Watch Smokey Robinson Dissect the Beatles' Motown Connection - Rolling Stone
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See Smokey Robinson and Otis Williams Discuss the Beatles’ Motown Connection

“They were the first huge white act to admit, ‘Hey, we grew up with some black music. We love this.'”

Today, the 1983 Motown 25 concert, broadcast in prime time on NBC, is best remembered for Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. The show, however, involved much more: Host Richard Pryor introduced label legends like Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Four Tops at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, and the Jackson 5 and the Supremes both reunited.

Of course, there was even more going on behind the scenes, and the new Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever DVD set (available with one, three or six discs) is looking to excavate some of that history, adding rehearsals, roundtables and documentaries to the original footage. Above, watch a clip from one of the docs, in which Robinson, the Temptations‘ Otis Williams and author Nelson George discuss the symbiotic relationship between Motown and the Beatles.

“They were the first huge white act to admit, ‘Hey we grew up with some black music. We love this,” says Robinson.

Adds Williams: “We knocked down those barriers, and I must give credit to the Beatles. . .It seemed like at that point in time white America said, ‘OK if the Beatles are checking them out, let us check them out.'”

The concert film and the three DVD Motown 25 set are already available, and the six-disc set can be ordered here.

In This Article: Motown Records, The Beatles


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