Motown Records stumbled into the Eighties from the ‘70s, looking its best hitmakers go back to the charts through other labels — Diana Ross at RCA, Marvin Gaye at Columbia, and, of the path, Michael Jackson and his brothers at Epic. Its fortunes perked up a chunk in 1982 with hits from Lionel Richie and DeBarge; however ordinary, the label became on a downhill slide from its glory days.
Then came 1983.
That year, I noticed two significant occasions: repair hobby in Motown and its peerless catalog (and fatten its bank balance) that could resonate for many years and affect how film, television, and song intersect. May 1983 saw the debut of NBC’s Emmy-winning “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever.” Thirty-four million visitors watched the show. It introduced Jackson’s moonwalk to the arena — cementing his popularity as the arena’s most prominent celeb — but it additionally had a massive impact on the legendary Motown quintet, the Temptations. The organization’s duel layout with the Four Tops became one of the show’s centerpieces, a detail the Temps and Four Tops would take on the street for decades to return. Meanwhile, the Terps’ former lead singers, David Ruffin, and Eddie Kendricks, revived their Motown hit with help from Daryl Hall & John Oates 12 months later and became a constant traveling device.