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Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002)

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Documentary about the Funk Brothers, a group of Detroit musicians who backed up dozens of Motown artists.



(Narration), (Narration) | 1 more credit »
7 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard 'Pistol' Allen ...
Benny 'Papa Zita' Benjamin ...
Himself (archive footage)
Eddie 'Bongo' Brown ...
Himself (archive footage)
Johnny Griffith ...
James Jamerson ...
Himself (archive footage)
Uriel Jones ...
Gerald Levert ...


In 1959, Berry Gordy Jr. gathered the best musicians from Detroit's thriving jazz and blues scene to begin cutting songs for his new record company. Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on every hit from Motown's Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined - which makes them the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music. They called themselves the Funk Brothers. Forty-one years after they played their first note on a Motown record and three decades since they were all together, the Funk Brothers reunited back in Detroit to play their music and tell their unforgettable story, with the help of archival footage, still photos, narration, interviews, re-creation scenes, 20 Motown master tracks, and twelve new live performances of Motown classics with the Brothers backing up contemporary performers. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The best kept secret in the history of pop music. See more »


Documentary | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and thematic elements | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 November 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Story of the Funk Brothers  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$114,442 (USA) (15 November 2002)


$1,600,547 (USA) (21 February 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Montell JordanChaka Khan: [singing] Baby, there ain't no mountain high enough / Ain't no valley low enough / Ain't no river wide enough to keep me from getting to you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After all of the credits roll, we see a few of the Funk Brothers leaving the Snake Pit and turning off the lights. See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »


Cool Jerk
by Donald Storball
Performed by Bootsy Collins and The Funk Brothers
Bootsy Collins appears courtesy of WEA Records
Used by permission of Trio Music Co., Inc. and Alley Music Corp.
All Rights Reserved
See more »

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User Reviews

Under-appreciated National Treasures
28 December 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The mere fact that these 13 people created so much of the best of American music in virtual anonymity is reason enough to watch this movie. But the performances of those great songs...lots of them, make it a really special movie. I think they could have found some better current singers to perform with them in the concert but even Joan Osbourne can sound good with the Funk Brothers playing behind her. Maybe that's the point of the movie. Steve Jordan said it best though when he said that Deputy Dog could have sung to their tracks and made hits. And just for the record, I was kind of proud that at least 2 of the 13 were Caucasian. :-)

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