Today would have been the 72nd birthday of Florence Ballard, one of the original members of one the most successful bands of all time, The Supremes. Her sad departure from The Supremes forms the backdrop to one of the best music books I have read in a long time. Stuart Cosgrove's Detroit '67 documents the most significant 365 days in the history of soul music, with its focus on the meltdown of Motown Records and the race riots that were engulfing Detroit at the time, all set against the backdrop of the rapidly escalating Vietnam War.
The book goes through each of the twelve months of '67 chronologically, beginning with the great snowstorm that covered detroit that year and taking in key events such as Florence Ballard's departure from The Supremes, the July riots, the duets of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, the eventual departure of the songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland from Motown and the emergence of one of the most important bands ever, the MC5. You can tell this has been a labour of love for Cosgrove and at over 600 pages it is a labour of love to read it as well. You can literally feel the tension as the story unfolds as he really gets into the heart of the issues. The book, and the themes behind it, are just as relevant today as they were back in the late 60's, with Cosgrove's keen eye on social justice shining throughout.
1967 ended in social meltdown and intense legal warfare as the complex threads that held Detroit together finally unraveled. Detroit 67 is the story of the year that changed everything and Stuart Cosgrove chronicles this turbulent year with such empathy and compassion for the characters within the book that once you pick it up you will not want to put it down. An essential music book that will be hard to beat as the best music book of 2015.