Berry Gordy Jr. was born on 28th November 1929 and is a record producer who became a millionaire by founding the Motown record label along with its various subsidiaries.
Gordy was successful at song writing and used the money he made from this to invest in producing. He was the person that discovered the Miracles in 1957 and since then he began to create a collection of flourishing artists. On 12th December 1959 he borrow $800 from his family and started up the R&B label which he called Tamla Records two days later. The label went on to product Marv Johnson’s first big hit “Come to me”. Gordy also co-produced and co-wrote some of his next hits such as “You Got What It Takes”. Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s what I want)” started off on Tamla and then went into the charts on Gordy’s sister label Anna Records in February 1960. “Shop around” the Miracles’ hit helped to set up Motown as a significant independent company. In 1961 “Please Mr Postman” The Marvelettes hit continued to boost the record label.
Motown Records was formed by Gordy in 1960, another label which was merged with Tamla to become the corporation the Motown Record Corporation on 14th April 1960.
He did not take on many white artists but he employed plenty of white workers and had white managers at the company’s headquarters in Detroit which was known as “Hitsville U.S.A.” The first white artist to be signed by the company was Kiki Dee. He controlled his artists’ public images to make sure that they appealed to a wide section of the general public. This led to the company becoming very successful, signing artists like Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Commodores, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and The Jackson 5.
In 1968 he expanded the Motown offices in Los Angeles as there were riots occurring in Detroit. The whole company was then relocated to LA in June 1972. In 1973 the company got reorganised into Motown Industries which included record, television, movie and publishing divisions. In the 1970s Gordy was the producer of the film “Lady Sings the Blues” which starred Diana Ross and was very successful. Gordy later went on to produce “Mahogany” and in 1985 he was the producer of “The Last Dragon”.
In the 1970s and 1980s Motown records was not as successful as it has previously been so Gordy sold his stake in the company on 28th June 1988 to MCA and Boston Ventures for $61 million. He then also went on to sell the majority of his interests in Jobete publishing concern to EMI Publishing.