Berry Gordy Biography

Berry Gordy lives the American dream

Biography and Guitar Lessons

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Berry Gordy talks about Marvin Gaye

Berry Gordy

Berry Gordy is the man behind 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, 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 songwriting.

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 ten well-known artists and bands: Jackie Wilson, Lionel Richie, Martha and The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, The Supremes, and The Temptations

That’s a pretty impressive list… Remember how Berry knew the secret to his success was the song, the tune, what people would sing and dance along to?

These are just twenty of the tunes that he released.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Tarrell),  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), Money (That’s What I Want) (Barrett Strong), My Girl (The Temptations), My Guy (Mary Wells), 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), and You Can’t Hurry Love (The Supremes).

It looks to me like his vision of a car factory’s production line, with a focus on writing songs worked out!

Berry Gordy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

Guitar Lessons

Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 1

Today we start learning Money (That’s What I Want). Written by Barry Gordy and performed by Barrett Strong.

This is an early Motown hit with an easy to recognize guitar riff that has been covered by many artists and bands since.

Go to Money (That’s What I Want) step 1.

Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 2 (Free Preview)

Before we get into all the different ways we can play Money (That’s What I Want), we need to clear something up.

We need to talk about and understand, Blues melody language. We will do that by looking to the king of scales, the Minor Pentatonic.

Go to Money (That’s What I Want) step 2.

Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 3

Today we learn the remaining two shapes of the Minor Pentatonic before we connect all five shapes.

By doing all this hard work now, when it comes to playing the solo, you won’t trip over on not knowing your shapes well enough.

Go to Money (That’s What I Want) step 3.

Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 4

In this step, you’ll learn ten ways to play the main riff. The aim is that you learn these in order to develop your own version(s) of the riff.

Should that not happen, pick your favorite version(s) from the ten.

Go to Money (That’s What I Want) step 4.

Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 5

In this step, we have lots to go through. So far, all you’ve got is a bunch of variations of the main riff, the minor pentatonic shapes, and that initial melody.

By the time you finish today, you’ll be ready to play the complete song.

Go to Money (That’s What I Want) step 5.

Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 6

To notate in TAB what I play in the video is largely counterproductive, Blues is not a style that uses notation.

The goal is not to repeat but to constantly vary the licks, to improvise, to follow the song, to be in the moment.

Go to Money (That’s What I Want) step 6.

Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 7

In the video lesson, I play the entire song in an improvised way.

I’ll give you the TAB, but please only use this as a starting point as you too should be improvising.

Go to Money (That’s What I Want) step 7.

Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 8

In this final step, we finish our study of Motown’s Record Executive (Berry Gordy) who has told us about his motivation and what he really wants: Money.

We do this as you play the entire song with a recorded live band.

Go to Money (That’s What I Want) step 8.

Related Pages

Chords and Guitar Lessons

Money (That’s What I Want) is a song written by Motown Record Executive Berry Gordy. First performed by Barrett Strong, it has since been covered by many.

As you learn this, I’ll reveal several ways you could play this song, including how to improvise a solo.

Go to Money (That’s What I Want) chords and guitar lessons.


The best things in life are free
But you can give them to the birds and bees
I need money (that’s what I want)
That’s what I want (that’s what I want)

Go to Money (That’s What I Want) lyrics.

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