The music behind the Motown stars
August 26, 2005
They played on more No. 1 records than The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley combined. They were the Motown artists behind the Motown artists – the unsung contributors to those hits by Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and the like – jazz musicians who didn’t break a sweat playing the relatively simple Motown grooves.The brilliant but anonymous studio band responsible for countless Motown records between 1959 to 1972 is now known as The Funk Brothers, and they headline tonight on the Fanny Hill stage at Snowmass. It’s the final evening of the last Massive Music & Movie weekend of the season. The free music starts at 6 p.m., followed by more from The Funk Brothers on the big Fanny Hill screen at dusk.While a few of Motown’s instrumentalists, like bassist James Jamerson, earned some measure of acclaim for their largely uncredited contributions to the label’s hits, most were unknown names outside the recording studio.That changed with Allen Slutsky’s 1989 book, “Standing in the Shadows of Motown,” and the well-received 2002 documentary of the same name.The movie, fittingly, will be shown after the concert. The swinging documentary celebrates The Funk Brothers as they power countless hit Motown songs for such stars as the Supremes, The Temptations, and Gaye. Combining reminiscences, re-enactments and clips from a recent concert, the movie outlines the history of Motown.