Motown Founder Berry Gordy Announces He's Retiring at 89

Berry Gordy announced that he "has come full circle" and will be retiring soon. The Motown founder made the announcement during the 60th anniversary of the label in his hometown in Detroit.

As Motown turned 60, its founder Berry Gordy announced his retirement.

Gordy revealed his future plans during his speech at Motown’s 60th anniversary program at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall.

Speaking to his hometown crowd, the 89-year-old said, “I have come full circle.” He explained that there was no better place to make his announcement than in Detroit “where my fairy tale happened with all of you.”

Motown founder Berry Gordy at a fundraising celebration in Beverly Hills in November 2018. | Photo: Getty Images

Motown founder Berry Gordy at a fundraising celebration in Beverly Hills in November 2018. | Photo: Getty Images

THE MAN WHO BUILT AN ICONIC INSTITUTION

Gordy founded Motown in 1959 using an $800 starter loan from his family.  He was an up-and-coming songwriter who managed to steer his company into the biggest black-owned corporation.

He ventured into music, film, and television and produced the shiniest talents in the music industry – Diana Ross & the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, and the Jackson 5ive. 

“For years, I dreamed about it, talked about it, threatened it, and tried to do it.”

Berry Gordy with Diana Ross at the press room of the 2017 American Music Awards. | Photo: Getty Images

Berry Gordy with Diana Ross at the press room of the 2017 American Music Awards. | Photo: Getty Images

Though he sold the label in 1988 for $61 million and its song-publishing division after, he continued to contribute to Motown through a Broadway musical and a Showtime documentary. 

After six decades, Motown remains one of the most important institutions in the history of American entertainment. Meanwhile, Gordy is described in Motown Museum's website as a hitmaking songwriter who became the record label's founder, a talent developer, a visionary, and ultimately the chairman. 

“The Motown legacy remains the music we made for all people that reminds us that we are all the same, that music has no color. It gives voice to honest feelings and helps us understand each other."

Berry Gordy supporting Jackie Wilson who was honored with a star at The Hollywood Walk of Fame in September 2019. | Photo: Getty Images

Berry Gordy supporting Jackie Wilson who was honored with a star at The Hollywood Walk of Fame in September 2019. | Photo: Getty Images

HIS RETIREMENT 

Gordy turns 90 in November and admits he’s been contemplating the idea of retiring for quite some time. 

“For years, I dreamed about it, talked about it, threatened it, and tried to do it,” he said during his 40-minute speech at the end of the Hitsville Honors program. “In fact, this has gone on for so many years that those trying to help me retire (have) retired themselves.”

Gordy goes on to say that it’s time for him to spend the next 60 years “reflecting on how fortunate I am, how much I appreciate and love all of you and how wonderful my life has been, and will continue to be."

Berry Gordy smiles with his portrait in New York City in July 2016. | Photo: Getty Images

Berry Gordy smiles with his portrait in New York City in July 2016. | Photo: Getty Images

REFLECTING ON HIS LEGACY

The mega-producer was honored with the Motown Legacy award that night by director Lee Daniels. Motown legends like The Four Tops and Martha Reeds, as well as newer artists, Ne-Yo and Big Sean performed on stage during the three-and-a-half anniversary fete. 

Gordy was especially humbled by the amount of love he received from the people of Detroit describing it as “different than anything I've ever gotten in my life." He said when people ask him what the legacy of Motown means to him, only one answer comes to mind – “simply love.” He explains,

“The Motown legacy remains the music we made for all people that reminds us that we are all the same, that music has no color. It gives voice to honest feelings and helps us understand each other."

Berry Gordy at the premiere of Showtime's "Hitsville: The Making of Motown" in August 2019. | Photo: Getty Images

Berry Gordy at the premiere of Showtime's "Hitsville: The Making of Motown" in August 2019. | Photo: Getty Images

Though Gordy will be laying low soon, we’re certain his inspiration will go on in the heart of every person Motown touched. 

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