stone | Edited By – All Things Michael

Let’s go crazy! The standout songs from radio’s ‘Thriller’ season!

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From Prince to Madonna to Michael Jackson to Bruce Springsteen to Cyndi Lauper, 1984 was the year that pop stood tallest. New Wave, R&B, hip-hop, mascara’d hard rock and “Weird Al” Yankovic all crossed paths on the charts while a post-“Billie Jean” MTV brought them into your living room. In the spirit of this landmark year, here are the 100 best singles from the year pop popped. To be considered, the song had to be released in 1984 or have significant chart impact in 1984, and charted somewhere on the Billboard Hot 100.

93. The Jacksons feat. Mick Jagger, “State of Shock”

Hot 100 Peak: Number Three

Michael Jackson began 1984 at Number One: Thriller broke the all-time sales record, topping the month-end charts for January, February and March, and the Paul McCartney collab “Say Say Say” was the most popular single in the country for the first two weeks of the year. Sixth months later, he and his brothers scored their final group Top Five by recruiting none other than Mick Jagger to plead for a little “mouth-to-mouth re-susc-it-ation” on the arena funk “State of Shock.” Appropriately, the tune was a live favorite, performed both by Jagger (with Tina Turner) at Live Aid and during the closing medley at the Jacksons’ Victory Tour, one the highest-grossing shows of the decade.

58. Rebbie Jackson, “Centipede”

Hot 100 Peak: Number 24
As sinuous and vocally self-assured as any Jackson family record not made or fronted by Michael, his squeal-prone eldest sibling’s first and highest hit was nonetheless written and produced by him. And his repressed, tormented sexuality runs all through its slithering electro-funk: “You crawled into the bathroom window, to bite him with your love,” like a smooth criminal — only here the metaphor is a creepy-crawly arthropod with way too many legs, a “hot” one for some reason, that turns into a snake in the final verse. On Rebbie’s album, she also covered Prince’s “I Feel for You,” only a week after Chaka Khan did. The Pointer Sisters had done it two years before, actually, but Chaka won.

54. Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, “Say, Say, Say”

Hot 100 Peak: Number One

In what would become one of pop’s most famous and turbulent intergenerational friendships, Paul McCartney became something of a big brother to the only pop star of the Eighties whose popularity rivaled that of the Beatles. Although their first collaboration, “The Girl Is Mine,” is mainly remembered as the weakest link in Thriller‘s chain of hits, their second duet, for Macca’s 1983 Pipes of Peace, found common ground with an uptempo rock song. It was Number One for six weeks between 1983 and 1984, and, as Billboard reported last year, the 40th biggest hit of all time.

53. “Weird Al” Yankovic, “Eat It”

Hot 100 Peak: Number 12
Even the man’s own Twitter bio acknowledges that this will forever be “Weird Al” Yankovic’s tastiest calling card. The Michael Jackson parody won him his first Grammy (for Best Comedy Recording, beating out Rodney Dangerfield and Richard Pryor) and rhymes “Raisin Bran” with “kids starving in Japan.” The video, with its non-stop barrage of visual gags, helped establish MTV (and music video as an iconic medium) almost as much as the videos it was spoofing. MJ loved it, or at least tolerated it.

25. Rockwell, “Somebody’s Watching Me”

Hot 100 Peak: Number Two
Kennedy William Gordy was rock royalty — he was the son of Motown mastermind Berry Gordy, his middle name was gifted from Smokey Robinson’s government name and he was even brother-in-law to Jermaine Jackson at the time (not to mention he was the future half-brother of LMFAO’s Redfoo) — but he couldn’t get a record deal. Finally, his dad was all ears when Rockwell got his childhood pal Michael Jackson to sing the hook on his first (and biggest) single “Somebody’s Watching Me.” It’s hard to guess how far it would have gone without MJ’s help, but the single was a great midpoint between Eighties R&B and Eighties New Wave regardless: It had the vibes of Men at Work’s paranoia anthem “Who Can It Be Now?,” a touch of electro and verses that Rockwell delivered like a cockney David Byrne.

5. Michael Jackson, “Thriller”

Hot 100 Peak: Number Four
In the worst of all possible alternative universes, songwriter Rod Temperton stuck with his original title: “Starlight.” Fortunately, in our happier, weirder world he went with “Thriller.” The final hit single from the blockbuster album that popped out seven of them (starting way back in October of 1982) is a perfect mix of campy winks and genuine chills, aided spooktacularly by a synth bass that’s even creepier than Vincent Price luxuriating in the word “evil.” The music video for “Thriller” was also quite popular.

Read and listen to the full listing here

 

D’ya Remember When Michael Jackson Lived In Westmeath?

Sources: Entertainment,ie – By John Balfe| Creative Edits By – All Things Michael

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The first in a new series on entertainment.ie examines when some famous names lived among us on our island. First up: Michael Jackson.

Unless you count the likes of Joe Dolan and The Blizzards, Westmeath isn’t particularly well known for its musical heritage but for a six-month spell in 2006 the sleepy town of Rosemount counted the world’s biggest pop star among its inhabitants.

After his acquittal on counts of child abuse in 2005, Michael Jackson wanted to put as much distance himself from the unending glare of the media and living in his Neverland ranch simply wouldn’t allow such a luxury. Jackson decided to leave the United States for a few months, apparently without a concrete plan on where to go. A quick spell in the Middle East followed but didn’t last very long, leaving the King of Pop searching for a new destination free from the watchful eyes of legions of paparazzi.

Somehow, almost as if he threw a dart at a map of the world, Michael Jackson ended up in County Westmeath.

Grouse Lodge is a Georgian estate around an hour’s drive from Dublin airport. It’s entirely self-sufficient; organic food is grown on its land and it boasts a swimming pool and fully kitted out recording studio among its amenities. Its biggest plus point, at least from Michael Jackson’s perspective, was the utter serenity which surrounded it.

Rural Ireland is about as far removed from the hustle bustle that Jackson had been surrounded by for the majority of his life. Jackson’s recent personal life had been chaotic, stemming from the recent child abuse charges and Martin Bashir’s ‘Living with Michael Jackson’ documentary, which painted the singer as a reclusive eccentric, completely out of touch with reality.

Perhaps it was the isolation, the idyllic setting or the fresh country air but Michael Jackson liked Westmeath. A lot.

After spending a month living in a converted cowshed on Grouse Lodge, Jackson moved a few minutes down to the road to the Coolatore estate and eventually enlisted local taxi driver Ray O’Hara as his personal chauffer.

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Legend has it that O’Hara drove Jackson and his children to the now defunct Screen By The Sea in Greystones to see Superman Returns, the same location where Ted and Dougal protested the fictional ‘The Passion of St. Tibulas’ in an episode of Father Ted.

Another noteworthy point in Michael Jackson’s unlikely stay in County Westmeath is just how the locals took him and his family under their collective wing. When word inevitably leaked that the King of Pop was staying just down the road, many locals would do their best to push any journalists or paparazzi off his scent by giving them incorrect directions to his lodge. One farmer allegedly even threatened to fill a photographer’s car with slurry if he was to bother the singer.

Paddy Dunning, who owns Grouse Lodge (as well as the Button Factory, Temple Lane Recording Studios etc), told the Guardian: “One night we ended up in the studio. Michael was on the drums, I was playing guitar and [producer] nephew was on the keyboards and we just started getting a rhythm together and slowly but surely Nephew just creeped the song into ‘Billie Jean'”.

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“It was just mad playing ‘Billie Jean’ with Michael Jackson – I never thought I’d get to do that.”

Dunning also told the Guardian about a time Jackson had gone for a walk in the woods and stumbled upon a waxwork on Elvis, a retired exhibit from Dublin’s Wax Museum Plus. Jackson exclaimed: “Paddy! I just met my father-in-law in the woods!”

As his stay came to a close Jackson discussed with Paddy the idea of buying a house locally and taking up permanent residence in Ireland. At the very least, Jackson said, he’d rent another and had intended to spent a large part of his time in Ireland during the ill-fated ‘This Is It’ series of dates in London which, ultimately, he would never even begin.

Just three years after his stay in Westmeath, Michael Jackson was dead. Dunning maintains that had he stayed in Ireland he’d still be alive today. Ultimately that’s impossible to prove, of course, but Jackson’s fans across the globe can take a modicum of solace in the fact that for a six month spell in 2006 Michael Jackson was at peace, temporarily at least.

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Today In Rock: September 11

Sources: The Examiner – By William Phoenix | All Things Michael

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There were several significant events on this day between the years 1953 and 2003.

On this day in 1953 Tommy Shaw, future guitarist and singer for Styx, is born in Montgomery, Alabama.

On this day in 1958 LaVern Baker released “I Cried A Tear.”

On this day in 1961 The Beatles have a noontime gig at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.

On this day in 1962 The Beatles record their first British singles:“Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You.”

On this day in 1964 Harrisongs is incorporated.

On this day in 1967 The Beatles begin filming Magical Mystery Tour. Also on this day “All You Need Is Love” backed with “Baby You’re A Rich Man” goes gold. It also hits number one on the Billboard charts.

On this day in 1971 The Jackson 5 cartoon series, called “The Jackson 5ive”, debuts on ABC. (Each episode showed various adventures with animated versions of the group, along with Michael’s pet mice Ray and Charles and his snake Rosie. The series ran from 1971-1973.)

On this day in 1977 David Bowie appears on Bing Crosby’s “Merrie Olde Christmas” special. Bowie won’t sing “Little Drummer Boy” with Crosby, so his part is rewritten as “Peace On Earth.” (Crosby dies a month later, and the duet becomes a Christmas classic, growing even more popular when MTV starts playing the clip a few years later.)

On this day in 2001 most radio stations simulcast news after the terrorist attacks take place. As stations gradually return to music, they try to be sensitive about what songs they play, but Clear Channel Communications goes overboard with a list of 165 songs they ask their stations to avoid, including “Smooth Criminal” and “What A Wonderful World.”

On this day in 2009 Jim Carroll dies at the age of 60.

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Before Off The Wall

Sources: The Moderate Voice | All Things Michael

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Show me a modern day pop or RnB artist who wasn’t influenced by Michael Jackson? I can’t think of a single soul. For better or for worse, Michael’s impact on music can still be felt today in the music industry. Artists are still dressing like Michael, they’re still singing like Michael, they’re still dancing like Michael and they’re still making videos like Michael.

It’s amazing that when you think about the late King of Pop’s career most only consider the fruitful period in the 1980’s and almost completely forget what he did before that time. I simply get annoyed at folks who try to compare the Justin Biebers (even the great Smokey Robinson is at it) and Chris Browns of this world to Michael Jackson simply because I think they are disrespecting the utter scope of Michael Jackson and how he had an extraordinary talent even at the age of
twelve. Twelve years old, ladies and gentlemen.

The five killer Jackson Five songs, ABC, I want you back, Who’s loving you, The love you save and I’ll be there were all recorded before Michael Jackson was a teenager. Just think about that for a second and go back and listen to Who’s loving you and tell how a boy has any right to have that much soul in his voice. I feel pretty confident in believing that only Barbra Streisand and Stevie Wonder can claim to have possessed and publicly demonstrated such a godly talent at such an early age.

It isn’t just the vocal performance that we should revere – Michael was also a hell of a writer before he released Off the Wall. The man had a hand in writing all of The Jackson’s Triumph album which included songs like Can you feel it and he wrote Shake your body. These are all incredible songs and it is a shame that such feats are forgotten in conversations about Michael Jackson.

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With all of the above said, I understand why people focus on Off the wall, Thriller and Bad – they’re incredible genre defining pieces of work. All of them are in my top 10 favourite albums of all time and they are the main reasons why I have chosen to focus on Michael for the whole week on my blog.

 

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Marlon Says Michael Was Introduced To Moonwalk By His Nephew

Sources: Contact News | All Things Michael

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Michael Jackson was shown how to moonwalk by his brother Marlon’s nephew.

The late pop superstar thrilled the world on ‘The Motown 25 Yesterday, Today, Forever’ TV special in 1983 when he unveiled the dancefloor gliding move to the world during his now iconic performance of ‘Billie Jean’.

Now Marlon, 57, has revealed it was his young nephew who first showed Michael the move and inspired him to go on and perfect it.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Marlon said: ”My nephew was actually the one who showed Michael the Moonwalk. He was about 10 or 12 and he was over at our house. Michael saw him do it and said, ‘What is that?’ After that, Jeffrey Daniel [of Shalamar] taught him it.”

Also recalling the performance in the joint interview, Tito said: ”Everyone was watching Michael, to see what he’d do. We’d never seen anything like his performance. And neither had anyone else. The whole audience was taken aback.”

On June 25 it was the fifth anniversary of Michael’s death and although his brothers – who still perform together as a group – miss him everyday they are immensely proud of what he achieved.

Tito said: ”It was a sad day. But it felt good to think that I had a brother who was so tremendously talented and who touched – and changed – the world. I’m proud of Michael.”

Revealing how he chose to remember Michael on the anniversary, Jackie said: ”I stayed home and listened to his music. It was all over the radio when I drove to the grocery store. I thought about my brother all day.”

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Full interview at Guardian 

This Day In History : Michael Jackson Earns His Twelfth Number One With “You Are Not Alone”

Sources: Daily Ridge | All Things Michael

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The seventh child of a hard-driving father committed to turning his sons into superstars, a young Michael Jackson was pushed in front of the public at the tender age of five and told never to lose their attention. He succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations, leading the Jackson 5 to stardom by the age of 12 before embarking on a solo career that would see him become nothing less than the most popular and successful solo male pop star of the modern era. On this day in 1996, he set a record that has since been surpassed only by one other performer, Mariah Carey: Jackson earned his 12th #1 hit as a solo artist when the R&B ballad “You Are Not Alone” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Jackson’s incredible run of chart-topping hits began in 1972 with the release of his fifth single, “Ben,” from the motion picture of the same name. A touching ballad about a sensitive boy’s devotion to a rat, “Ben” may seem astrange pop-cultural artifact in retrospect, but it raised few eyebrows at the time, when it made Jackson the third-youngest recording artist (after Stevie Wonder and Donny Osmond) to earn a solo #1 hit. It would be another seven years before Jackson again reached the top of the pop charts, but when he did, it marked the beginning of a 10-year run as great as any in pop history.

“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Rock With You” were Jackson’s second and third #1 hits, both from the Quincy Jones-produced 1979 album Off The Wall, a triumphant release that would be dwarfed by the success of the 1982 follow-up album, ThrillerThriller yielded Jackson’s fourth and fifth chart-topping hits in “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” while becoming one of the biggest-selling albums of all time and causing Time magazine to call Michael Jackson “A one-man rescue team for the music business.” Five years later, the “King of Pop” released the album Bad, which gave him his sixth through 10th #1s with “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Man in the Mirror” and “Dirty Diana.” “Black or White,” from the album Dangerous, became his 11th chart-topper in 1991.

“You Are Not Alone,” which topped the pop charts on September 2, 1996 was written and co-produced by the R&B star R. Kelly. And though a court in Belgium ruled in 2007 that Kelly had plagiarized “You Are Not Alone” from a Belgian song called “If We Can Start All Over,” it nevertheless stands as Michael Jackson’s 12th, and final (barring any posthumous releases), solo #1 hit.

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