Berry Gordy, Jr - An Amazing Influence

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Published: 01st April 2009
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Almost everyone has heard of Motown Records. With great bands like The Temptations and influential singers like Diana Ross, Motown became one of the most popular and influential record companies of the 1960's. But many don't understand the true rags to riches story of the man behind the empire, Berry Gordy, Jr.

Berry, born in 1929, began a hard life in Detroit's inner city. He dreamed of leaving a positive mark on the world and had short careers both in the US Army and as a boxer. But neither of these were his dream and he soon returned to Detroit to start anew as a songwriter. Berry caught his first break in 1957, when Brunswick Records bought one of his songs called Reet Petite. This lit a fire under him and he soon ventured into independent music production with a singer by the name of Marv Johnson.

Drawing off his latest success, Berry Gordy, Jr. started his own record label, originally named Tammie which he later switched to Tamla. Tamla brought the skyrocketing success of Motown with it, with the song "Shop Around" being a huge hit. Soon, Berry was touting a label he promoted as the sound of young America. A whole new level of sophistication and artists appeared under the Motown empire including such legends as The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross. One of the most impressive statistics to Motown's success was the ratio of hit singles to single releases. That ratio was an almost unheard of 75% in its 1960's heydays. Because of Motown, black music would never be written off as a minority taste again. One man had set about crossing the racial lines in an era of tension and did it so well that he changed the voice of history forever.

Now, we are celebrating fifty years of Berry Gordy's dream. In this 50th anniversary year, we still hear the echoes of a huge influence to music today. What started as a young man and a modest name of Tamla Records has grown to become a worldwide influence that still rings through speakers today. Even after 50 years, some of his biggest artists like Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and The Temptations are still selling records by the thousands. Without the dreams of such a magnificent man and the creation of a powerful new label, we may never have been presented the opportunity to hear such amazing music.

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