DJ Motown Mix

I continue to be thrilled by the fact that The Motown Sound is still popular! I smile every request I receive whether at a Wedding, Party or Trivia Hosting Event. Motown Music seems to transcend age, race, gender or class. This has always been one of my attractions to Motown Music, its diverse and far-reaching audiences.  I created the DJ Motown Mix for those who want a pre-made mix of Classic Motown hits from Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Four Tops, Martha and The Vandellas, The Jackson 5, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Jackie Wilson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.

DJ Motown Mix

      Motown Mix - DJ Mystical Michael

The Motown Story

With an $800 loan from his family, Berry Gordy Jr. established Motown Records in January 1959. Within a few years, this Detroit-based outfit was selling more singles and releasing more hits than any other record company.

Beyond the formidable music and sales figures, Motown itself became a cultural icon. As the most successful African-American owned and operated record company- and business-in the U.S., it symbolized a new day: its energetic product reflected the striving toward progress and optimism of a long-oppressed people and the nation as a whole. Just as Jackie Robinson’s integration of major league baseball had far wider implications, the embrace of Motown’s artists and recordings by the entire listening audience helped hurdle overt racial barriers that had plagued the country since its inception.

In its classic era, the seminal music scene of the 1960s, Motown’s artists were among the most popular, establishing a standard of excellence and sophistication that has never been surpassed. Calling itself “The Sound Of Young America,” the instantly recognizable and often-imitated Motown Sound blended distinctively passionate singers, the call and response vocal arrangements of the African-American church tradition, pop music sensibilities, jazz virtuosity and irresistible rhythms, overlaying them with timeless songwriting.

Prior to founding Motown, Gordy had attempted other professions, including boxer, record store owner and auto worker before finding success as a songwriter, particularly with the dynamic singer Jackie Wilson. A chance meeting in 1958 with an aspiring local singing group, the Miracles, led to his teaching songwriting to the quintet’s leader, William “Smokey” Robinson. Their partnership formed the basis of Motown-a name derived from a folksy version of Detroit’s nickname, “the Motor City”-with Robinson becoming a prolific and highly inventive composer for the Miracles and other acts Gordy brought into his orbit. Motown kicked off with the Tamla label, leasing Marv Johnson’s “Come To Me” to UA; Barrett Strong, who cut “Money (That’s What I Want),” had the company’s first national hit. The Official Website of Classic Motown

DJ Motown Mix with Rhode Island Wedding DJ


The Motown Sound

Motown specialized in a type of soul music it referred to with the trademark “The Motown Sound”. Crafted with an ear towards pop appeal, the Motown Sound typically used tambourines to accent the back beat, prominent and often melodic electric bass-guitar lines, distinctive melodic and chord structures, and a call-and-response singing style that originated in gospel music. Pop production techniques such as the use of orchestral string sections, charted horn sections, and carefully arranged background vocals were also used. Complex arrangements and elaborate, melismatic vocal riffs were avoided. Motown producers believed steadfastly in the “KISS principle” (keep it simple, stupid).

The Motown production process has been described as factory-like. The Hitsville studios remained open and active 22 hours a day, and artists would often go on tour for weeks, come back to Detroit to record as many songs as possible, and then promptly go on tour again. Berry Gordy held quality control meetings every Friday morning, and used veto power to ensure that only the very best material and performances would be released. The test was that every new release needed to fit into a sequence of the top five selling pop singles of the week. Several tracks that later became critical and commercial favorites were initially rejected by Gordy; the two most notable being the Marvin Gaye songs, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “What’s Going On“. In several cases, producers would re-work tracks in hopes of eventually getting them approved at a later Friday morning meeting, as producer Norman Whitfield did with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg“.

Many of Motown’s best-known songs, including all the early hits for The Supremes, were written by the songwriting trio of Holland–Dozier–Holland (Lamont Dozier and brothersBrian and Eddie Holland). Other important Motown producers and songwriters included Norman WhitfieldWilliam “Mickey” StevensonSmokey RobinsonBarrett StrongNickolas Ashford and Valerie SimpsonFrank WilsonPamela Sawyer & Gloria Jones, James Dean & William WeatherspoonJohnny BristolHarvey FuquaGil Askey,  Stevie Wonderand Gordy himself.

The style created by the Motown musicians was a major influence on several non-Motown artists of the mid-1960s, such as Dusty Springfield and The Foundations. In the United Kingdom, the Motown Sound became the basis of the northern soul movement. Smokey Robinson said the Motown Sound had little to do with Detroit:

“People would listen to it, and they’d say, ‘Aha, they use more bass. Or they use more drums.’ Bullshit. When we were first successful with it, people were coming from Germany, France, Italy, Mobile, Alabama. From New York, Chicago, California. From everywhere. Just to record in Detroit. They figured it was in the air, that if they came to Detroit and recorded on the freeway, they’d get the Motown sound. Listen, the Motown sound to me is not an audible sound. It’s spiritual, and it comes from the people that make it happen. What other people didn’t realize is that we just had one studio there, but we recorded in ChicagoNashville, New York, L.A.—almost every big city. And we still got the sound.”

DJ Motown Mix with Rhode Island Wedding DJ Stevie Wonder

The Motown Museum

“Despite the passage of time since Motown Records’ establishment in 1959 by Berry Gordy, tens of thousands of visitors pass through Hitsville U.S.A., home to the Motown Museum, each year. Their presence is a testimony to Motown’s legacy and to the charisma, talent and staying power of the music and those who made it.

The Motown Museum, which was founded by Esther Gordy Edwards in 1985, is one of Southeast Michigan’s most popular tourist destinations. Visitors come from across America and throughout the world to stand in Studio A, where their favorite artists and groups recorded much-loved music, and to view the restored upper flat where Berry Gordy lived with his young family during the company’s earliest days.” The Motown Museum

Motown: The Musical

MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL is the real story of the one-of-a-kind sound that hit the airwaves in 1959 and changed our culture forever. This exhilarating show charts Motown founder Berry Gordy’s incredible journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and so many more.

DJ Motown Mix with Rhode Island Wedding DJ

Featuring all the classics you love, MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL tells the story behind the hits as Diana, Smokey, Berry and the whole Motown family fight against the odds to create the soundtrack that changed America. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat. Now, it finally comes to the Broadway stage in the world premiere of MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL.

Motown Celebrating 50 Years!

If you would like a copy of the DJ Motown Mix, I invite you to write me and I will send you a copy free!

DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & Boston DJ


Marvin Gaye Born Today, Died Yesterday

There are few musicians that have held my attention and appreciation from childhood, teens, college, adulthood and today, Marvin Gaye is one of them. His sweet music, soulful lyrics and need to grow and experiment still impress me today. In some respects, he is a professional DJ dream artist because his music crosses so many genres and demographics to reach diverse audiences and environments. His activism for equality, poverty, politics, discrimination, war and the environments as well as his own bout with drug addiction, were pioneering, especially for a Person of Color producing many Billboard Hits at that time. Like Stevie Wonder, he was able to integrate political and socially conscious messages into Pop and Dance songs like few others have or can. I have missed him since his death and am reminded of this today, the anniversary of his birth and yesterday being the memorial of his death.

‘I think I’ve got a real thing going. I love people. I love life and I love nature, and I can’t see why other people can’t be like that.’  Marvin Gaye


Marvin Gaye What’s Going On Music Video

The Marvin Gaye  Story

“Marvin Gaye (April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984), born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr., was an American singer-songwriter and musician. Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown Records in the 1960s with a string of hits including “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and duet recordings with Mary Wells and Tammi Terrell, later earning the titles, “Prince of Motown” and “Prince of Soul”. During the 1970s, Gaye recorded the concept albums What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On and became among the first artists in Motown to break away from the reins of its production company. Gaye’s later recordings influenced several R&B subgenres such as quiet storm and neo-soul. Following a period in Europe under a tax exile in the early1980s, Gaye released the 1982 Grammy Award-winning hit, “Sexual Healing” and the Midnight Love album. Following his death in 1984, Gaye has been posthumously honored by many institutions including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

Marvin Gaye Let’s Get It On Performance on Soul Train

“As one of the pioneers of Motown, singer-songwriter and producer Marvin Gaye helped shape the sound of R & B music and is considered one of the greatest artists of all time.” The Marvin Gaye Page

Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. was born to Marvin Gay, Sr., a preacher, and Alberta Gay, a housewife and schoolteacher. The middle child of three children, Marvin Gaye’s childhood can be characterized by developing an early love of music in the face of an abusive relationship with his father. Marvin Gaye’s introduction to music began by singing in his father’s church choir when he was only three years old. He expanded his musical abilities by learning how to play the piano and drums. To escape the repeated beatings he endured at the hands of his father, Marvin Gaye dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Air Force.

Marvin Gaye Let’s Get It On Music Video

Never losing his love of music, he began singing in doo-wop groups when he was honorably discharged from the Air Force. He joined a local Washington D.C. band, and their song, “Wyatt Earp”, recorded with Okeh Records, led to an invitation to join Harvey Fuqua’s group, The Moonglows, in 1958. The group moved to Chicago and began recording for Chess Records. Marvin Gaye then caught the attention of Barry Gordy Jr. during a Motown Christmas party where Gaye played the piano. Gordy signed him to Motown Records in 1961.

The great Marvin Gaye on Motown Records with Rhode Island DJ
Gaye’s career began slowly with Motown, working as a session drummer while trying to build a solo career. He played drums with such artists as The Miracles, The Contours, and Martha and the Vandellas.

Marvin Gaye Sexual Healing Music Video

With the release of 1969’s “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” and “That’s the Way Love Is”, Gaye became increasingly frustrated with the type of music he was making with Motown, even though his songs kept making the charts. He wanted to make more socially relevant music, so in 1971 What’s Going On was released; the first song Marvin Gaye produced himself. The album explored topics such as poverty, discrimination, politics, drug abuse and the environment. Barry Gordy was reluctant to release the album because he doubted its potential commercial success. Despite the reservations, What’s Going On was an instant hit and groundbreaking work in the soul music genre.

Marvin Gaye Mercy Mercy Me Live at Montreaux

The last two years of Marvin Gaye’s life were filled with a combination of successful music and increasing drug problems. He signed with Columbia Records in 1982 and released Midnight Love. It included the hit “Sexual Healing” which earned him his only Grammy Award and topped the charts in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Then in 1983 he reconciled with Barry Gordy on a televised appearance celebrating Motown’s 50th anniversary. His last public appearance was in 1983 when he sang his memorable rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the NBA All-Star game.

Marvin Gaye Got to Give It Up

Cocaine addiction forced Marvin Gaye to move in with his parents to try to straighten out his life. His strained relationship with his father, though, led him to sink even deeper into depression and thoughts of suicide. During an intense argument on April 1, 1984, Marvin Gaye was shot in the head by his father, only hours before his 45th birthday. Claiming self-defense, Marvin Gay Sr. plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered across the Pacific Ocean.

Marvin Gaye I Heard It Through The Grapevine (A Capella)

Thank you Brother Marvin for the Love, Vision and Grooves.

DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & Boston DJ


Diana Ross and The Supremes Supreme Mix

Diana Ross and The Supremes Supreme Mix. My room as a kid was cluttered with The Supremes ’45s’ with the old blue Motown label. I remember my first radio. It was a little red Panasonic plastic ball radio that only played AM. At that time, most music was still on AM so it was fine. I even brought it with me to the beach when we went down the shore. A year or so after that, I received a Panasonic hand-held cassette player as a birthday present. I used to place the cassette player next to my radio and record songs through the built-in microphone when I heard a song I liked. There were many Diana Ross and The Supremes songs that made it to tape, most of them on the medley. Of course, all of them were missing the first five seconds or so of the song since I had to wait to see what they were going to play. Glad we have moved forward in technology since then:)

Diana Ross and The Supremes Supreme Mix on Motown Records

Diana Ross and The Supremes Supreme Mix on Motown Records

I will not write about their history since the missumusicz has done an excellent job of collecting and reporting their history and that of many of the Motown artists of that period. What a career they and Diana had – true legends who set the foundation for female groups still to this day. I still get to play their music regularly as a professional Event and Wedding DJ.  A quick snapshot of Diana Ross and The Supremes commercial success; 33 of their singles reached the Billboard Top 40 in the US, 23 reached either the US orUK Top 10, and 12 of them reached the number-one position on the US pop chart with “Baby Love” also topping the UK pop chart. 12 of their albums reached the Top 10 in either the US or UK, with five of them going to number-one.

Diana Ross and The Supremes Supreme Mix Music Video

DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ

Stevie Wonder Superstition

All professional DJs have a few songs we know will work in most situations young and old, Black and White, Rock, Reggae and Hip Hop. For me, Stevie Wonder Superstition is one of the songs for me. While others from the Motown era and beyond have reached higher international acclaim, Stevie has just continued to make great music and share with us his messages of hope, peace and the struggle with a forceful beats and rhythms.


I had the opportunity to see him live as a birthday present many years ago at Radio City Music Hall. A great show from a great performer. Stevie Wonder Superstition was one of the highlights.


When I first began as a professional DJ, I used to play Stevie Wonder Superstition on ’45’ nearly every show and was always accepted well. In fact, the old ’45s’ on vinyl when played too often would get ‘burned’ and make a noise from the groove it produced from over-play when played in the beginning. This is one of the records I needed to replace due to professional DJ burn. Today, I seem to still get that same response from all audiences. While it is easier to use Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna as back-up plans; I like to use call on my old friend Stevie Wonder Superstition.


Enjoy the performance of Stevie Wonder Superstition!

DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ

Motown Great Smokey Robinson Birthday Today! Rhode Island DJ Celebrates

Growing up, Smokey Robinson was one of my favorite artists with The Miracles. I had many of their ‘45s’ and played them till they didn’t work any more from creating grooves in the vinyl from overuse. When I became a DJ in my late teens, Smokey Robinson as a solo artist became a sensation all over again.  Smokey Robinson & The Miracles solo and as a group are a DJ’s dream since there are few listeners who do not like at least one of their songs. It is common for me to be playing a classic Miracles song like, “The Tears of a Clown” or “Love Machine” at a wedding or party and have a young adult come up and ask me, “What was that incredible old skool R&B stuff you were just playing?”


Of course, I smile and share with them “It is one of my musical influences, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.” They run away excited to tell their friends about this ‘new’ artist that jams.  Before the night is through, one of their friends will come up and request another Smokey Robinson & The Miracles tune, which I will oblige willingly.

Smokey Robinson

Still to this day, one of my favorite R&B mellow songs is “Crusin”. I know that “Being With You” achieved more commercial success globally but I still like it better.


The Miracles were the original artists signed by Motown Records. “Motown founder and First President Berry Gordy Jr. said: “Without The Miracles, Motown would not be the Motown it is today”.”


In 2006, Smokey was one of the Kennedy Center honorees. The Miracles received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 20, 2009 and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on February 9th, 2012.


Thanks Smokey for sharing the miracle of your music with all of us!

Smokey Robinson


DJ Mystical Michael – Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ

Motown Fifty-One Years Later and Still Rockin’: A DJ’s Musical Journey

As a professional full-time DJ, I rarely perform at a NJ or NY wedding or event these days that does not at some point include music from Motown Records. For me this is not a problem since I have loved The Motown Sound since I listened on my little red Panasonic battery-operated portable radio as a kid.  It did not matter to me if it was The Supremes, The Jackson 5 or Stevie Wonder; I was always a Motown fan and still am today as a professional full-time DJ.


What does surprise me as a professional DJ, is who listens to Motown today. It would not catch me off-guard if it were just the folks who listen to modern R&B and Soul or even Hip Hop. That makes sense to me as a professional DJ. I could even make the connection if it was individuals who enjoy Classic Rock since they both kind of ‘grew-up’ together. What makes me stare with astonishment is when a punk-rocker or staunch Country fan requests Motown.


I wonder what music from our current generation will be the stuff that in twenty years is played to give ‘the old people’ something to dance and relate to at parties and weddings for professional DJs? Will it be Usher and Beyonce? Or Train and Maroon 5? What about Pitbull and Enrique Igleisius? Who are the stars of today that will be the dance classics of future professional DJs?


Until then we have Motown. It is fun, soulful, danceable and a bridge from the past to the present and maybe even the future.  This Saturday’s wedding will again have Motown as a primary genre to mix in with the other genres they appreciate like Punk, Rock, Oldies and Classic Soul.   I feel fortunate as a professional DJ  that I am hired by such interesting and creative couples for weddings and planners for parties. I know it is easier to just play the top hits all the time without any imagination or creativity but I get psyched at the alternative and unique choices that people choose for their weddings and special events and am grateful I can participate and contribute, especially when I can cue-up some Motown classics like “Superstition”,  “Let’s Get It On” or  “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher”.


Which are your Motown favorites?


DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ