The Tamla Motown Appreciation Society

(by Robert Nicholls)
Tamla Moton Appreciation Society
TMAS badge courtesy of Alvaro Rubio
Sometime in 1964 I joined Dave Godin’s Tamla Motown Appreciation Society (TMAS) of the UK although I have long since lost my TMAS membership card and other insignia. The membership badge was a white pin-on disc imprinted with “Tamla Motown Appreciation Society” in large red letters with the phrase “Swinger & Friend” in a semicircle around the top. Apparently these badges are now collectors’ items because by 1965 there were no more than 300 members of TMAS. An early soul fan, Dave Godin (d. 15 October 2004) founded the TMAS and was the president. When I was a member in 1964 and 1965, I would receive regular updates on the Motor City and reports of TMAS activities through the mail. Periodically Godin would issue a magazine containing text and B&W photographs which had a bright cover and, printed in the pre-computer era, was composed of colorful geometric shapes. Occasionally we would be invited to social events at Dave Godin’s house in Bexleyheath, for example, I remember meeting Smokey Robinson’s wife, Claudette, who was an original member of the Miracles. She was not very tall but was cordial and charming. I found Dave Godin to be soft spoken and a rather unlikely looking R&B fan. Although not a Mod, he was neat and slim with a beard and spectacles and a rather mournful looking face. During 1964, he organized an important get-together for TMAS members to meet Catherine Anderson and Gladys Horton of the Marvelettes who were in Britain on a promotional tour. While music played in the background we chatted with these lovely, well-spoken ladies in their beehive hairstyles, ate from a buffet table, and met other TMAS members.

Dave Godin
Dave Godin
Dave Godin interacted with the Tamla Motown headquarters in Hitsville USA on our behalf, specifically with Margaret Phelps who was President of the Hitsville International Fan Club. Impressed by Dave Godin’s enthusiasm, Berry Gordy invited him to the USA in 1964 to meet Motown artists and Margaret Phelps helped to organize Godin’s trip. This was a major event and was reported on in detail in the TMAS newsletter including photos of Godin with various Tamla Motown stars (reproduced as the “Detroit Report” in Paolo Hewitt’s The Sharper Word, 2009). During his visit, Motown made a 45 rpm record for TMAS which we subsequently received. On this “Hitsville U.S.A. - Greetings To Tamla Motown Appreciation Society” disc, a musical background which begins and ends with the foot-tapping “Where Did Our Love Go,” and includes “Gotta Dance To Keep From Crying,” “Can I Get a Witness,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Quicksand,” “Do you Love Me (Now That I Can Dance,” “Love Me All the Way,” and others, as a setting to a greeting from Margaret Phelps who introduces Berry Gordy Jr., followed by Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Marvelettes, Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, Contours, Eddie Holland, Kim Weston, and Diana Ross and the Supremes (Diana Ross calls herself “Diane”). I don’t know if I still have the original disc in storage, but I taped it onto a cassette. This item of memorabilia has subsequently been made generally available as an MP3 sound file for downloading. The greetings text is reproduced below.

Dave Godin & Motown artists
Dave Godin & Motown artists
As a result of Dave Godin’s US trip, Motown brought the Tamla Motown Review to the UK on a major tour in 1964. Featuring their headline acts, this was the high point of my TMAS membership. We attended the show at the concert hall in Finsbury Park that later became the Rainbow Theatre. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, (Little) Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes performed, accompanied by the Earl Van Dyke Sextet. I have read recently that the tour, which surely was ahead of its time, had a disappointing audience turnout, however I think the Finsbury Park venue was well attended, but we (the TM Appreciation Society) were sitting in the front rows and I didn’t turn around to look at the audience much. At the end of the show we festooned the artists with flowers. During that period a TV spectacular was taped for later broadcast which I attended as part of the studio audience, and got to chat a little with some of the artists and obtain a few autographs. Melvin Franklin the bass singer with the Temptations impressed me with his sociability. The Temptations performed some of their early hits, they did not have many at that time and were promoting “Girl, Why You Wanna Make Me Blue?" with Eddie Kendricks singing lead. I loved Martha Reeves, she had a kind heart and more soul than most. She and the Vandellas performed “Heat Wave” and were publicizing “Nowhere to Run.” Diana Ross, of course was stunning looking and was friendly and not at all aloof. The Supremes were promoting “Stop in the Name of Love” with its legendary dance routine. Stevie Wonder was just fourteen in 1964 and was still known as Little Stevie Wonder, his latest release was “Kiss Me Baby.” Somewhere around I have the Tamla Motown show program but I can’t find it. It contains autographs and dedications from Diana Ross, Martha Reeves, Melvin of the Temptations, Stevie Wonder (Stevie's attendant guided his hand when he wrote his autograph), and others. It eats me up that I cannot currently lay my hands on it.
Rob at RSG Motown Special

I have recently been able to view the RSG Motown specials that were broadcast in 1965. It is a moving reminder of those days and not all the performances involved lip-synching either, for e.g., “Shake” by the Supremes and “Mickey’s Monkey” by the Miracles were sung live. How good it is to see the Supremes and the Miracles doing the Jerk at the end of the Mickey’s Monkey sequence. In the autumn of 1966, Dave Godin and his friend Robert Blackmore started the Soul City record shop, which was based first at Deptford in Southeast London, then at Monmouth Street in the West End. Godin came to be referred to as the “Godfather of R&B in the UK,” he coined the phrases “Deep Soul,” and gave birth to the phrase “Northern Soul.”




(Rob appears on the screen 1.27 in - as the camera moves away from Smokey and the Miracles singing Shop Around)



Text of TMAS Greetings Disc

A-side:

Margaret Phelps: Hi Tamla Motown fans and especially members of the Tamla Motown Appreciation Society, this is Margaret Phelps of the Hitsville USA fan club. Since we have been receiving many letters from you asking for information about our president, Mr. Berry Gordy, Jr., we thought we’d like to take this opportunity to have you meet him, well here he is:

Berry Gordy, Jr.: Thank you Margaret, greetings to all of you swingers and friends, this is Berry Gordy, Jr. It was a real pleasure meeting Dave and getting first hand information about the music scene over there. We over here really appreciate the sincere effort you’re making to publicize and promote our artists in Great Britain and throughout the world. I hope that one day I may have the opportunity of meeting each of you personally. Thanks a lot.

Smokey Robinson: Hi there swingers and friends, this is Smokey Robinson of the Miracles extending our greetings to all the Tamla Motown fans in England. We’re looking forward to coming over and seeing you very soon.

Stevie Wonder: Hi this is Stevie Wonder and I’d like to thank all of my fans for buying my records in Great Britain and I’d enjoy being there very much, and I’d like to thank very definitely al of my fan members in the TMAS and I’d like to say until I come over there, I just wanna have everybody to keep on saying, Yeah!

Marvin Gaye: Hello this is Marvin Gaye speaking and I’d like to say a special thanks to all of Great Britain and especially to the Tamla Motown Appreciation Society for voting me no. 2 in their poll for top artist of the year. It’s certainly appreciated. I’d like to also say that we’ll be seeing you all very very soon when we arrive there in England. Thank you so much.
Gladys Horton: Hi this is Gladys of the Marvelletes. It was such a pleasure meeting Dave today and we hope to meet all of you over in Great Britain soon.

Melvin Franklin: Hi this is Melvin Franklin and I’m speaking for all the Temptations and all the rest of the people here at Hitsville USA, and we want to say we’re grateful and very happy at all the enthusiasm that you people in Britain have been giving us and we’re looking forward to coming over and seeing you very soon. It’s a pleasure to meet Dave and if all the rest of you are as friendly as he, we just can’t wait to get there.

B-side:

Martha Reeves: Hi this is Martha of Martha and the Vandellas. I’d like to tell all of the Tamla Motown swingers and friends that I appreciate the card to the highest. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever received. It was a little early but I appreciate it because it was one of the first, and I’ll enjoy my birthday and think of each and everyone of you. Dave has been wonderful and I really appreciate meeting him and I hope to see you all soon. Bye bye.

Contours: Hi this is Billy Gordon speaking for the Contours we want to thank all of you swingers and friends of Tamla Motown for helping to make our record “Do You Love Me” a big hit in Great Britain. Keep on swinging, we hope to see you soon.

Eddie Holland: Hello swingers and friends this is Eddie Holland telling you to keep swinging and we hope that one day each and every one you will be able to visit us here at Hitsville USA.
Kim Weston: Hi there this is Kim Weston I would like to say hello to all of the Tamla Motown fans and I would like to say that I’m glad you enjoyed “Love Me All the Way” and I hope very soon I will be over there to see you. Dave has been wonderful to everybody and we have enjoyed him since he has been over here and I’m sure that we will enjoy everyone else. Bye.

Supremes [in unison]: Hi Dave, we’re the Supremes, [solo] I’m Diane, I’m Florence, and I’m Mary. We miss you very much and in our book you are a very swinging fella.


Robert Nicholls
Robert Nicholls
This work is the copyright of Robert Nicholls, Ph.D. The views expressed are purely those of the author and are not attributable to any other person or institution

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