Hitsville U.S.A.

The streets have all changed from when I was a kid growing up in Detroit. We lived on West Philadelphia Street and I went to Cass Tech High School so I had to catch the Dexter Avenue bus to go to and come from school. On the way home, the bus would go past a little white two story building amongst the brownstones on West Grand Boulevard with a sign that read “Hitsville, USA”.

My friends and I got off the bus one day after rumors went around that it was a recording studio. We were teenage do-whoppers at the time, so the chance to see a real recording studio was compelling. We couldn’t get in, but walking to the side of the building, we could look into the basement windows. Lo and behold, there was my heart throb, Mary Wells on the mike.

That one stop on the way home from school got to be a regular occurrence in the summer as we watched several others in their recording sessions. There was Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Temptations, and then one day, we saw one of our very own schoolmates, Diana Ross. Diana was in the class ahead of me, so we really didn’t associate much except to pass greeting in the lunch room. She seemed to like the older thug like guys that went to Northeastern High School. Northeastern was where the Cass school counselors would threaten to send us if we let our overall grades drop to a “C”.

Years later, while going to college and working as a professional photographer, I had the opportunity to be hired to photograph the Temptations for their album “All Directions”. Motown never paid me for the job or my photos, but memories are priceless…