Berry Gordy Jr, the founder of Motown records is 90 years old this week. Here’s 10 facts about the great man:
It all started in 1959 with an $800 loan from his family, to buy a small house of which he converted the garage into a studio and the kitchen into the control room.
He is a descendent of a white farm owner from Georgia and his slave Esther Johnson.
He dropped out of High School in Detroit to pursue a featherweight boxing career before joining the U.S. Army in 1950.
The original label name was Tamla (taken from the hit Debbie Reynolds film Tammy). He then added Motown – a play on Detroit’s nickname Motor Town.
In 1957, he co-wrote Jackie Wilson’s hit Reet Petite which went to number one when re-issued in 1986, two years after Wilson’s death.
Berry has co-written 240 songs for the Motown stable which he sold, years later for $330 million.
Gordy started his own Jobete music publishing company, the name taken from the first two letters of each of his children’s names, Joy, Berry and Terry.
In 1971, Gordy moved the whole Motown business to LA. He also succeeded in getting Diana Ross the starring role in the film The Lady Sings the Blues, which he produced and gained an Oscar nomination.
Berry’s house in the Boston-Edison Historic District of Detroit is called Motown mansion.
He was honoured with a lifetime achievement at the American Music Awards in 1975. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 then received the President’s Merit Award from the Recording Academy in 2008.