Drummers Played a Major Part Creating Motown Music


SKF NOTE: This is part of a phone interview on May 12, 1982 with Motown’s Brian Holland. It’s important readers understand how little information existed at this time on Motown’s drummers. Their identities were not well-known. Once the principal drummers were known — Benny Benjamin, Uriel Jones, Richard “Pistol” Allen — there were no set records on who played on what song.

SKF: Do you think the drummers played a major part in the creation of Motown music?

BH: A very premier and emotional part too. I always say emotional because a couple of those guys — like Benny and Pistol — always was emotionally into it. Not like a mechanical guy just up there playing drums: “Okay. Give me a chart. I’ll play.” They was emotionally into the song. They got into it, where they really emotionally felt what you were doing. And they got into it. They were unique.

I mean, these guys today just want to get a paycheck.

It’s almost like the guy was saying on t.v. He said, “Is there anymore great baseball players?” No! He said, really there aren’t anymore really great baseball players. You can’t find no Joe DiMaggio no more. No Jackie Robinson’s. No Babe Ruth’s no more.

All these guys out there want to hit the ball for big paychecks. They’re not really in the game of baseball like them guys were back then. And I can understand that and I can relate to what he was saying.

The same thing goes for these musicians back then. Even, like, the producers. Like a Phil Spector, man. You don’t find them kind of producers who, night and day, get into it. They’re just not the same. Believe me.

Full interview

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