Berry Gordy lived the American dream!
Berry Gordy is the man behind the famed record label Motown, possibly the biggest contributor to American and worldwide popular culture ever.
Gordy became obsessed with songwriting already at the age of 7. This focus on the song, the tune, and what people sang and danced along to, was to become the secret behind his unrivaled success.
During the 50s, Berry struggled as he joined the army, worked in a car production plant, as well as owned and lost a jazz record shop to the new emerging R&B genre.
A determined Berry learned from his mistakes and had the vision to take the formula of the car plant and apply it to creating hits in his hit factory.
He knew songwriters made money and that the right records, with popular tunes, sold. In 1959 he created an R&B record company with the vision of a house band, a studio, different singers, and a record label all operating in the same house, just like a car production line.
This record company operated under many different names but has become known to the masses as Motown.
His legacy is so enormous it can’t just be summed up in a few words, so here’s a glimpse of what he did.
Berry Gordy discovered, signed, and released albums and singles by these twelve well-known artists and vocal groups:
- Jackie Wilson
- Lionel Richie
- Martha and The Vandellas
- Tammi Terrell
- Marvin Gaye
- Smokey Robinson
- Mary Wells
- Michael Jackson
- Stevie Wonder
- Four Tops
- The Supremes
- The Temptations
That’s a pretty impressive list… Remember how Berry knew the secret to his success was the song, the tune, and what people would sing and dance along to?
These are just 20 of the tunes that he released.
- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
- Can I Get A Witness (Marvin Gaye)
- Dancing In The Street (Martha And The Vandellas)
- Easy (The Commodores)
- Get Ready (The Temptations)
- Hello (Lionel Richie)
- I Heard It Through The Grapevine (Marvin Gaye)
- I Want You Back (Jackson 5)
- I Wish (Stevie Wonder)
- Jimmy Mack (Martha And The Vandellas)
- Master Blaster (Jammin’) (Stevie Wonder)
- My Girl (The Temptations)
- My Guy (Mary Wells)
- Nowhere To Run (Martha And The Vandellas)
- Papa Was A Rolling Stone (The Temptations)
- Reach Out (I’ll Be There) (The Four Tops)
- Superstition (Stevie Wonder)
- The Tears Of A Clown (Smokey Robinson)
- What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye)
- You Can’t Hurry Love (The Supremes)
Berry even wrote a couple of hits himself, Money (That’s What I Want) with Barrett Strong, and Do you Love Me for The Contours.
It looks to me like his vision of a car factory’s production line, really could be applied to creating timeless tunes.
Berry Gordy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Berry Gordy | Related pages
Do You Love Me
F | Bb | C | Dm |
You broke my heart, ‘cause I couldn’t dance, you didn’t even want me around.
| C N.C | N.C | C |
And now I’m back, to let you know. I can really shake ’em down.
I’ll Be There
| F | C/E | Dm Dm/C | Am |
You and I must make a pact, we must bring salvation back.
| Bbmaj7 | C11 | F C/E Dm | Dm/C Bb Am Am/G |
Where there is love, I’ll be there (I’ll be there).
Money (That’s What I Want)
| F N.C | N.C Bb C |
The best things in life are free,
| F N.C | N.C |
but you can give them to the birds and bees,
Money (That’s What I Want) chords.