By Jamie Coomarasamy -BBC News, Detroit

If you didn’t know it was the 50th anniversary of Motown, you would find it hard to tell from a casual drive around Detroit, the city which gave the pioneering record label its name.

There are no signs indicating that this is a year of celebration.

But Detroit has not been Motown’s headquarters since 1972, when founder Berry Gordy’s ambitions to break into Hollywood led him to relocate to Los Angeles.

He had success there, but it was nothing compared to the label’s 1960s heyday when it produced a string of hits.

Its spiritual home has remained at 2648 West Grand Boulevard, the house where the Gordy family lived and where Mr Gordy – as most Motown artists still call him – built one of the most successful empires in musical history, kickstarted by an $800 loan from his father.

Gordy decided to call the label after a nickname for Detroit. Motown – or motor town – reflected the city’s then flourishing motor industry.

“The day he started, he asked us to join him – we casually said no,” reflects Abdul “Duke” Fakir, the last surviving original member of one of Motown’s most popular bands, The Four Tops.

“We knew him, but we didn’t think a black man could have a chance in the music industry in Detroit.”

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