Our Motown Heritage (Part 4)
Recording Snowshoes & Shovels

By Robert Dennis
The snow in winter reminds me of the early days of Motown.

In the fall of 1963, Motown was contained in three large houses on West Grand Blvd. These houses were large enough to have 3 floors, including the basement. Between the two main houses, there was a covered passageway that shielded you from the cold. The recording studio was an add-on in the back of the main building. When I went from Engineering to Shipping, there was a hall-sized passageway that was shielded on three sides.

By the end of 1964, Motown had added a fourth building that housed the mixing suite and more offices. They also had purchased Golden World Studios on Davison Avenue, about 4 miles from the main studio. The fourth house was a few doors down from the main building. To do a mix in the Winter, the engineer sometimes had to sign out the tape in the main building, put on his coat, and walk through a blizzard for a half-block. To do a session at "Studio B" (Davison Avenue), the engineer had to drive four miles though the blizzard.

All studios and mixing rooms operated 22 hours a day, shutting down for daily maintenance between 8 and 10 in the morning. So these Winter treks were made at all hours and in the coldest dead of night.

By the end of 1966, just before the company moved its offices downtown, there were 8 buildings up and down Grand Blvd. As a recording supervisor, I had to take the time cards for my employees down to "Finance" each week. This Department was a long city block (1/4 mile) down and across the street. In the dead of Winter, this was quite a walk. I suppose I could have driven, but then I would have had to dig out the car.

It seems as though there was a lot more snow and cold in the 60's. I lived a block away from Motown in these years, and I remember at least 5 occasions where the snow was knee to hip high.

When Motown moved to Woodward and the Fisher Freeway in the Summer of 1967, we were so happy to have all the departments in the same building. We also had elevators.


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