The Funk Brothers

When Motown developed, the same few writers and bands created every song written by the company that they were working for. The Funk Brothers were a band of sessions musicians in Detroit that preformed most Motown recordings between 1959 and 1972. In those years they played “more number one hits than the Beatles, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys COMBINED”. When I heard this in class and read it I simply could not believe it, it seemed unreal to me that the members of this band were statistically more popular than some of the biggest names in music history, and yet I had never before heard there name, and during the time they were recording they received little to no recognition.

In looking at the list of songs played by The Funk Brothers my childhood and high school experience would have been nothing without them. Without The Funk Brothers I wouldn’t have been able to sing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” with the student section, or hear the same 20 songs on Sirius XM 60’s on 6 every single day at work. Without a single band so much of music’s history could have been different. They played music for so many famous artists that probably don’t deserve half of the success they have. I mean if you think about it, someone else wrote the song, and played the song, all that person is doing is singing it. They had no work in the song other than opening their mouths. Imagine what music would be if we hadn’t turned it into a mass production machine. Imagine artists writing their own songs and creating their own beats, taking music back to earlier days. Part of me thinks this autonomy in music caused it to lose it’s integrity and individuality. In a case like The Funk Brothers, they were selling the basically same sound hundreds of times with different singers and no one really noticed at all until after the fact. It honestly blows my mind.


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