Motown Memories Volume 1, 2, and 3 on the Tamla Motown label, 1968, value £60 each.

THIS year celebrates 60 years of music on the Tamla Motown record label, writes MICHAEL BROOKS. Founded by Berry Gordy it began life in January 1959 as Tamla records. Gordy wanted it to be known as Tammy Records after the song Tammy recorded by Debbie Reynolds but the name was copyrighted. It became Tamla Motown, a combination of motor and town, a nickname for Detroit, Michigan, then the largest car manufacturer in the USA; it eventually became known as the Motown sound, a type of soul music with a distinct pop influence.

Up until 1964, Motown's records were released in the UK on various different record labels. The first number one hit was Please Mr Postman by The Marvelettes on the Fontana label. The song was later recorded by The Beatles. Issued on their first LP Please, Please, Me, it was later recorded by the brother and sister duo The Carpenters and reached number two in the UK charts in 1975. In 1964 Tamla Motown finally had its own international label. The first million selling single was Shop Around by the Miracles, which reached number two on the Billboard charts in the USA. The biggest million seller was My Guy by Mary Wells still revered as a Motown classic to this day.

Throughout the sixties, the Motown record label had more than 100 top ten records in the UK alone, and the success of its music led Berry Gordy to relocate to Los Angelos, California. Motown eventually expanded into television productions and even into films. Diana Ross was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in The Lady Sings the Blues based on the life of jazz singer Billie Holliday.

Motown music was a major influence on several non Motown artists in the sixties, notably Dusty Springfield. Heavily influenced by black female singers Martha Reeves, Dionne Warwick and The Supremes she became known as the "white soul singer". In the seventies the Motown sound became the basis of what became known as Northern Soul music that young people could dance to.

The cultural impact of Motown's music is best reflected by Smokey Robinson who said, "We were not only making music, we were making history. The racial problems and the barriers all broke down with the music; we would tour the Deep South in the early days of Motown and the audiences would be segregated, next time we went they were integrated, the kids were all dancing and holding hands."