Gordy, Berry, Jr.

Gordy, Berry, Jr.,

1929–, African-American music-industry executive, b. Detroit. After stints in the army and as a professional boxer, Gordy opened a Detroit record store and began to write songs and produce records. He founded (1959) Motown Records, and its success made him the first African-American owner of a top recording company. Gordy transformed the company into a music empire, developing the "Motown sound," a pop-, gospel-, and rhythm-and-blues-inflected crossover version of soul that revolutionized American popular music in the 1960s. His first big hit, "Shop Around" (1961) by Smokey Robinson (with whom Gordy wrote several songs) and the Miracles, was followed by hundreds of chart-topping singles by various artists. Gordy discovered or developed many of the era's great performers—including also the Four Tops, the Temptations, Jackie Wilson, Mary Wells, Martha Reeves, Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye, Stevie WonderWonder, Stevie,
1950–, American singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, b. Saginaw, Mich., as Steveland Hardaway Judkins (changed to Steveland Hardaway Morris, 1961).
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, Michael JacksonJackson, Michael Joseph,
1958–2009, American performer, b. Gary, Ind. Jackson was an extremely successful pop singer, superb dancer, and talented composer who often conveyed an androgynous image and ambiguous sexuality.
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 and the Jackson Five, and Diana Ross and the Supremes—backing them with a talented staff of in-house songwriters, producers, and musicians. In the 1970s Gordy moved Motown to Los Angeles and began producing films, notably Lady Sings the Blues (1972) starring Diana Ross. He sold Motown in 1988, the year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Bibliography

See his autobiography (1994); V. Aronson, The History of Motown (2000); G. Posner, Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power (2003).

Gordy, Berry, Jr.

(1929–  ) record producer; born in Detroit, Mich. He began writing songs as a teenager and earned a living as a professional boxer and auto worker. In the 1950s he went to New York and sold some songs that became rhythm-and-blues hits for Jackie Wilson. Forming Motown Records in 1959, he created the "Motown sound" with such artists as Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, and the Jackson Five; his success helped to make African-American music part of the popular music industry. In 1970 he began producing films such as Lady Sings the Blues (1972). He sold Motown Records in 1988.