Archives for : BERRY GORDY

A Letter from Mr Berry Gordy


Berry Gordy: On Michael Jackson





“Well it was Suzanne DePasse who grabbed me one day and she said “there’s a kids group you gotta see. They’re auditioning in the next room and we just love them, and you’re gonna love them.”

I said that “I don’t have time. If fact, I don’t like kids groups. I don’t want kids groups. I’ve got Stevie Wonder who has a major entourage.” He had his mother, he had a tutor and a chaperon. A lot of people traveled with him. So, I said no. The last thing I want is a kids group, and she said “you’ll want them!” & I said “I won’t. I won’t.” And so, she kind of [dragged] me into  the audition room. And when I saw this kid doing all this stuff, he was doing a James Brown thing and he did a twirl and a split, and then she said “you still don’t like kid groups?” and I said “no I don’t…..get my camera, get my camera!”

When they got through, I noticed he was doing his thing, on stage he was one kind of person. He was like this master!. And then when he got through, he was very quiet and almost shy. But he stared at me, the other kids would get ready for the next song, they’d be playing with the instruments, and Michael was always there staring at me, really in an innocent way, watching every move I made. And finally, I went to them and they said “Are you gonna sign us?”.

I couldn’t make up my mind because I was concerned that, here’s a kid who was about eight years old, seven or eight years old, singing a Smokey song that seemed he had been living it for thirty years, so right away we were saying “this is an old man in a kid’s body”, because he sung ‘Who’s Lovin’ You’ better than Smokey, and Smokey did a phenomenal job, but this kid was like, something…he had been here before!

And then, after singing that, he went back into a child mode. I told Suzanne “they’re gonna need something that a kid would sing”, so I just kind of came up with a melody of my own. [sings a tune of I Want You Back] I said “he should sing something like that!” Then we did [‘ABC’], ‘The Love You Save’, and ‘I’ll Be There’, and that made history because no other group, I think, before or since, had their first four records go to number one.

So it was like a major feat, and they became, like, the biggest thing. Suzanne was responsible for dressing him up and she put on him one of those little hats, and they did the Sullivan Show. He used to complain to me about his childhood and I’d say “You don’t have such a bad childhood, Michael. I mean, you’re doing what you want to do.” If people could have that thing, passion, at an early age, eight or nine, and then do it for the rest of their life…my goodness! So that was…Michael.” –Berry Gordy

The Temptations: 45th Anniversary!



Today we’re celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Temptations‘ #1 hit “I Can’t Get Next to You.”

The Supremes: Motown Monday!



(L) Mary Wells Florence (center) “Blondie” Ballard (R) and Diana Ross.

The Marvelettes: Playboy Lp



Playboy is the third album by Motown girl group, The Marvelettes, released to capitalize on their hit singles “Playboy” and “Beechwood 4-5789”, in 1962. It also includes the single “Someday, Someway” and “Forever”, a heartfelt standard that would be released the following year as the B-side of the single “Locking Up My Heart” and join the A-side on the charts. Other compositions include “Goddess of Love”, “Cry Over You”, and “Mix It Up”. George Gordy, William “Mickey” Stevens on and Marvin Gaye, who had produced “Beechwood 4-5789” all did some work on the Playboy LP as well.

Track listing
Superscript denotes lead singer: (a) Gladys Horton, (b) Wanda Young

Side 1
“Playboy” (Gladys Horton, Robert Bateman) a
“Mix It Up” a
“Beechwood 4-5789” (Marvin Gaye, George Gordy) a
“I’m Hooked” (Berry Gordy, Jr.) a
“I Think I Can Change You” (William Robinson) a

Side 2
“Forever” (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Freddie Gorman) b
“Someday, Someway” (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Freddie Gorman) a
“Goddess of Love” (Lamont Dozier) b
“You Should Know” a
“(I’ve Got To) Cry Over You” (Berry Gordy, Jr.) a

Gladys Horton – Lead and background vocals
Wanda Young – Lead and background vocals
Georgeanna Tillman – Background vocals
Katherine Anderson – Background vocals
Wyanetta “Juanita” Cowart – Background vocals
Marvin Gaye – Producer
William “Mickey” Stevenson – Producer
George Gordy – Producer
The Funk Brothers – Instrumentals

The Supremes:Throwback Thursday!


In 1967, at The Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas. Florence was sent home during this gig and Cindy Birdsong, who had been secretly rehearsing with Diana & Mary, stepped in. Florence would never return to the stage as a Supreme.

Three years later the group would record their final performance on January 14, 1970 at The Frontier Hotel. “Farewell,” a double-lp, is the rare Motown live album that is great from start to finish. Listening to it, it’s hard to believe they were barely speaking to each other at this point.

Berry Gordy & Co.


Berry Gordy Jr., Diana Ross, Berry Gordy Sr. and Billy Dee Williams  attend the Sterling Ball fund-raiser in September 1972. / Detroit Free Press

Pop Gordy: Movin’ Up

Movin’ Up: Pop Gordy Tells His Story (October 1979)
Here, in his own words, is the story of an extraordinary black American, son of a former slave, and father of Berry Gordy Jr., who founded Motown Records.
Pop Gordy’s story starts on his father’s plantation in Georgia, in an old house with enough chinks in the shingles to let in the fresh air. Whether scrapping with his brothers and sisters, fooling his momma, walking the crops with his Papa, or scufflin’ hard to make his living, Berry knew how to enjoy everything he did. When he left the South to build a new life in Detroit, he took his love of family, fun, and honest hard work with him.
Berry Gordy Sr., and his wife Bertha Fuller Gordy, arrived in Detroit from Georgia in 1922. Starting with odd jobs and later a small grocery store, Berry “Pop” Gordy established a succession of businesses, including a prosperous construction business. In the mid-1960’s, his son Berry, Jr., bought the business, fired his father, and immediately hired him to an executive position at the Motown Record Corporation.
A churchgoing family, Mr. and Mrs. Gordy at first affiliated with The Church of God in Christ, and later became members of Bethel A.M.E. Church, for which Mr. Gordy served as trustee. Pop Gordy credited hard work in part for his longevity and, until his death, was working as a consultant to Motown Records.
Completed before his death at the age of ninety in November 1978, Berry Gordy’s memoirs tell how he taught his family to make it in a white world—the lessons he learned from his father, his elders, and life itself. It’s warm, anecdotal style will draw readers of all ages to the story of this lovable man.


Stevie Wonder: This Day In Music

This day in music Stevie Wonder released his first album, “The 12 Year Old Genius.” It would become Motown’s first #1  in 1963!

Motown Revue: UK EDITION

Jack Ashford with Motown artists' first group tour in the UK

Jack Ashford with Motown artists’ first group tour in the UK

Rick James: SouL Train


Stevie Wonder: This Day In Music



On This Day In Music: In 1971, On his twenty-first birthday Stevie Wonder received his childhood earnings. He received $1 million.

In addition, Stevie Wonder independently recorded two albums, which he used as a bargaining tool while negotiating with Motown. Eventually the label agreed to his demands for full creative control (at that time the only artists to have that) and the rights to his own songs.

The 120-page contract was a precedent at Motown and gave Wonder a much higher royalty rate and a stipulation that stated, if Motown was to ever be sold that he gets to keep his publishing’s and he would have to approve the buyers). Stevie Wonder is one of the only artists that never recorded for anyone but Motown.

Motown Records:Hits Ville USA


2648 West Grand Blvd Detroit MI,  48208

2648 West Grand Blvd Detroit MI, 48208

Despite the passage of time since Motown Records’ establishment in 1959 by Berry Gordy, tens of thousands of visitors pass through Hitsville U.S.A., home to the Motown Museum, each year. Their presence is a testimony to Motown’s legacy and to the charisma, talent and staying power of the music and those who made it.The Motown Museum, which was founded by Esther Gordy Edwards in 1985, is one of Southeast Michigan’s most popular tourist destinations. Visitors come from across America and throughout the world to stand in Studio A, where their favorite artists and groups recorded much-loved music, and to view the restored upper flat where Berry Gordy lived with his young family during the company’s earliest days.

Home to an extensive array of Motown artifacts, photographs and other memorabilia, the Museum’s mission, which is presented below, is to preserve the legacy of Motown Record Company and to educate and motivate people, especially youth.

A nonprofit 501c(3), the Motown Museum tells the story of how a man’s vision turned into one of the largest, most successful record companies of all time and how the music—the Motown Sound —captured the hearts of young people, not only in America, but across the globe.

Motown Museum Mission: To preserve the history and legacy of Motown Records Corporation through the conservation of Motown’s original site on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. To educate and motivate people, especially youth, through exhibitions and programs that promote the values of vision, creativity and entrepreneurship. To build awareness of the global impact of Motown and its artistic contributions to entertainment.

This Day In R&B Music History


This Day In R&B Music History: On April 23, 1971 The Number One cut on the R&B Chart was “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye (5 weeks at #1).

Diana Ross: 50th Anniversary (1964-2014)



Documentary celebrating the career of Motown legend Ms. Diana Ross 50th Anniversary in the music business!

Teena Marie: Wild and Peaceful 35th Anniversary!


35 years ago today, Wild And Peaceful was released and the world was officially introduced to Teena Marie.

Wild and Peaceful is the debut album by  Teena Marie, released in 1979 on Motown and featuring significant contributions from Rick James. He provided co-vocals on “I’m a Sucker for Your Love”.

Wild and Peaceful peaked at #18 on the Black Albums chart and #94 on the Billboard Chart. The lead single “I’m a Sucker for Your Love” reached #8 on the US Black Singles chart and #43 in the UK.

Motown: 25 Super Hits!


Michael Jackson: Motown 25th Anniversary!



On March 25th In 1983, Motown Records celebrated its 25 anniversary with a concert in Pasadena. Widely hailed as Michael’s breakthrough performance as a solo artist, he performed “Billie Jean”, which at the time was in the middle of a seven-week run atop the Billboard Hot 100 music charts. This was also the first time he performed what would become his most famous signature move, the moonwalk. Michael’s performance at the show was unique in that he was the only artist given time to perform music that wasn’t written under the Motown label.

Michael Jackson’s concert performances of “Billie Jean” in the years since Motown 25 were always formatted on his performance on this special, from the opening pose with the fedora, black sequin jacket and glove, to the moonwalk routine in the song’s bridge.

Michael Jackson: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

michael jackson rock roll of fame michael jackson (7)


Today in 2001, Michael Jackson was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist.

Smokey VS. Claudette




Soul icon Smokey Robinson is suing his ex-wife Claudette Rogers Robinson to prevent her from profiting from songs he wrote during their 27-year marriage.

The veteran singer is reclaiming the rights to tracks penned before 1978 from bosses at Jobete Music Co. under the copyright termination law, which allows musicians to recover control of their tunes after 35 years.

However, he wants a judge to make it clear that his former The Miracles bandmate Rogers Robinson, who he divorced in 1986, will not be entitled to 50 per cent of any future income the tracks generate, after she demanded half of all interest, royalties and advances from the songs in question, citing California’s community property law.

The legendary musician insists his ex’s claims are “incorrect” and is seeking a declaratory judgement to terminate and “recapture” the copyrights to tunes he wrote and co-wrote for The Miracles and The Temptations, such as My Girl, Tears of a Clown, You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me and Get Ready, as well as hits he helped create for other Motown artists early on in his career, like Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells and Brenda Holloway.

In legal papers filed in Federal Court in California, the 74 year old’s lawyers write, “Defendant did not write any part of the musical compositions at issue. Plaintiff wrote them during the parties’ marriage, which ended in 1986…

“(The) 1976 Copyright Act expressly provides that these ‘recaptured’ copyrights belong to the author alone, which is plaintiff. Moreover, the 1976 Copyright Act precludes any transfer of those copyrights before the terminations themselves are effective. Thus, any transfer of such rights to any third party, whether defendant or a music publisher, was barred by the 1976 Copyright Act, and is therefore null and void.”

Robinson, who has two children with his first wife, wed his current spouse, Frances, in 2004

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