×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Motown Founder Berry Gordy to Retire

At the ripe old age of 89, Berry Gordy, who built Motown Records into a multimedia empire in the 1960s and 1970s, has announced his retirement.

“I have come full circle,” he said onstage during Motown’s 60th anniversary program at Orchestra Hall in Detroit, where he founded and built the label with members of his family and many artists and executives form the local community. “It is only appropriate [to announce this] while here in Detroit, the city where my fairy tale happened with all of you,” he concluded, according to the Detroit Free Press and other news outlets.

The announcement caps a celebration of Motown’s anniversary that has been going on all year, with a documentary, a Grammy special and other events observing Gordy’s enormous accomplishments with the company, which has not only shaped American culture with artists like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & the Supremes and of course Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. Inspired by the assembly-line work of Detroit’s auto industry, where Gordy worked during his youth, he and Motown’s artists and staff cranked out hit after hit from the basement studio he’d built in Motown’s headquarters in a house on West Grand Boulevard. Motown went on to become America’s largest black-owned company for many years, and that house is now a museum, which recently underwent a $50 million expansion.

Although Gordy sold the label in the late 1980s — it is now a division of Universal Music Group’s Capitol Records — and its Jobete music-publishing wing to Sony/ATV, the company retains an identity that is inextricably associated with him. Although many assumed he had long since retired, he remained involved with the company and a frequent presence at awards shows and other industry events — often well into the night.

His retirement was included in a nearly 40-minute speech that included many anecdotes, according to the Free Press, and was attended by such Motown veterans as Suzanne de Passe, who played a key role in the rise of the Jackson 5 and the label’s later years, and producer/musician Mickey Stevenson, to whom he recalled loaning his car — only to have both Stevenson and the vehicle disappear for two days. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and many others were also in attendance.

He said that he has only recently comprehended the impact that Motown’s legacy has had. “I was too busy to understand it, to appreciate it,” he said.

Gordy’s speech crowned the “Hitsville Honors” event, a three-and-a-half-hour-long show that featured performances from longtime Motown acts such as the Temptations, the Four Tops and Martha Reeves as well as younger label acts such as Big Sean, Kem and Ne-Yo.

 

More Music

  • Young ThugBillboard Hot 100, Day 2,

    Travis Scott Remix Drives Young Thug’s ‘Hot’ to No. 1 on Rolling Stone Top 100

    Driven by a remix featuring Travis Scott, Young Thug’s single “Hot” has roared to the top of the Rolling Stone Top 100 this week. The song racked up more than 20 million audio streams and 3,700 downloads. Also getting a big boost is buzzing artist Arizona Zervas, whose “Roxanne” soared to No. 6 after debuting at [...]

  • HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE

    'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' Cast Talks New Music (Watch)

    Disney has debuted a preview clip of the upcoming “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” in which the cast discusses how the music of the original movies and 2019’s tunes combine to tell a new tale. Indeed, it’s the start of something new: instead of cheering on Troy Bolton and Gabriella, a next generation [...]

  • Mick Fleetwood to Lead Concert Celebrating

    Mick Fleetwood to Lead All-Star Concert Celebrating Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green Era

    Fleetwood Mac drummer and cofounder Mick Fleetwood today announced an all-star concert honoring the group’s early years of Fleetwood Mac and its founder, Peter Green. Set for February 25 at the London Palladium, Fleetwood has enlisted a stellar cast of musicians to perform, including Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, [...]

  • Alicia Keys

    Alicia Keys, Miguel, Ozuna, Prince Royce Added to Latin Grammy Awards Lineup

    The Latin music community will be out in force for the 20th annual Latin Grammy Awards on Nov. 14. Performers scheduled include Alicia Keys, Miguel, Beto Cuevas, Residente, Calibre 50 and Prince Royce, among others. Presenters include Ángela Aguilar, Eduardo Cabra (Visitante), Sofia Carson and Emilio Estefan. A special moment with Thalia is also on [...]

  • Tyler, the Creator Slams ‘A--holes’ Who

    Tyler, the Creator Slams ‘A--holes’ Who Booed Drake at Camp Flog Gnaw

    It’s safe to say that few expected the negative reaction that Drake received during his surprise appearance at Tyler, the Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Sunday night. While a surprise headliner had been teased with question marks in the festival’s poster, many people expected Tyler’s former Odd Future bandmate [...]

  • Variety Launches New Video Series, 'Daily

    Variety Launches New Video Series, 'Daily Variety'

    Variety has launched a daily video series covering the business of entertainment. Hosted by Audrey Cleo Yap and executive produced by Eva Wong, “Daily Variety” will feature breaking news coverage and analysis from Variety’s award-winning staff as well as in-depth features and interviews with top industry professionals. Each bite-sized segment and featured clip will be [...]

  • Black Crowes Reunite, Reveal Dates for

    Black Crowes Reunite, Reveal Dates for ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ 2020 World Tour

    As rumored — and prematurely teased over the weekend — Black Crowes cofounders Chris and Rich Robinson will celebrate the 30-year anniversary of their breakthrough debut album “Shake Your Money Maker” with a world tour beginning June 17 in Austin, Texas. Tickets are on sale now. To celebrate, the band will play two intimate shows, first at the Bowery Ballroom [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content