Rare photographs show Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes' first UK tour
New exhibition chronicles Motown artists' first group tour in the UK
Thursday 24 April 2014
When Motown artists came to the UK for their first ever Tamla-Motown group tour in 1965, the only known names on the bill were The Supremes.
Other US stars including Stevie Wonder, The Miracles, and Martha & the Vandellas were still under the radar.
The venues they performed in outside of London were, at best, half-full. A British star, Georgie Fame, was added to the bill, to help sell tickets.
Now a new exhibition of rare photographs at London’s Proud Galleries chronicles Motown’s first visitors to the UK in a candid way, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of international hits for the record company that was founded in 1959 by Berry Gordy.
The Supremes, including Diana Ross, stepped off the plane at Heathrow with hat boxes for the tour in 1965; they had already had a UK No 1 hit, “Baby Love”, in 1964 . An informal group shot includes Ross, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder at the Cumberland Hotel in 1965, where they stayed for the tour in London.
It wasn’t until 1966 that people finally recognised a Motown “sound”, and the record company continued to bring its artists to Britain as it grew in popularity.
The Jackson 5 can be seen in images sightseeing at Buckingham Palace in 1972 prior to their Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium, as well as hanging out on the King’s Road. But Motown artists felt somewhat disappointed and puzzled at the lack of attention during the 1965 tour.
“This tour was ahead of its time,” says Adam White, a Motown expert, who worked at Universal and viewed the photos from the EMI archives when Universal acquired EMI in 2012.
“This was the first time black, rhythm’n’blues artists came on a group tour. Nobody knew who this 14-year-old Stevie Wonder was. He’d had a big hit, “Fingertips”, in America but not in the UK.”
White, who recalls a nearly-empty Colston Hall in Bristol for the Motown tour in 1965, didn’t care that few others turned up.
“It was utterly mind-blowing seeing the Motown stars in person.” He had persuaded his boss at a record store to start a Motown mail-order service. “I knew all the fans as we were part of the Tamla-Motown Appreciation Society.
“There was not much pop music you could listen to on the radio – you needed to search around.”
‘Classic Motown: The Invasion Begins!’, Proud Galleries, The Horse Hospital, London NW1 (www.proud.co.uk), 14 May to 13 July.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Presidential optical illusion offers clues to how brain processes faces
- 5 Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him Wembley Stadium tickets after that rant
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Costa Book Awards 2015: H is for Hawk named book of the year
Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels: 'Kendrick Lamar is killing it, but radios are too afraid to play him'
Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Louise Mensch says 'F**K YOU' in explosive tweets about David Cameron, Saudi Embassy and the Queen over King Abdullah tributes