Standing in the Shadows of Motown is a 2002 documentary film directed by Paul Justman.1 It recounts the story of The Funk Brothers, the un-credited and largely unheralded studio musicians who were the hand-picked house band by Berry Gordy in 1959. They were the band who recorded and performed on Motowns' recordings from 1959 to 1972.
The film was inspired by the 1989 book Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson, a bass guitar instruction book by Allan Slutsky, which features the bass lines of James Jamerson.
The Funk Brothers produced more hits than The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Beach Boys together. It was their sound, according to Mary Wilson of The Supremes that backed The Temptations, The Supremes, The Miracles, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, amongst other noteworthy bands during their tenure from 1959 to 1973.2 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Wikipedia, and 2NITV, 9:30-11:30, 29/6/'14.
I watched this doco on a cold
winter night in Tasmania some
55 years after this hand-picked
houseband, Motown, formed in1
'59, the same year that Twilight
Zone was released and the same
year I joined the Baha'i Faith, &
won the most valuable player in
the midget Burlington baseball.
In 1973 they moved to LA and
I moved to the Barossa Valley
and Motown came to an end,
as did my first marriage back
in some other time zone, some
other life, seems like some other
person. You boys are getting the
recognition you deserve at last
even if some of you have gone
into that hole where no music is
played....Of course who knows?
Maybe you can all keep playing
in that land of light from which
no man returns, perhaps heaven
will have pleased it so,3 and who
knows what dreams may come.4
I knew nothing of Motown back
then in those 14 years when I, too,
had my first demons, recognition
was slowly evolving, and I played
my own back-up music for a new
religion that would take the world
by storm and, in time, get its own
standing ovation as you did in TO.5
1 This doco, the last great un-mined musical story of the '60s, has finally shone the spotlight on this colorful cast of characters who toiled in "the Snake-pit" of Berry Gordy's hit factory at 2648 West Grand Blvd. in Detroit. They all reunited to promote the film.
2 Steve Jones, "Motown's Funk Brothers cast long Shadows," USA Today, 12/5/'02.
3 Shakespeare, Hamlet, III, 4, line 174. 4 ibid., III, 1, line 66.
5 The Baha'i Faith....The film got a 7 minute standing ovation when it was screened at the TO, Toronto Film Festival in September 2002.