Berry Gordy’s Early Life
Berry Gordy Jr. was born on November 28, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan. He was the seventh of eight children born to Berry Gordy Sr. and Bertha Fuller Gordy. His father was a carpenter and part-time minister, while his mother worked as a schoolteacher.
Growing Up in Detroit
Gordy grew up in Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood, which was home to many African American families. He attended Northeastern High School, where he developed an interest in music and writing. After graduating from high school, he joined the United States Army and served for two years.
After leaving the military, Gordy returned to Detroit and began working at various jobs. He eventually found work as a songwriter for Jackie Wilson’s record label, Brunswick Records. It was during this time that he began to develop his own style of music production.
In 1959, Gordy founded Motown Records with an $800 loan from his family. The label quickly became one of the most successful independent record labels in history, launching the careers of many iconic artists such as The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Smokey Robinson.