Friday, November 25, 2005

Michigan's greatest music stars

Who are Michigan's greatest music stars?

Actually, there might be more to choose from than you think.

Of course, Detroit was home to famed Motown Records, presenting the "Sound of Young America" as envisioned by founder Berry Gordy. Gordy brought us the incomparable "Little" Stevie Wonder ("I Just Called to Say I Love You"), born Steveland Morris in Saginaw. A member of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, he's recorded at least 65 hit singles, including nine at No. 1.

The Four Tops ("I Can't Help Myself") and Temptations ("My Girl") fascinated us with their vocal abilities and were rewarded with 100 chart entries and places in the Hall of Fame.

The Supremes racked up 12 No.1 singles, including "Baby Love," in a brief period with lead singer Diana Ross ("Endless Love") adding six more chart-toppers as a solo artist. Label-mates The Miracles ("Tears of a Clown") charted 46 times, while leader Smokey Robinson ("Being with You") added 25 more as a solo performer.

Don't forget two more Hall of Famers: Marvin Gaye ("I Heard it Through the Grapevine") and Martha and the Vandellas ("Dancing in the Streets"). Mary Wells responded to the Temptations with "My Girl" and more than 20 other chart entries.

Michigan has produced at least two "queens." Aretha Franklin ("Respect"), who recorded for Atlantic Records, is known-- rightly--as the Queen of Soul. Born in Memphis, but raised in Detroit, Aretha has more than 75 chart entries. Pop diva Madonna, meanwhile, is considered by some as the "Queen of Pop." Born Madonna Ciccone in Bay City, her string of hits began with "Borderline," and continues with her recent release, "Confessions on a Dance Floor." Aretha was the first woman inducted into the Hall of Fame and Madonna, with 35 Top Ten tunes, is sure to follow.

Lots of rockers sprung from Michigan roots including 2004 Hall of Famer Bob Seger ("Shakedown"), U. P. favorite Ted Nugent ("Cat Scratch Fever") and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels ("Devil with the Blue Dress On"). Tommy James ("Crimson and Clover") was born in Dayton, Ohio, but raised in downstate Niles. The late singer and Hall of Fame inductee Del Shannon ("Runaway") was born in downstate Coopersville.

Speaking of "cooper," Detroit-born rocker Vincent Furnier found fame when he changed his name to Alice Cooper and recorded "School's Out." Don't forget Grand Funk Railroad ("The Loco-motion") hailed from Flint. For a time, Mark, Don and Mel were more famous than the Beatles, or so the legend goes.

In recent years, the Grand Rapids band Verve Pipe hit the charts with "Freshmen," while Detroit's White Stripes-- a duo featuring Jack White and his ex-wife Meg-- have put five long players on the chart to the delight of their many fans.

Saginaw produced the Latino band ? and the Mysterians who hit with "96 Tears." Based in Detroit, punk rock pioneers MC5 ("Kick Out the Jams") had a trio of great albums on Elektra Records. Iggy Pop, born James Osterberg in Muskegon, and the Stooges were equally influential.

When the New Wave fad arrived later in the decade, the Romantics struck gold with their recording of "Talking in Your Sleep."

By the 1990s, hip-hop was in style and Detroit's Eminem, born Marshall Mathers, became its most famous star. He'll add another disc to his hit list when "Curtain Call" is released on Dec 6. Dearborn native Kid Rock, born Robert Ritchie, meanwhile, scored with "Picture" in 2003 and dated Pamela Anderson to top it off.

Fellow hip hop stars Insane Clown Posse also come from suburban Detroit, but--despite their millions of fans--have been voted the worst band in any genre according to Rolling Stone and Spin magazine polls. Perhaps they shouldn't be considered in any "greatest" discussion.

So, who are Michigan's greatest music stars?

You decide.

No comments: