Motown Founder Berry Gordy Retires From Showbiz at 89

Berry Gordy (Credit: Shutterstock)

Berry Gordy, who started Motown Records in the 1950s and built it into an entertainment empire, is retiring.

Gordy, 89, made the announcement on stage Sunday night at Motown’s 60th anniversary celebration in Detroit.

“I have come full circle,” he said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “It is only appropriate [to announce this] while here in Detroit, the city where my fairy tale happened with all of you.”

Gordy introduced the world to the Motown sound and chart-topping artists, including Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & the Supremes, the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and Teena Marie.

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Gordy started the label on Jan. 12, 1959, after getting a $500 loan from his family. At the time, the country was experiencing  significant racial tensions, yet Motown touched people of all races through music.

The music mogul sold the company in 1988, but remained involved with the $50-million expansion of the Motown Museum, and donated $4 million toward the project.

In recent years, he helped with a Broadway musical based on his autobiography To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown, and the Showtime documentary Hittsville: The Making of Motown. The film focuses on the birth of Motown in Detroit to its relocation to Los Angeles in the early 1970s.

Gordy told the crowd at the Motown anniversary celebration that he considered retiring for years, saying he “dreamed about it, talked about it, threatened it.”