Berry Gordy, Jr.

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Berry Gordy, Jr

Current Location:: Palm Desert, CA, United States
Birthplace: Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Pops Gordy and Bertha Ida Gordy
Ex-husband of Thelma Louise Gordy; Ray Singleton; Private and Private
Ex-partner of Private; Diana Ross and Private
Father of Private; Private; Private; Kerry Ashby Gordy; Private and 3 others
Brother of Fuller Berry Gordy; Esther E. (Ettie) Edwards; Anna Ruby Gaye; Loucye S. (Lucy) Wakefield; George Weldon Gordy, Sr and 3 others

Occupation: Entrepreneur, Record producer, Songwriter, Businessperson, Film Producer, Television producer, Musician, Music executive
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Berry Gordy, Jr.

Berry Gordy III (known professionally as Berry Gordy Jr., born November 28, 1929) is an American record executive, record producer, songwriter, film producer and television producer. He is best known as the founder of the Motown record label and its subsidiaries, which was the highest-earning African-American business for decades.

Berry Gordy, Jr. is an American record producer, and the founder of the Motown record label, as well as its many subsidiaries.

Gordy reinvested his songwriting success into producing. In 1957, he discovered The Miracles (originally known as The Matadors) and began building a portfolio of successful artists. On December 12, 1959, At Miracles leader Smokey Robinson's encouragement, Gordy borrowed an $800 loan from his family to create an R&B label called Tamla Records on December 14, 1959, which produced Marv Johnson's first hit, "Come To Me." This was picked up for national distribution by United Artists Records who also released the artist's more successful follow-up records such as "You Got What It Takes", co-produced and co-written by Gordy. Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)," after initially appearing on Tamla, charted on Gordy's sister's label Anna Records from February 1960. The Miracles' hit "Shop Around" peaked nationally at #1 on the R&B charts in late 1960 and at #2 on the Billboard pop charts on, January 16, 1961 (#1 Pop, Cash Box), and established Motown as an independent company worthy of notice. Later in 1961, The Marvelettes "Please Mr Postman" made it to the top of both charts.

In 1960, Gordy formed Motown Records as a second label, signed an unknown named Mary Wells who became the fledging label's first star with Smokey Robinson's penned hits like "You Beat Me to the Punch", "Two Lovers" and "My Guy". The Tamla and Motown labels was merged into a new company Motown Record Corporation which was incorporated on April 14, 1960.

Gordy did not cultivate white artists, although some were signed, such as Nick and the Jaguars, Chris Clark, Rare Earth, The Valadiers, Debbie Dean and Connie Haines. Kiki Dee became the first white female British singer to be signed to the Motown label. He also employed many white workers and managers at the company's headquarters, named Hitsville U.S.A., on Detroit's West Grand Boulevard. He largely promoted African-American artists but carefully controlled their public image, dress, manners and choreography for across-the-board appeal.

His gift for identifying and bringing together musical talent, along with the careful management of his artists' public image, made Motown initially a major national and then international success. Over the next decade, he signed such artists as Mary Wells, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Jimmy Ruffin, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Commodores, The Velvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5.

Gordy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999

Gordy was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1998.

Gordy delivered the commencement address at Michigan State University on May 5, 2006 and at Occidental College on May 20, 2007. He received an honorary degree from each school.

Berry Gordy was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2009.

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Berry Gordy, Jr.'s Timeline

November 28, 1929
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States
June 25, 1959
Detroit, MI, United States
March 15, 1964
Detroit, MI, United States