In October 1963, EMI began to issue Motown recordings on the Stateside label, starting with Martha & The Vandellas ‘Heatwave’. Slowly but surely, the British public grew to love the Sound of Young America and in June 1964 with the label’s fifteenth release – Mary Wells ‘My Guy’ – the label enjoyed its first UK chart success.
The late Dave Godin, famed for coining the phrase Northern Soul and for his much loved CD compilations of deep soul, had been championing Motown’s releases for some while, having started The Mary Wells & Tamla-Motown Newsletter.
In the book The In Crowd, Dave recalled: “It seemed to me that these brilliant records were simply going to be lost and forgotten if nobody took them up. When the Marvelettes ‘Please Mr. Postman’ was issued on Fontana, I just thought it was one of the greatest records I’d ever heard (I still do!) and that started me thinking about setting up some sort of network of fans to help spread the word.”
Oriole had issued a handful of Motown 45s and albums in the UK but these failed miserably, so Dave took the initiative of approaching Motown direct, and to his surprise received a three-page telegram from label supremo Berry Gordy Jr including an invitation to visit Detroit.
The fan club changed its name to the Tamla-Motown Appreciation Society and each month members would receive copies of Dave Godin’s lovingly crafted Hitsville USA! newsletter. The record company was delighted with the reaction of this small army of British fans and produced a single 45 featuring greetings from among others, Berry Gordy Jr, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson.
Dave would organise for TMAS members, PAs by acts such as the Marvelettes, the Four Tops and Marvin Gaye, and even meet-and-greets of Motown artists at his parents’ house.
The story behind TMAS is documented in Keith Rylatt’s forthcoming book Hitsville USA!
Beautifully presented in full colour, the book includes rare photographs taken by TMAS member Clive Stone, that had been kept unseen in his loft since the 1960s. As well as many pages from the highly collectable newsletter, the book will include the memories of former members, and music journalists like Norman Jopling who interviewed Godin for Record Mirror after the trip to Detroit and Billboard’s Adam White who saw the Motown Revue in his home town of Bristol.