Berry Gordy Announces His Retirement at 89

Photo: Leon Bennett (Getty Images)

After six decades in the entertainment industry, Berry Gordy is calling it quits.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the 89-year-old music mogul made the surprise announcement on Sunday during Motown’s 60th-anniversary Hitsville Honors ceremony at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall. After accepting the Motown Legacy Award from filmmaker Lee Daniels, Gordy made the big reveal during his 35-minute acceptance speech.

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

In 1959, Gordy transformed an $800 loan from his family trust into one of the most influential record labels ever created. Motown shifted the entire paradigm of popular music and ushered in an era that introduced legendary acts like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & the Supremes, the Temptations, the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, and many more.

Though Gordy sold the record label in 1988, he never abandoned the brand he built. In 2013, he produced the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical Motown: The Musical and earlier this year lent his guidance and insight to Hitsville: The Making of Motown, Showtime’s documentary on the meteoric rise and legacy of his storied record label. But all good things must come to an end, and Gordy’s departure from the entertainment industry couldn’t come at a better time—the man who provided the soundtrack to generations of our families will turn 90 in November.

“For years I have dreamt about it, talked about it, threatened it and tried to do it,” Gordy said, according to Billboard. “In fact, this has gone on for so many years that those trying to help me retire (have) retired themselves. It is time for me to spend my 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.”

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Enjoy your retirement, Berry. You more than earned it.

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About the author

Jay Connor

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.