Berry Gordy Jr.

  • Year:
  • Inducted by:
    Ahmet Ertegun
  • Category:
    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. 

Hall of Fame Essay


Andrew Schwartz

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.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Program Cover 1988
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Berry Gordy Jr. has shaped the form of popular music as we know it today.
Ahmet Ertegun



Photography: Janet Macoska