Berry Gordy, Jr. (born November 28, 1929) is an American record producer, and songwriter. He is best known as the founder of the Motown record label, as well as its many subsidiaries.
Motown Record Corporation
Gordy reinvested the profits from his songwriting success into producing. In 1957, he discovered the Miracles (originally known as the Matadors) and began building a portfolio of successful artists. In 1959, at Miracles leader Smokey Robinson’s encouragement, Gordy borrowed $800 from his family to create R&B label Tamla Records. On January 21, 1959, “Come To Me” by Marv Johnson was issued as Tamla 101. United Artists Records picked up “Come To Me” for national distribution, as well as Johnson’s more successful follow-up records (such as “You Got What It Takes”, co-produced and co-written by Gordy). Berry’s next release was the only 45 ever issued on his Rayber label, and it featured Wade Jones with an unnamed female back-up group. The record did not sell well and is now one of the rarest issues from the Motown stable. Berry’s third release was “Bad Girl” by the Miracles, and was the first-ever release for the Motown record label. “Bad Girl” was a solid hit in 1959 after Chess Records picked it up. Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” initially appearing on Tamla and then charted on Gordy’s sister’s label, Anna Records, in February 1960. The Miracles’ hit “Shop Around” peaked at No. 1 on the national R&B charts in late 1960 and at No. 2 on the Billboard pop charts on January 16, 1961 (#1 Pop, Cash Box), which 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 signed an unknown named Mary Wells who became the fledgling label’s first star, with Smokey Robinson penning her hits “You Beat Me to the Punch”, “Two Lovers”, and “My Guy”. The Tamla and Motown labels were then merged into a new company
Motown Record Corporation, which was incorporated on April 14, 1959.
Berry Gordy House, known as Motown Mansion in Detroit’s Boston-Edison Historic District.
Gordy’s 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 the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Jimmy Ruffin, the Contours, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Commodores, the Velvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5. Though he also signed various white acts on the label, he largely promoted African-American artists but carefully controlled their public image, dress, manners and choreography for across-the-board appeal.