In many ways, Gordy was the Paul Whiteman of his era, although he would have bridled at the suggestion. Just as Whiteman had made a lady out of jazz in the Twenties, Gordy came up with a black sound that was quick, nervous and rather white. His acts were all required to go to Motowns etiquette school so as to learn which fork to use, how to dress and how to express themselves in a ladylike and gentlemanly manner. An old friend of mine, still in radio and working at an oldies station in Tulsa, said about Motowns sound in the Sixties, Its not considered black music; its white. White or not, it made fortunes for a lot of musical entrepreneurs in Detroit. The harsh discipline of Hitsville USA forced people to succeed.
In the early years, Berry Gordy had trouble settling on a basic sound. Eddie Holland had worked with Gordy back when Gordy was producing him at Mercury Records. In 1961, Eddie had his first minor hit for Motown which he didnt write. In this recording, Eddie sounds like Clyde McPhatter, and the basic sound is very much Brill Building.
Eddies brother Brian Holland was a staff songwriter from the very beginning of Motown, and he had his first success in 1961 too. Thats Marvin Gaye on drums.
Lamont Dozier had been around for years, recording for different labels but not registering a hit.
It was in 1963 that H-D-H had their first entry on the charts, featuring Eddie Holland on vocals. Its pretty good, and it gives a clear indication of how the H-D-H sound would evolve over time. Its quick, nervous and very catchy.