The D In The 1970’s

During the 1960s and 1970s, Detroit rockers Mitch Ryder and Bob Seger, both known for their deep and soulful vocal styles, helped establish metro Detroit as the home for rock innovation. With enthusiastic crowds filing the venues throughout the region, Detroit became a key stop on nearly every national rock and roll tour and helped inspire a generation of Detroit rockers.

“What’s Going On” – inspired by the civil unrest surrounding the Vietnam War and the police brutality directed at anti-war protestors, Motown songwriter Al Cleveland and Four Tops singer Renaldo “Obie” Benson penned a moody, soulful song to capture the confusion and tension of the early 1970s. Cleveland and Benson presented the song to artist Marvin Gaye, who added his own masterful touches to the composition and recorded the song at the Hitsville USA studios at Motown Records headquarters. Despite Berry Gordy, Jr’s initial dislike of the song, “What’s Going On” and the album of the same name went on to become a critical and commercial success.  

“War” – Written for and originally recorded by the Temptations, the anti-Vietnam protest song was deemed too controversial for one of Motown’s signature acts, so little-known Motown singer Edwin Starr volunteered to re-record the song. Starr’s version reached number one on the Billboard pop chart in August 1970 and is regarded as one of the most important protest songs of all time. The soulful and intense lyrics combined with heavily syncopated rhythm to produce a song that became an anthem of the anti-war movement during the early 1970s.

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