Berry Gordy Jr.
Ahmet Ertegun Award
Berry Gordy Jr. built an empire and a whole new sound from the ground up.
With his unerring ear for infectious chart-toppers, Gordy Jr. blazed trails through a new sonic landscape. Never again would anyone say that black pop music is niche after his reign.
Ahmet Ertegun Inducts Berry Gordy Jr.Ahmet Ertegun Inducts Berry Gordy Jr. at the 1988 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Ahmet Ertegun Inducts Berry Gordy Jr.00:02:25
Berry Gordy Jr. Acceptance Speech00:07:15
Hall of Fame Essay
What does it mean to say that Berry Gordy Jr. created Motown? It means that he is responsible for discovering some of the greatest talents in pop-music history and for many of their most memorable recordings. It means that above and beyond the contributions of individual artists, he forged the "Motown sound,” which still reverberates through pop music, film soundtracks, even television commercials; it’s titles and lyrics are a part of our vernacular.
Finally, it means that as a black American, Berry Gordy Jr. accomplished these things despite persistent and formidable barriers of race and class, rising to the ranks of entertainment-industry giants and to the leadership of the nation’s largest black-owned business enterprise.
Berry Gordy Jr. has shaped the form of popular music as we know it today.
Photography: Janet Macoska
Cleveland, Ohio 44114