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Motown Drumming

Motown music is a style within the Rhythm-&-Blues genre that originated from the Motown Records label in Detroit during the 1960s and 1970s. The “Motown sound” became famous as the label produced some of the biggest hits of the time. Some notable songs include “Ain’t No Mountain High” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and “My Girl” by The Temptations.

The house drummers at the Motown label were William “Benny” Benjamin, Richard “Pistol” Allen and Uriel Jones. These drummers helped define a drumming style that is still referenced today in modern music.

Below are a few key grooves that are synonymous with the “Motown sound”. Check out “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by The Temptations or “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” by Stevie Wonder to hear some of these Motown fills and grooves in use.

*Don't forget, you can download this sheet for free by clicking on the file below* :)


  • The snare on beat 1 of the bar can feel funny at first. Try to get comfortable with it when tackling these grooves.

  • A lot of the Motown hits were jammed live by the house band when they were recording them. Try to replicate this energy when playing these grooves at home!

Motown Grooves - Backbone Drum School
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