Berry Gordy

From Academic Kids

Berry Gordy, Jr. (born Detroit, November 28, 1929) is an African American record producer, founder of the Motown record label and its many subsidiaries.

Gordy was the seventh of eight children born to the middle class family of Berry Gordy, Sr. and Bertha Gordy, who had relocated to Detroit from Milledgeville, Georgia in 1922. He dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade to become a professional boxer, a career he followed until 1950 when he was drafted by the United States Army for the Korean War.

After his return from Korea in 1953, he married Thelma Coleman. He developed his interest in music by writing songs and opening the 3-D Record Mart, a record store featuring jazz music. The store was unsuccessful and Gordy sought work at the Lincoln-Mercury plant, but his family connections put him in touch with Al Green, owner of the Flame Show Bar talent club, where he met Jackie Wilson. In 1957 Wilson recorded "Reet Petite," a song Gordy had co-written with his sister Gwen and Billy Davis, which became a modest hit. Wilson recorded four more songs co-written by Gordy over the next two years.

Gordy reinvested his songwriting successes into producing. In 1957 he discovered Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, and built a portfolio of successful artists. In January of 1959 founded a new R&B label called Tamla Records, which produced Marv Johnson's first hit "You Got What It Takes" as well as Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)." At Robinson's encouragement, he created Motown on December 14, 1959. The 1960 #1 hit "Shop Around" recorded by The Miracles established Motown as an independent label worthy of notice.

Unlike most producers of the time, Gordy did not cultivate Caucasian artists. He promoted African-American artists— but carefully controlled their public image, managing dress, manners, and choreography for crossover appeal. His incredible gift for identifying musical talent, along with the careful management of his artists' public image, made Motown a national success. Over the next decade he signed such artists as Mary Wells, The Supremes led by Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight and The Pips, The Commodores, The Marvelettes, Martha & the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, and The Jackson Five.

In 1968 Gordy moved to Los Angeles, California and expanded Motown's offices there. In June 1972 he relocated the entire Motown Records company to LA, and the following year he reorganized the company into Motown Industries, an entertainment conglomerate that would include record, movie, television and publishing divisions.

Gordy sold his interests in Motown records to MCA and Boston Ventures in June 1988 for $61 million. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and published an autobiography, To Be Loved, in 1994.

Gordy is the father of Rhonda Ross Kendrick, the product of a dalliance between him and singer Diana Ross, as well as Kennedy Gordy, better known as the Motown musician Gordy es:Berry Gordy nl:Berry Gordy


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