Detroit in the 1960s was a hotbed of both musical and cultural clash. Legendary music scenes like Motown and the early Garage Rock movement were literally happening across the street from each other. Set against the social unrest of the time, the music community in Detroit in the mid-1960s was like no other in history.
Boom Town celebrates this diversity by telling the story of the stylistic energies that were born from the Motor City during that very special time. In Boom Town, we embark on a heavily music driven story digging deep into the Detroit scene of the era. In the process of creating this film, we have painstakingly researched thousands of hours of archival footage ranging from rare dance club, performance and concert footage, lifestyle films, rare photo stills as well as wonderful industrial films from the times. We've then woven together exclusive voice-over interviews with original musicians, fans and scene-makers from the 1960s Detroit scene. The voices of personalities like Russ Gibb, the owner of the mythical garage club Grande Ballroom, Motown session guitarist (and producer of Rodgriguez' Sugar Man) album, Dennis Coffey, and legendary concert poster artist, Gary Grimshaw, come together with many other members of the Detroit scene to tell this fascinating story. Told through a series of vignettes, Boom Town is a grooving and stomping film that captures the style and attitude of a small group of musicians that continue to influence the worlds of fashion and music to this day.
"Boom Town: Detroit in the 60s"
Voiceover, Dialog, Spoken Text, Script, or Lyrics
You are about to witness the very exciting story of a city and it's people. It will be an adventure that will open new sights in familiar surroundings. That city is Detroit.
From Michigan's motor town, a new export was added to cars. The Detroit sound.
Detroit's always been a blue collar town. The first thing that happened, of course, was Henry Ford. He started getting into mass production and so you had different cultures from everywhere, coming up to work in those assembly lines.
It's a manufacturing city. Cars didn't make Detroit, Detroit made the cars.
Detroit is just a happening city. Musically, people were working.
A lot of folks worked in the plants, and after work they wanted to go out and hear the entertainment, kind of let off some steam.
There were bars on every corner and music, you could ride down the street and hear the music coming from... it was great.
I noticed Detroit had a very unique sound. Starting around the Motown era.
The R&B scene in Detroit developed into a sound. So you had a lot of similarities and cross-stuff going on. You had the more garage types and the rockers, even the British invasion bands were so influenced by Motown. They were different sounds that people would come up with. When you're 13 and 14, you start forming bands with your friends, and we start going to these teenage night clubs.
We loved it. We each had ratted hair, it was like, we called it a bubble and it was huge.
We would wear tight jeans, striped t-shirts. We were hot.
One of the things that was very popular, what they called shackled Levi's. They'd wear 'em low. They came from the fact that the big thing with cars around Detroit was shackling. You reverse the springs so that the back of the car was very low and the front of the car was very high. So kids were shackling their pants.
Boomed into a multi-million dollar recording business, Motown Records Corporation president, Berry Gordy, Jr. says of Detroit sound...
Gospel is, is, or soul as it's called, is something that you feel from within and you do it spontaneously. And it was not something that you learn to do and it is not something that you read and you do it well. You have to have a natural feeling for it.
You know, Berry Gordy told me a couple of years ago, he said you were the first person who really understood and recognized the value in the music here. He told me, I couldn't have started Motown Records in any other city but Detroit because of the talent I found here.
The Garage movement, those bands had it hard. They first, trying to find a place to rehearse, they made a lot of noise.
Just terrific bands. The Fugitives, The Pleasure Seekers.
There's a musical culture in Detroit. The culture is musical, not racial.
Detroit is a working man's town. We're a factory town. It's the anger and the frustration of being surrounded by machines that are pounding out all around you.
I think that's how most young musicians around this area learn anyway.
When a society gets to a point where the youth are restless and you can sense it, I felt that there was a revolution.
You still have a very big music heritage in Detroit.
That's the common denominator. That's the gift the city gives to the musicians and the musicians give the music gift back to the city.
It is a gift. It is absolutely a gift.
I think it was the energy of the city at that time. The pounding out of factories, we were getting into the rhythm, you know, when you hear drums going you start getting into it. And the citizens were and the kids were. In other words, you may do it your way, but we're gonna do it our way. Thank God for that.
Welcome to Detroit
The Renaissance City
The Motown Sound
Levi's Vintage Clothing