Detroit Rock City

The local legends who defined the sound of the city
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Denis O'Regan/Getty Images; Val Wilmer/Redferns/Getty Images; CA/Redferns

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All credit to Detroit as an unparalleled music town begins, rightly so, with Motown, the little label songwriter Berry Gordy started in 1959 with $800 from his family and royalty money from "Lonely Teardrops," a big hit for "Mr. Excitement," Detroit native Jackie Wilson. Motown, of course, launched an entire youth movement with hits by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Four Tops, the Temptations, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and many others. Meanwhile, beyond Gordy's label, the city turned out other stars of soul and R&B, including Little Willie John, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, local doo-wop legends Nolan Strong and the Diablos and the great Aretha Franklin, whose father, the Rev. C. L. Franklin, was a well-known gospel-singing Baptist preacher.

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