BERRY GORDY signed 1974 contract DETROIT MOTOWN BINGO LONG BASEBALL MOVIE RARE
BERRY GORDY signed 1974 contract DETROIT MOTOWN BINGO LONG BASEBALL MOVIE RARE:
AN EXCESSIVELY RARE 3 PAGE CONTRACT SIGNED BY BERRY GORDY OF MOTOWN PICTURES COMPANY, NEIL B. FISCHER VICE PRESIDENR OF MOTOWN RECORD CORP AND VICE PRESIDENT OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings is a 1976 American sports comedy film about a team of enterprising ex-Negro league baseball players in the era of racial segregation. Loosely based upon William Brashler's 1973 novel of the same name, it starred Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Richard Pryor. Directed by John Badham, the movie was produced by Berry Gordy for Motown Productions and Rob Cohen for Universal Pictures, and released by Universal on July 16, 1976. The film was a box office success, grossing $33 million on a $9 million budget. On July 16, 1976, Universal Pictures released a movie depicting just that when The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings premiered in theaters. Running almost two hours, the film, directed by John Badham – who, a year later, would gain fame directing Saturday Night Fever – and co-produced by Motown’s Berry Gordy, portrays a group of former Negro Leaguers who split from their teams in favor of barnstorming throughout the Midwestern United States. The Baseball Hall of Fame recently acquired five lobby cards from the movie, each one depicting a different scene. Lobby cards such as these, which measure 11 inches by 14 inches, are often used by production companies to promote their films, similar in nature to the more common film posters. The cards feature the movie’s major stars: Billy Dee Williams, who played the title role of Bingo Long; Richard Pryor, who played Charlie Snow, a ballplayer who desired to break into Major League Baseball however he could; and James Earl Jones, who was the team’s slugging catcher, Leon Carter. Motown Industries, the nation's largest black enterprise, increasingly presents an image of black and white management whose favorite color is green. Berry Gordy Jr., the 44‐year‐old prime mover who built the record company out of an $800 loan, luck, determination and an ability to extract talent from the desolation of the Detroit ghetto, doesn't come around much anymore. Instead he leaves to associates the day‐to‐day functioning of the business, which he owns almost outright and which he heads as chairman and chief executive ot tice. Chief among his associates are two white menMichael Roshkind, vice chairman of the hoard, and Berle Adams, executive vice president and chief operating officer. These two are directing the plans laid out by Mr. Gordy toward diversification and expansion of Motown, which had sales last year of more than $46‐million. Profits of this privately owned company have not been disclosed. But on the basis of its published revenues, Black Enterprise magazine recently ranked it as the largest black‐owned and black‐managed business in the country. Mr. Roshkind, a 50‐year‐old former television news executive and public relations practitioner, has been with Motown for nine of its 15 years. He functions as the chairman's alter ego, steering what he calls the nonroutine projects. Mr. Adams, 55, has had a long career in show business as a manager and agent. For years he was executive vice president of MCA, Inc. He joined Motown in April from the William Morris Agency. Dig deeper into the moment.Special offer: Subscribe for $1 a week.The arrival of Mr. Adams revived speculation that the company might he preparing to sell stock to the public. “It's something we've talked about here for three or four years,” says Mr. Roshkind, “and it's amazing how some of the most respected investment bankers have been courting us.” But Mr. Adams says going public “is more a possibility than an objective.” And he adds, “It won't affect anything we plan to do.” “Berry” is the answer one gets to almost any question of how Motowo got to be the largest independent record company in the world. And Mr. Gordy's inaccessibility lends a certain aura to this man, even in a town accus tomed to the elusiveness of Howard Hughes. Editors’ Picks Her High School Said She Ranked Third in Her Class. So She Went to Court. How the Religious Right Made Same-Sex Marriage a Gay Rights Crusade How the First Black Female Jockey Rode Into OblivionContinue reading the main storyIf it appears ironic to some that two white men function at the top of the most successful black enterprise, it does not to those involved. “Sure, if he had a choice between two people of equal qualifications, he would have to favor the black,” says Mr. Admas, “hut Berry really sees no color.” Something over 50 per cent of the company's 375 emNoyes are black. As for Mr. Gordy's reluctance to see the press, Mr. Aoshkind explained: “Berry's a very secure, self‐sufficient guy. He's made a lot of money. He's not seeking any publicity, and right now he just • eels his privacy is very important to him.’ The generally accepted facts about Mr. Gordy would not please a mind accustomed to orderly chronology. An approximation of the past finds Mr. Gordy graduating from high school in Detroit and then, between stints on the Ford Motor Company assembly line, working as professional featherweight iboxer and (on the side) as an aspiring songwriter. After Army service during the Korean War, Mr. Gordy returned to Detroit and concentrated on the music business. A devotee of jazz, he went broke in 1956 in his first music venture, the 3‐D Record Mart. It featured large inventory of jazz records when everybody was buying rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Mr. Gordy got the message and continued songwriting. His break came when he and his sister Gwen wrote “Lonely Tear Drops” and singing star Jackie Wilson's record of it sold more than one million copies — a gold record, as it's known in the trade. But Mr. Gordy soon found out, as he is quoted by associates, “you can go broke with hits” if somebody else is producing the records. That thought and some money borrowed from his family was the start of Motown, taking its name from Motor City. The first big hit for Motown was “Shop Around,” recorded by one of Detroit's numerous teen‐age singing groups, The Miracles. From that point, Mr. Gordy and his company were blazing a trail in the music world. He began scouring the black neighborhoods for talent. Most of the people he found —including Diana Ross, The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas and Stevie Wonder —are still under exclusive contract to Motown and recording on that label or on Tamla, Gordy, V.I.P. and Soul. Other popular groups, including the Four Tops and Gladys Knight and the Pips, are among Motown's big names who have since moved to other companies offering greater personal attention and more lucrative contracts. Motown's executives decline to discuss such things, but trade reports have it that Miss Ross has just renewed her exclusive contract with Motown for five more years. If part of Mr. Gordy's genius was in finding and developing stars, another part w‐s his ability in keeping then loyal and in popular demand over long periods. (Mr. Wonder began his Motown act billed as Little Stevie Wonder.) Jobete Music, the company's music publishing arm. The distinctive Motown sound that caught on has been attributed by Mr. Gordy to poor acoustics in the fledg‐ling company's first studios in the Detroit ghetto, and has been described by him as “rats, roaches, struggle, talent, guts and los'e.” That is how Mr. Gordy built the company. How he lives, now that he is rich, is more difficult to ascertain. Over the grounds of his massive Bel Air estate (which used to belong to Red Skelton) roam three llamas, numerous peacocks and an ostrich‐like bird called a rhea. Like most Hollywood palaces, the house has its own room for screening movies. Mr. Gordy is not part of the fancy restaurant circuit. He prefers private parties, at which 150 guests might show up. His associates say he does not live in the girlin‐every‐room fashion of Bernie Cornfeld, a neighbor, or in the publicity‐seeking style of Hugh Hefner, another neighbor. Mr. Roshkind says Mr. Gordy might stay up, all night playing backgammon (his friend Mr. Hefner shares a penchant for the game) or participating in recording sessions in a studio. However, most of the business meetings Mr. Roshkind has with his boss take place at the mansion at S o'clock in the morning. And if Mr. Roshkind speaks for his boss, Mr. Gordy is very bullish man. “There's no question that this will be a $100‐million company,” said Mr. Roshkind. “Not just because Berry says so, but because that's the way we're headed. Ultimately we may have a whole leisuretime operation.” Right now Motown Industries is the umbrella company for four operating divisions: Motown Records, the base on which the Gordy empire was built. It remains the biggest part of the business and is expanding rapidly overseas. It also is big and growing. ¶Multi‐Media, which handles personal management of entertainers. ¶Motown Productions, which has produced six television specials since 1968 and the weekly TV cartoon feature starring the Jackson Five. It also did the movie “Lady Sings the Blues,” starring Diana Ross, It was the main backer of the Broadway musical “Pippin” and has others in the works. It is in the movie business, Mr. Roshkind indicates, that much of Motown's expansion will come. “You know, Berry's a very creative businessman. But we also come on tough.” Mr. Roshkind, once Walter Winchell's broadcast news director, added in his Winchelllike tone: “Berry came to town three years ago, and in a very short time this company has made its mark in this industry.” Motown's second film, “Mahogany,” also starring Miss Ross, begins filming in September. Two other films — “Bingo Long” and “Havana” — are scheduled to start production soon after that. The company's experience with “Lady Sings the Blues” tends to bear out Mr. Roshkind's boast of great potential in movies. Paramount was committed to $2‐million in partnership with Motown in financing that movie but was unwilling to pump in more funds when Mr. Gordy decided it was necessary to do so to give the film the artistic standards he sought. So Mr. Gordy put up $2‐million to buy out Paramount's interest and financed the extra budget himself. The movie had five Academy Award nominations and has grossed more than $8.5‐million to date. “We like to have full creative control,” said Mr. Roshkind. This theme is echoed by Suzanne de Passe, the 27‐year‐old black woman who is vice president of creative operations. “We stick with our artists as they develop,” she declared. “We're only interested in artists who can stay hot for 10 years and more.” Unlike many other big‐name record labels, Motown owns its production and manufacturing facilities — again, full control. The Motown sound, performed by black artists, has always made its mark in the rhythm and blues market. But such stars as Stevie Wonder, whose records appeared first in the R & B popularity charts, eventually crossed over to lead the pop charts. Miss de Passe sees Motown developing more of what the industry calls MOR (middle‐of‐the road) and country and western performers, who also will pass over to the other charts. "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings" works so hard to be entertaining - is so determined to be funny and colorful and poignant and nostalgic all at once - that it almost succeeds in outrunning itself. It begins with a wonderful premise - a team of stars from the Negro National Baseball League walks out on their tight-fisted owners and set up shop for themselves. But then it's more willing to entertain us through the high jinx of the stars than through the intrinsic interest of the story. We feel there must have been more, and it must have run deeper, than this movie will allow. That's not to say the movie's not fun, because it is. But it's fun as a sort of superior "Let's Do It Again," when it might have been a great deal more. It shows us the outside of what it must have been like to be a young, gifted athlete, barred from the major leagues because of color. It shows us the invention, courage and humor the stars brought to their dilemma. But not more than once or twice - and then largely by implication - does it risk suggesting the absolute awfulness of sports apartheid. Maybe that's because this movie, like Bingo Long's All-Stars themselves, is determined to be a breakthrough. The industry calls it a "crossover" picture - about blacks, but made for all audiences. It's that, all right, and on its own cheerful, skillful level, it will no doubt delight large audiences. But as I sat through it, I almost began to feel like a member of one of the All-Stars' first white audiences, laughing at the cut-up antics of the players but never seeing the hurt underneath. The movie takes place in 1939, and grows out of William Brashler's sensitive, well-researched and enormously entertaining novel. It's based on the real Negro leagues, now criminally forgotten by the baseball historians - the leagues with stars like Sachel Paige and Josh Gibson (who inspire the characters played here by Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones). They were good enough to play big-league ball; indeed, history has shown that they were much more than that. But there was an unwritten color ban, and so they barnstormed the little parks on the wrong sides of the tracks. After Bingo Long (Williams), a star pitcher, is fined for trying to "foment rebellion!" in the ranks of his club, he talks Leon Carter (Jones) and other black stars into leaving the black league and forming their own barnstorming team. That works fine until the owners of the other black teams boycott the All-Stars. Then they have to play pickup games with semipro and minor-league white teams. And white audiences don't come to see their home boys defeated; they want to see the blacks put on a show. Bingo's team responds as if it's being managed by Abe Saperstein and Bill Veeck in their heydays. They bat backwards, use oversized gloves, send in a midget to play, throw firecrackers instead of baseballs and cakewalk down Main St. to advertise their games. We understand, as we're meant to, that they're Uncle Tomming to survive. What we don't quite understand is why their behavior is supposed to be as funny today as it was meant to be then.The movie's redeemed by several performances, especially by James Earl Jones as the player who's too old when the Brooklyn Dodgers finally decide to sign a black. He doesn't have much dialog on the subject, but his expressive face unmistakably displays the rage and pain he feels. Richard Pryor, as a player who studies his Spanish dictionary and wants to break into the majors as a "Cuban," is hilarious - he's often the best thing in his movies - and spends no end of time trying to figure out his (or any) batting average. But John Badham's direction is unsteady, his continuity is sometimes confused and he blows a lot of lines by having them spoken offscreen for no apparent reason. "Bingo Long" is fun, it's pleasant to watch, but it cakewalks too much on its way to the box office. Baseball and motion pictures go together just like peanuts and Cracker Jack – and even further back than when the snack pairing was first advertised in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” But while dozens of films have adopted baseball as a central theme or motif, few have sought to recapture the heady days of the Negro Leagues and African-American baseball. On July 16, 1976, Universal Pictures released a movie depicting just that when The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings premiered in theaters. Running almost two hours, the film, directed by John Badham – who, a year later, would gain fame directing Saturday Night Fever – and co-produced by Motown’s Berry Gordy, portrays a group of former Negro Leaguers who split from their teams in favor of barnstorming throughout the Midwestern United States. The Baseball Hall of Fame recently acquired five lobby cards from the movie, each one depicting a different scene. Lobby cards such as these, which measure 11 inches by 14 inches, are often used by production companies to promote their films, similar in nature to the more common film posters. The cards feature the movie’s major stars: Billy Dee Williams, who played the title role of Bingo Long; Richard Pryor, who played Charlie Snow, a ballplayer who desired to break into Major League Baseball however he could; and James Earl Jones, who was the team’s slugging catcher, Leon Carter. The film begins with black and white newsreel footage dated 15 Mar 1939, featuring Adolph Hitler, Czechoslovakian President Emil Hácha, an American man who performs unusual tricks, and Negro league baseball teams. The end credits conclude with the following written statement: "The producers wish to thank the people of the State of Georgia for their generous assistance in the making of this film." A 17 Sep 1973 Publishers Weekly news item announced that Motown purchased the rights to William Brashler’s novel and hired Billy Dee Williams for the lead. A news item in the 19 Jul 1974 DV reported that the film was budgeted for just under $3 million. Baseball stars Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Maury Wills, among others would be considered for cameo appearances. Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins had written the screenplay, and directorial candidates included George Roy Hill and Martin Ritt. Principal photography was expected to coincide with the 1975 spring training season. At the time, Motown was also discussing plans for a soundtrack album. Steven Spielberg had agreed to direct, according to 10 Jan 1975 LAT, with plans to join screenwriters Barwood and Robbins in a meeting with producer Rob Cohen, who was in Rome, Italy, working on Mahogany (1975, see entry), Motown’s second feature. The 27 Jan 1975 HR announced that Motown and Universal Pictures would co-produce the film, and that James Earl Jones had been cast in a starring role. Joel Fluellen was cast as an aging vaudevillian, according to 30 Jan 1975 DV. An announcement from Universal appearing in the 1 Apr 1975 HR reported that filming was scheduled to begin production in the state of Georgia on 23 Jun 1975 with John Badham as director. Postproduction obligations on the film Jaws (1975, see entry) were the cause for Spielberg’s departure, according to the 16 Apr 1975 DV. Bingo Long would mark the feature film debut for television director Badham. A 21 Apr 1975 Box news item reported that "tentative plans to film a major motion picture" in GA were in the works, though nothing was confirmed at the time. The name of the film was not disclosed, but it would be set in the 1930s and its subject would be a black baseball team, starring Jones and Williams. A spokesman for Columbus’s mayor Jack Mickle stated that the film would be based on the career of Satchel Paige, the famous African American pitcher. Filming would take place in Columbus, Savannah and Macon, and Governor George Busbee would make an official announcement once plans were confirmed. The film was projected as the most expensive ever to be made in the state. The 27 May 1975 Var denied that there was any connection between Satchel Paige and title character “Bingo Long,” contrary to two previous stories that appeared in the publication. The item also mentioned that filming in GA was in progress. In a 14 Sep 1975 LAT article, Paige was said to be the inspiration for Long. It also mentioned Negro League great Josh Gibson as the model for “Leon Carter,” and Charlie Grant, an African American who tried to pass as American Indian, as the inspiration for “Charlie Snow.” The 28 May 1975 Var confirmed that filming would take place primarily in Macon, GA. At a news conference the previous day, Wallace Worsley, Jr., unit production manager for Universal, made the announcement, with Macon mayor Ronnie Thompson and several members of the local Chamber of Commerce in attendance. The region was selected for its early 20th-century architecture, especially a ballpark dating to the 1930s. Filming was scheduled to begin in Macon on 30 Jun 1975, and auditions were being held for both black and white baseball players. The casting of Ted Ross, making his feature film debut, was announced in the 6 Jun 1975 DV. The Tony Award-winner had been appearing on Broadway in The Wiz. A news item in 17 Jun 1975 HR confirmed the casting of Richard Pryor. According to the item, Pryor was producer Cohen’s first choice, and the part had been written with Pryor in mind. Also joining the cast, according to 8 Jul 1975 DV, was Sam Brison, formerly of the Indianapolis Clowns baseball team; a 12 Jul 1975 LAT news item added St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox second baseman Rico Dawson; and on 25 July 1975, DV added Alvin Childress, who starred as “Amos” in the television series Amos ’n’ Andy. In a 21 Aug 1975 DV news item, former Clowns second baseman, thirty-nine-inch-tall Dero Austin, had also joined the cast. The 2 Sep 1975 HR reported that producer Cohen would make an appearance in one scene. According to an article in 13 Aug 1975 Var, Rob Cohen cast Mayor Thompson for a small role, but had to rescind the offer to avoid controversy. A 1 Sep 1975 Box article identified a group called the Concerned Citizens League, which had sent a letter of protest to Universal, stating that Thompson “has used the issue of race, in a negative way, to advance his political career.” The League had the support of 300 members of Macon’s black community, and insisted that casting Thompson as a character based on Branch Rickey, who pioneered the integration of Major League Baseball, was inappropriate. Cohen explained that he and Thompson had a good working relationship, but feared that the controversy around the mayor might hurt the production, which, according to Cohen’s estimate, had employed 5,000 to 7,000 Georgia residents. Thompson had ambitions to become a film actor and was considering legal action against Universal. A front-page story in the 10 Jul 1975 New Era announced that filming would begin in Talbotton, GA, by 23 Jul 1975, depending on the cooperation of the local government and businesses; the crew would need about ten days to prepare the town for two days of filming. Preparation would include 1930s signage, streetlights and storefronts, at no expense to the community. Along with the benefit to local businesses, several Talbotton residents would be hired as paid extras; it was projected that the film company would spend approximately $1.5 million in the region. A feature story on wardrobe designer Bernard Johnson in 9 Jul 1975 The Macon News reported that Johnson and his staff of twelve tailors and twelve seamstress produced in excess of 2,000 garments for the film. Johnson researched the fashions of 1939 as well as the lifestyles of the players and baseball uniforms of the period. Twenty-four changes of clothing were required for each of the principal actors, along with uniforms for sixteen teams. Multiple clothing changes were also needed for the club owners, the players, and the extras. Johnson also revealed that the costumes for Mabel King were created by altering contemporary plus-size formal gowns. As reported in 28 Jul 1975 Box, the company met with resistance from L. O. Benton III, a business owner in Monticello, GA. Cohen offered Benton $2,000 for the use of one of his buildings; Benton demanded $6,000, which Cohen refused to pay. On the day filming began, Benton placed a large sign in the front of the building honoring Independence Day, 1975. The crew parked a hay truck in front of the sign and proceeded with shooting. Benton admitted that he had never witnessed so much unity among the people of Monticello. A feature story from the 14 Sep 1975 LAT elaborated on the incident: Benton attempted to get an injunction against Universal, but the judge ruled against him, much to the relief of the town residents. Cohen also spoke of delays caused by frequent rainstorms, squandering roughly $100,000 of the film’s $3.8 million budget. According to the article, location filming in Georgia lasted fifty days, though it does not specify the date of completion. Production files from the AMPAS library show that an answer print had been completed on 22 Aug 1975. According to AMPAS documents and the review in the 17 Jul 1976 NYT, Bingo Long opened in New York City and Los Angeles, CA, on 16 Jul 1976. Reviews were mixed. While critics almost universally praised the cast, they often took issue with the film itself. The review in 19 Jul 1976 Newsweek made reference to the film’s “most unconscionable brand of clowning and Uncle Tomming,” but the 9 May 1976 Var review described Bingo Long as “a very happy picture,” and the 16 Jul 1976 LAT called it “an all-audience crossover attraction.” The 12 Aug 1976 Ann Arbor Sun declared, “turning black struggles into comedy is a defamation.” Billy Dee Williams anticipated the negative reviews when he explained in the 14 Sep 1975 LAT, “what people might see as Uncle Tom antics…this movie is trying to show how expedient that was, and how it was motivated.” According to the Aug 1976 Cinemaphile, a cross-promotional baseball game was played by Universal’s team, the “Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars” and Paramount Pictures’ team, the “Bad News Bears” (1976, see entry) on 15 Jun 1976 at University of Southern California’s (USC) Dedeaux Field. The event drew three thousand fans, as well as stars from both studios, but Williams and the two stars of The Bad News Bears were not in attendance. The final score was 5-5. A 1 July 1976 HR reported that newsreel footage of the game would be featured on The Mike Douglas Show that afternoon on the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) television network. According to the 2 Aug 1976 Coast, director George Roy Hill was a consultant on the film but received no credit. As reported in 16 Feb 1985 Billboard, a musical play based on Bingo Long, with music by George Fischoff, lyrics by Hy Gilbert, and book co-written by Ossie Davis, was in preparation for a Broadway opening. The show was produced by Chicago’s DreamStreet Theatre and Cabaret in Oct 1997, according to the 17 Oct 1997 Chicago Tribune. A 15 March 1939 newsreel features a story about an exhibition baseball game at Yankee Stadium between the Kansas City Monarchs and the Philadelphia Stars, Negro League teams that combine clowning on the field with remarkable athletic skill. At a St. Louis, Missouri, ballpark, the African American crowd claps their hands as they chant, “Invite Pitch! Invite Pitch!” Bingo Long, of the Ebony Aces, steps up to the pitcher’s mound, proclaiming, “Who gonna hit my Invite Pitch?” with the crowd and his teammates repeating after him. The crowd roars when Leon Carter, star batter for the Elite Giants, comes forward. After two strikes, Leon hits the ball out of the park. An extravagant gray hearse arrives outside, broadcasting an advertisement for the Sallison Potter Funeral Home through a loudspeaker. Sallison “Sallie” Potter, owner of the Ebony Aces, and his two "goons," Mack and Honey, emerge from the hearse. Inside the park, the Aces are at bat. Rainbow is at the plate, taunting the rookie pitcher on the mound. The second pitch hits Rainbow in the head, knocking him out and taking away his ability to speak. In the locker room, Sallie explains that he’s sending Rainbow home to North Carolina, and five dollars will be deducted from each player’s salary to cover the bus fare. When Bingo protests, Sallie deducts an extra five dollars from his pay for “fomenting dissension.” That night, Leon and Bingo meet at a saloon and complain about their respective team owners, comparing their situation to slavery. When Leon facetiously suggests forming their own team, Bingo retrieves Rainbow from the bus depot and breaks into Leon's room while he is in bed with his girl friend. Although she is furious, believing that Leon expects a ménage à trois, the men ignore her and convince Leon to join their new team, the Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings. In the following days, Bingo recruits the best Negro National League players, along with a lesser talent named Charlie Snow, who owns a large car. The new team assembles for a photo, posing with their two touring cars and Leon’s motorcycle, which appears on posters around St. Louis and provokes the fury of Sallie Potter. As the team drives to a game, Charlie practices speaking Spanish, trying to pass as a Cuban named Carlos Nevada in the hope of joining a major-league team. The All-Stars embark on a barnstorming tour, playing exhibition games around the Midwest. They arrive at a small-town general store, run by Mr. Holland, who insists the team parades down Main Street to attract a crowd for the game. The white residents are bemused by the parade, but the black residents greet it with enthusiasm. After the successful game, Holland offers to become the All-Stars’ agent and guarantees the team $200 per game. When Leon counters that they want fifty per cent of the "gate," Holland agrees. Money will also be put aside for emergencies, with Rainbow as treasurer. Back in St. Louis, the Negro League team owners have a meeting at the Potter Funeral Home to discuss the threat from the All-Stars. Bertha, who owns the Charcoal Kings, suggests booking exhibition games between the League teams and the All-Stars. Sallie, however, wants to ruin the All-Stars, and gets most of the owners on his side. Meanwhile, at a small-town baseball field, Bingo is approached by a country boy named Joseph Vanderbilt Calloway, Esq., who wants to be an All-Star. Bingo tells him that he should be playing for his home team, the Huskers. However, Calloway already is a member of the opposing team and he gives the All-Stars more competition than they expect. Bingo invites Calloway to join the team, nicknaming him “Esquire Joe.” Soon after, the All-Stars find that their next game has been cancelled on account of rain, even though the sky is clear. When they learn that Sallie’s goons are using money and intimidation to ostracize their team in the black community, Leon suggests that the All-Stars play minor-league white teams because the U.S. will never run out of white people. The first of these games is accompanied by taunts and epithets from both the crowd and the white players, but the All-Stars resort to clowning on the field and win both the game and the crowd’s admiration. The team continues its string of successes, building a repertoire of elaborate, crowd-pleasing routines. The Negro League owners, meantime, have a meeting in a men’s sauna; Bertha forces her way in and insists that they book some "extradition" games with the All-Stars. However, Sallie has other plans. Following a game, Sallie’s goons gang up on Rainbow and steal the team’s emergency fund. That evening, the All-Stars carouse in a tavern while Charlie is upstairs in bed with a blonde prostitute. The goons burst through the door, threatening him with a razor. Charlie runs onto the balcony and leaps into a passing car, terrifying the woman at the wheel. The following night, as the All-Stars play a team of Hassidic Jews, Charlie is attacked by the goons with a straight razor and he staggers back onto the field, covered in blood. Charlie’s surgery exhausts the team’s funds, and the All-Stars have no money for their hotel bill. As they sneak out in the early morning, the shotgun-toting hotel manager is waiting for them. He has also arranged to have Bingo’s car sold at a sheriff’s sale. The team goes to work on a potato farm to raise money to buy back the car, but Corliss, the local auto dealer, has rigged the sale in his own favor. Angry and discouraged, two of the All-Stars hitch a ride back to St. Louis, and Bingo sends Rainbow home to North Carolina. While Corliss plays cards with the sheriff and the hotel manager, Bingo sabotages the sheriff’s car and steals a 12-cylinder Packard. Leon disapproves of the theft, and he and Bingo part acrimoniously. The All-Stars continue barnstorming, now with a dwarf catcher and a one-armed first baseman added to the team. The League is desperate, so Sallie offers the Bingo Long All-Stars an exhibition game against the League All-Stars. If Bingo’s team wins, they can join the League; if they lose, all of the players have to return to their old teams at half salary. This opportunity prompts Leon’s return to the All-Stars. On the day of the game, Bingo finds Rainbow at the ballpark; another bump on the head has brought his voice back. While the game is in progress, Leon is tied up in the coffin room at Sallie’s funeral home. He hides inside a coffin and breaks out of it in front of a group of mourners. After fighting off the goons, he drives to the ballpark in Sallie’s hearse. The League is winning when Leon is at bat, so the pitcher tries to walk him, but Leon hits the ball out of the park. The All-Stars win and are admitted to the League, displacing Sallie’s Ebony Aces. Charlie, who is fully recovered, visits the locker room wearing buckskins and a Mohawk, calling himself Chief Takahoma. Esquire Joe, who had been speaking to a pair of white gentlemen outside, enters the locker room to announce that he’s been invited to join the Brooklyn Dodgers. Bingo and Leon realize that the Negro leagues are on their way out, but they still have the best team in baseball. Baseball historian Larry Lester was in Detroit on this day (November 3) in 2010 to speak on the “History of the Negro Leagues.” Authentic Americana, the subject had inspired director John Badham’s 1976 feature The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor-Kings. Tuesday, April 26, 1976 THE BINGO LONG TRAVELING ALL-STARS & MOTOR KINGS. Written by Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins. Based on the 1973 novel by William Brashler. Music by William Goldstein. Directed by John Badham. Running time: 110 minutes. Rated Mature entertainment.BY GEORGE, I THINK he's got it! Berry Gordy, the entrepreneurial genius behind Motown Records (and, by extension, behind Diana Ross) has been trying to make a name for himself in the movie business for more than five years now . In 1971, he put up the money for Ross's big screen debut. Although Ross won an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues, the film itself was an uninspired backstage drama. Strike one. Last year , Gordy made his own debut as a movie director. Again, Ross was the star, and again the film, this time called Mahogany, was a black-cast version of a tired old plot. It was the shopgirl's dream, rags to riches with the familiar moral: money can't buy happiness. Strike two. Gordy might have been making money, but his movies were strictly from hunger. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings changes all that. The story of a barnstorming baseball team, it is all new, all black and all hit. Home run! Screenwriters Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins (whose last "road" picture was 1974’s The Sugarland Express) have set their tale in the summer of 1939. The U.S. major leagues still maintain a colour line. For black baseball fans, there is the Negro National League, with franchises in places like Chicago, Atlanta, Cincinnati and St. Louis. It has its own stadiums, its own stars and its own troubles. The film introduces Ebony Aces pitching star and soon-to-be trouble-maker Barnett "Bingo" Long (Billy Dee Williams). He is playing to the crowds in St. Louis’s run-down Luther McAdoo Memorial Stadium. A 15-year veteran of the league, Bingo makes a show of pitching to his long-time rival, Elite Giants slugger Leon Carter (James Earl Jones). Off the field, the two conspire against the penny-pinching rule of the team owners, deciding to form their own all-star squad. Gordy's film, directed by TV veteran John Badham, traces their high-spirited progress against the background of a pre-war (and pre-civil rights era) America. Photographed in period style, it comes complete with visual effects straight out of the 1940s. The movie's tone of haunting nostalgia perfectly complements the dated attitudes and characterizations that are used here for comedy. Thus it is funny, rather than offensive, that the Ebony Aces owner Sallison "Sallie" Potter (Ted Ross) should be a black entrepreneur right out of Amos 'n' Andy. A funeral parlour magnate, Sallie may have a couple of goons working for him, and he may try everything short of murder to put a stop to the All-Stars, but he remains a comic character throughout. The main focus, naturally enough, is on the barnstormers, and they are a personable lot. Foremost among them is third baseman Charlie Snow (Richard Pryor), who is studying Spanish so that he can "pass" as a Cuban, and thereby join the white leagues. Charlie's dream — historically Jackie Robinson was the man who first crossed the colour line, joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941 — is not taken seriously by his teammates. They pretty much accept the status quo, and work at learning the lessons necessary for winning in their own world. One thing they learn is that, as barnstormers, they are part of show business. Another lesson is that everybody loves a clown, and that when they lace their powerhouse playing with humour (a la the Harlem Globetrotters) even losing home teams will love them. Bingo's story is full of highlights. When the owners's machinations make it difficult for them to book games with black teams, the All-Stars learn how to exploit another American resource: "white folks." It is during their first game against Southern white crackers that they learn the soothing powers of comedy. Later, following the hospitalization of Charlie Snow, Bingo sets out to steal back a car sold at sale to cover some team debts. Here, director Badham makes delightful use of vintage radio shows to provide both background and counterpoint to the action. Eventually, the dial comes to rest on an episode of The Lone Ranger, and the familiar hoofbeats of the great horse Silver keep pace with a marvelously funny chase scene. The story ends, appropriately enough, with a grudge match. The league owners field a team of their remaining, best players. The prize, should the All-Stars win, is a permanent berth in the league. Mysteriously missing from the line-up, however, is super-slugger Carter . . . With warmth, wit, and a touch of wonder, producer Gordy's film explores a corner of black experience that any audience can share. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor-Kings is a comedy with lots of heart and authentic soul. The above is a restored version of a Province review by Michael Walsh originally published in 1976. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ. Afterword: Some years ago, when the Internet was new and online magazines were testing the waters, I ran across an opinion piece that argued that baseball, with its emphasis on cooperation, appealed to socialists. Football, more aggressively focused on leaders, was the fascist’s game. The idea made sense to me, a political progressive — Canadians tend to be further left than their American cousins — who has always preferred nine innings on the field to the gridiron’s two halves. No surprise, then, that I’m also inclined to believe that baseball inspires better movies than football. That said, I was surprised to discover that Wikipedia lists significantly more pictures about (American) football — more than 175 — than baseball: about 150. The stats suggest that filmmakers prefer football. Me? I still prefer quality to quantity. My own unscientific survey is based on the reviews of six sports-themed films already posted to this Reeling Back archive. Two of them are football movies: director Roger Spottiswoode’s The Best of Times (1986) and Tony Scott’s The Last Boy Scout (1991). The first one prompted a negative review, the second got a positive notice. A 50-50 split. The baseball titles include Michael Richie’s The Bad News Bears (1976); John Sayles’s Eight Men Out (1983); Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham (1988) and Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own (1991). All four notices are positive, with the last a positive rave. So, baseball movies are best. QED. As the above review of The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars And Motor-Kings is also favourable, there’s nothing more to say. Except, of course, that when I wrote the piece some 44 years ago, I did so from the point of view of a privileged white male who was nowhere near as critical as he might have been of the casual racism prevalent in the popular culture of the day. That kid still had a lot to learn. He was right about baseball movies, though. A Bushel of Badham: Today’s five additions the Reeling Back archive celebrate the cinema of John Badham. Included are his 1976 debut feature, The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings; the 1981 drama Whose Life Is It Anyway?; the 1986 sci-fi comedy Short Circuit; the 1993 thriller Point of No Return; and the action adventure Drop Zone (1994). And, of course, there is my review of his new book, John Badham on Directing - 2nd Edition (2020). Wait, There’s More: The six John Badham features previously posted to Reeling Back are his 1979 adaptation of Dracula, as well as Blue Thunder and War Games (both 1983); Also included are the made-in-Vancouver Stakeout (1987), Bird on a Wire (1990) and Another Stakeout (1993). The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings is a 1976 American sports comedy film about a team of enterprising ex-Negro league baseball players in the era of racial segregation. Loosely based upon William Brashler's 1973 novel of the same name, it starred Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Richard Pryor. Directed by John Badham, the movie was produced by Berry Gordy for Motown Productions and Rob Cohen for Universal Pictures, and released by Universal on July 16, 1976. The film was a box office success, grossing $33 million on a $9 million budget. Contents1 Plot2 Cast3 Negro leagues tie-ins4 Production5 Reception6 Accolades7 References8 External linksPlotTired of being treated like a slave by team owner Sallison Potter (Ross), charismatic star pitcher Bingo Long (Williams) steals a bunch of Negro league players away from their teams, including catcher/slugger Leon Carter (Jones) and Charlie Snow (Pryor), a player forever scheming to break into the segregated Major League Baseball of the 1930s by masquerading as first a Cuban ("Carlos Nevada"), then a Native American ("Chief Takahoma"). They take to the road, barnstorming through small Midwestern towns, playing the local teams to make ends meet. One of the opposing players, "Esquire" Joe Calloway (Shaw), is so good that they recruit him. Bingo's team becomes so outlandishly entertaining and successful, it begins to cut into the attendance of the established Negro league teams. Finally, Bingo's nemesis Potter is forced to propose a winner-take-all game: if Bingo's team can beat a bunch of all-stars, it can join the league, but if it loses, the players will return to their old teams. Potter has two of his goons kidnap Leon prior to the game as insurance, but he escapes and is key to his side's victory. As it turns out, there is a Major League scout in the audience. After the game, he offers Esquire Joe the chance to break the color barrier; with Bingo's blessing, he accepts. Leon glumly foresees the decline of the Negro leagues as more players follow Esquire Joe's lead, but Bingo, ever the optimist, cheers him up by describing the wild promotional stunts he intends to stage to bring in the paying customers. CastBilly Dee Williams as Bingo LongJames Earl Jones as Leon CarterRichard Pryor as Charlie Snow, "Carlos Nevada" and "Chief Takahoma"Stan Shaw as "Esquire Joe" Joseph Vanderbilt CallowayTony Burton as Issac, an All-StarRico Dawson as Willie Lee Shively, an All-StarSam "Birmingham" Brison as Louis Keystone, an All-StarJophery Brown as Emory "Champ" Chambers, an All-StarLeon Wagner as Fat Sam Popper, an All-StarJohn McCurry as Walter Murchman, an All-StarDeWayne Jessie as Rainbow, the All-Stars' batboyTed Ross as Sallison Potter, Bingo's nemesis and owner of the Ebony AcesMabel King as Bertha Dewitt, another Negro leagues team ownerKen Foree as Honey, one of Potter's henchmenCarl Gordon as Mack, another one of Potter's goonsNegro leagues tie-insSome characters and situations are loosely based upon real-life people and incidents. Badham grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and was familiar with the Birmingham Black Barons, who shared Rickwood Field with the white Birmingham Barons. Bingo Long is based on former Black Baron Leroy "Satchel" Paige. Early in his career, Paige would call in his outfield while leading in the ninth inning against an amateur or semi-pro team and strike out the side. Bingo did a similar stunt in this movie. Leon Carter is a Josh Gibson-like power hitter, even playing the same position (catcher). "Esquire" Joe Calloway is an amalgam of another Black Baron, Willie Mays (in personality, talent, and fielding position) and Jackie Robinson (as being signed by a white team at the film's end). The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings were loosely based on the Indianapolis Clowns and other barnstorming Negro baseball teams, who likewise engaged in Harlem Globetrotters-like clowning routines. Production This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (February 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)Luther Williams Field in Macon, Georgia, was used for filming as the Negro leagues ballpark. Luther Williams Field was home to the Macon Music, a minor league team in the independent South Coast League. Additional ballpark scenes were shot at Morgan Field in Macon, a Pony and Colt League Youth Baseball field, Grayson Stadium in Savannah, Georgia, home of the Savannah Sand Gnats of the Class A South Atlantic League, and Wallace Field in Crawford County, Georgia. Exterior scenes set in St. Louis residential neighborhoods were also filmed in Savannah. Scenes set in rural communities were filmed in Talbotton, Georgia, and various small towns around Macon, including Monticello, Georgia. Some ballplayers were played by actual former athletes, including former members of the Indianapolis Clowns, who performed various stunts shown in the film. Steven Spielberg originally wanted to have a hand in producing the movie until the success of his film Jaws got his full attention. ReceptionThe film received positive reviews, but several critics thought it could have been better. Roger Ebert wrote that "'Bingo Long' is fun, it's pleasant to watch, but it cakewalks too much on its way to the box office." Jay Cocks agreed in his Time magazine review, stating "Although it never fulfills the richest possibilities in the raffish misadventures of a barnstorming black baseball team of the 1930s, it does come close from time to time." The movie holds an 87% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 15 critics. AccoladesThe film was nominated for the American Film Institute's 2008 AFI's 10 Top 10 in the sports film category. The scathing, brilliantly insightful African-American comic who proved himself on many occasions to be a highly competent screen actor, died of a heart attack on November 10 at his Encino, California home. He was 65. He had been reclusive for years after he publicly announced he was suffering from multiple sclerosis in 1992. He was born Richard Thomas Pryor III on December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois. By all accounts, his childhood was a difficult one. His mother was a prostitute and his grandmother ran a brothel. His father was rarely around and when he was, he would physically abuse him. From a young age, Pryor knew that humor was his weapon of choice to cut through all the swath he came across and would confront in his life. After high school, he enlisted in the Army for a two-year stint (1958-60). When he was discharged (honorably!) he concentrated on stand-up comedy and worked in a series of nightclubs before relocating to New York City in 1963. In 1964, he made his television debut when he was given a slot on the variety program On Broadway Tonight. His routine, though hardly the groundbreaking material we would witness in later years, was very well received, and in the late '60s Pryor found more television work: Toast of the Town, The Wild Wild West, The Mod Squad ; and was cast in a two movies: The Busy Body (1967) with Sid Caesar; and Wild in the Streets (1968) a cartoonish political fantasy about the internment of all American citizens over 30. Pryor's career really didn't ignite until the '70s. His stand up act became raunchier and more politically motivated as he touched on issued of race, failed relationships, drug addiction, and street crimes. His movie roles became far more captivating in the process: the piano man in Lady Sings the Blues (1972); as a wise-talking hustler in a pair of slick urban thrillers: The Mack (1973) and Uptown Saturday Night (1974); the gregarious Daddy Rich in Car Wash; his first pairing with Gene Wilder as Grover, the car thief who helps stops a runaway train in his first real box office smash Silver Streak (both 1976); and for many critics, his finest dramatic performance as a factory worker on the edge of depression in Paul Schrader's excellent working class drama Blue Collar (1978). On a personal level, his drug dependency problem worsened, and on June 9, 1980, near tragedy struck when he caught fire while free-basing cocaine. Pryor later admitted that the incident, was, in fact, a suicide attempt, and that his management company created the lie for the press in hopes of protecting him. Fortunately, Pryor had three films in the can that all achieved some level of financial success soon after his setback: another pairing with Gene Wilder in the prison comedy Stir Crazy (1980); a blisteringly funny cameo as God who flips off Andy Kaufman in the warped religious satire In God We Tru$t (1980); an a ex-con helping a social worker (Cicely Tyson) with her foster charges in Bustin' Loose (1981). He capped his recovery with Live on the Sunset Strip (1982), a first-rate documentation of the comic's genius performed in front of a raucous live audience. In 1983, Pryor signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures. For many fans and critics, this was the beginning of his downslide. His next few films: The Toy, Superman III (both 1983), and Brewster's Millions (1985) were just tiresome, mediocre comedies. Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling (1986), was his only attempt at producing, directing, and acting, and the film, which was an ambitious autobiographical account of a his life and career, was a box-office disappointment. He spent the remainder of the '80s in middling fare: Condition Critical (1987), Moving; a third pairing with Gene Wilder in See No Evil, Hear No Evil; and his only teaming with Eddie Murphy in Harlem Nights (1989). In 1986, Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system that curtailed both his personal appearances and his gift for physical comedy in his latter films. By the '90s, little was seen of Pryor, but in 1995, he made a courageous comeback on television when he guest starred on Chicago Hope as an embittered multiple sclerosis patient. His performance earned him an Emmy nomination and he was cast in a few more films: Mad Dog Time (1996), Lost Highway (1997), but his physical ailments prohibited him from performing on a regular basis. In 1998, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington gave Pryor the first Mark Twain Prize for humor. It was fitting tribute for a man who had given so much honesty and innovation in the field of comedy. Pryor is survived by his wife, Jennifer Lee; his sons Richard and Steven; and daughters Elizabeth, Rain and Renee. Motown Records is an American record label owned by the Universal Music Group. It was founded by Berry Gordy Jr. as Tamla Records on January 12, 1959, and incorporated as Motown Record Corporation on April 14, 1960. Its name, a portmanteau of motor and town, has become a nickname for Detroit, where the label was originally headquartered. Motown played an important role in the racial integration of popular music as an African American-owned label that achieved crossover success. In the 1960s, Motown and its subsidiary labels (including Tamla Motown, the brand used outside the US) were the most successful proponents of the Motown sound, a style of soul music with a mainstream pop appeal. Motown was the most successful soul music label, with a net worth of $61 million. During the 1960s, Motown achieved 79 records in the top-ten of the Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 1969. Following the events of the Detroit Riots of 1967, and the loss of key songwriting/production team Holland–Dozier–Holland that year over pay disputes, Gordy moved Motown to Los Angeles. Motown expanded into film and television production. It was an independent company until MCA Records bought it in 1988. PolyGram purchased the label from MCA in 1993, followed by MCA successor Universal Music Group, which acquired PolyGram in 1999. Motown spent much of the 2000s headquartered in New York City as a part of the UMG subsidiaries Universal Motown and Universal Motown Republic Group. From 2011 to 2014, it was a part of The Island Def Jam Music Group division of Universal Music. In 2014, however, UMG announced the dissolution of Island Def Jam, and Motown relocated back to Los Angeles to operate under the Capitol Music Group, now operating out of the Capitol Tower. In 2018, Motown was inducted into Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in a ceremony held at the Charles H. Wright Museum. Contents1History1.1Beginnings of Motown1.2West Grand Boulevard1.3Detroit: 1959–19721.4Los Angeles: 1972–19981.5Final years of the Motown label: 1999–20051.6Universal Motown: 2005–20111.7Relaunch: 2011–present2Motown Sound2.1The Funk Brothers3Artist development4Motown subsidiary labels4.1Major divisions4.2Secondary R&B labels4.3Additional genre labels4.3.1Country4.3.2Hip labels distributed by Motown4.5Miscellaneous labels associated with Motown5British (pre-Tamla Motown) labels6See also7References7.1Citations7.2Print sources8Further reading9External linksHistoryBeginnings of MotownBerry Gordy's interest in the record business began when he opened a record store called the 3D Record Mart, a shop where he hoped to "educate customers about the beauty of jazz", in Detroit, Michigan. (The Gordys were an entrepreneurial family.) Although the shop did not last very long, Gordy's interest in the music business did not fade. He frequented Detroit's downtown nightclubs, and in the Flame Show Bar he met bar manager Al Green (not the famed singer), who owned a music publishing company called Pearl Music and represented Detroit-based musician Jackie Wilson. Gordy soon became part of a group of songwriters—with his sister Gwen Gordy and Billy Davis—who wrote songs for Wilson. "Reet Petite" was their first major hit which appeared in November 1957. During the next eighteen months, Gordy helped to write six more Wilson A-sides, including "Lonely Teardrops", a peak-popular hit of 1958. Between 1957 and 1958, Gordy wrote or produced over a hundred sides for various artists, with his siblings Anna, Gwen and Robert, and other collaborators in varying combinations. The Hitsville U.S.A. Motown building, at 2648 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Motown's headquarters from 1959 to 1968, which became the Motown Historical Museum in 1985In 1957, Gordy met Smokey Robinson, who at the time was a local seventeen-year-old singer fronting a vocal harmony group called the Matadors. Gordy was interested in the doo-wop style that Robinson sang. In 1958, Gordy recorded the group's song "Got a Job" (an answer song to "Get a Job" by the Silhouettes), and released it as a single by leasing the record to a larger company outside Detroit called End Records, based in New York. The practice was common at the time for a small-time producer. "Got a Job" was the first single by Robinson's group, now called the Miracles. Gordy recorded a number of other records by forging a similar arrangement, most significantly with United Artists. In 1958, Gordy wrote and produced "Come to Me" for Marv Johnson. Seeing that the song had great crossover potential, Gordy leased it to United Artists for national distribution but also released it locally on his own startup imprint. Needing $800 to cover his end of the deal, Gordy asked his family to borrow money from a cooperative family savings account. After some debate, his family agreed, and in January 1959 “Come to Me” was released regionally on Gordy's new Tamla label. Gordy originally wanted to name the label Tammy Records, after the hit song popularized by Debbie Reynolds from the 1957 film Tammy and the Bachelor, in which Reynolds also starred. When he found the name was already in use, Berry decided on Tamla instead. In April 1959, Gordy and his sister Gwen founded Anna Records which released about two dozen singles between 1959 and 1960. The most popular was Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)", written by Gordy and a secretary named Janie Bradford, and produced by Gordy. Many of the songs distributed locally by Anna and Tamla Records were nationally distributed by Chess Records (sometimes with Anna and Tamla imprints). Gordy's relationship with Chess fostered closer dealings with Harvey Fuqua, nephew of Charlie Fuqua of the Ink Spots. Harvey Fuqua later married Gwen Gordy in 1961. Gordy looked toward creative self-sufficiency and established the publishing firm Jobete in June 1959 (incorporated in Michigan). He applied for copyrights on more than seventy songs before the end of 1959, including material used for the Miracles and Frances Burnett records, which were leased to Chess and Coral Records. The Michigan Chronicle of Detroit called Gordy an "independent producer of records," as his contributions to the city were beginning to attract notice. By that time, he was the president of Jobete, Tamla, and the music writing company Rayber. Gordy worked in various Detroit-based studios during this period to produce recordings and demos, but most prominently with United Sound Systems which was considered the best studio in town. However, producing at United Sound Systems was financially taxing and not appropriate for every job, so Gordy decided it would be more cost effective to maintain his own facility. In mid-1959, he purchased a photography studio at 2648 West Grand Boulevard and converted the main floor into a recording studio and office space. Now, rather than shopping his songs to other artists or leasing his recordings to outside companies, Gordy began using the Tamla and Motown imprints to release songs that he wrote and produced. He incorporated Motown Records in April 1960. Smokey Robinson became the vice president of the company (and later named his daughter "Tamla" and his son "Berry"). Several of Gordy's family members, including his father Berry Sr., brothers Robert and George, and sister Esther, were given key roles in the company. By the middle of the decade, Gwen and Anna Gordy had joined the label in administrative positions as well. Gordy's partner at the time (and wife from 1960–64), Raynoma Liles, also played a key role in the early days of Motown, leading the company's first session group, The Rayber Voices, and overseeing Jobete. West Grand BoulevardAlso in 1959, Gordy purchased the property that would become Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. studio. The photography studio located in the back of the property was modified into a small recording studio, and the Gordys moved into the second-floor living quarters. Within seven years, Motown would occupy seven additional neighboring houses: Hitsville U.S.A., 1959 – (ground floor) administrative office, tape library, control room, Studio A; (upper floor) Gordy living quarters (1959–62), artists and repertoire (1962–72)Jobete Publishing office, 1961 – sales, billing, collections, shipping, and public relationsBerry Gordy Jr. Enterprise, 1962 – offices for Berry Gordy Jr. and Esther Gordy EdwardsFinance department, 1965 – royalties and payrollArtist personal development, 1966 – Harvey Fuqua (head of artist development and producer of stage performances), Maxine Powell (instructor in grooming, poise, and social graces for Motown artists), Maurice King (vocal coach, musical director and arranger), Cholly Atkins (house choreography), and rehearsal studiosTwo houses for administrative offices, 1966 – sales and marketing, traveling and traffic, and mixing and masteringITMI (International Talent Management Inc.) office, 1966 – managementMotown had hired over 450 employees and had a gross income of $20 million by the end of 1966. Detroit: 1959–1972Early Tamla/Motown artists included Mable John, Eddie Holland and Mary Wells. "Shop Around", the Miracles' first number 1 R&B hit, peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. It was Tamla's first million-selling record. On April 14, 1960, Motown and Tamla Records merged into a new company called Motown Record Corporation. A year later, the Marvelettes scored Tamla's first US number-one pop hit, "Please Mr. Postman". By the mid-1960s, the company, with the help of songwriters and producers such as Robinson, A&R chief William "Mickey" Stevenson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Norman Whitfield, had become a major force in the music industry. From 1961 to 1971, Motown had 110 top 10 hits. Top artists on the Motown label during that period included the Supremes (initially including Diana Ross), the Four Tops, and the Jackson 5, while Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Marvelettes, and the Miracles had hits on the Tamla label. The company operated several labels in addition to the Tamla and Motown imprints. A third label, which Gordy named after himself (though it was originally called "Miracle") featured the Temptations, the Contours, Edwin Starr, and Martha and the Vandellas. A fourth, V.I.P., released recordings by the Velvelettes, the Spinners, the Monitors, and Chris Clark. A fifth label, Soul, featured Jr. Walker & the All Stars, Jimmy Ruffin, Shorty Long, the Originals, and Gladys Knight & the Pips (who had found success before joining Motown, as "The Pips" on Vee-Jay). Many more Motown-owned labels released recordings in other genres, including Workshop Jazz (jazz) Earl Washington Reflections and Earl Washington's All Stars, Mel-o-dy (country, although it was originally an R&B label), and Rare Earth, which featured the band Rare Earth themselves. Under the slogan "The Sound of Young America", Motown's acts were enjoying widespread popularity among black and white audiences alike. Smokey Robinson said of Motown's cultural impact: Into the 1960s, I was still not of a frame of mind that we were not only making music, we were making history. But I did recognize the impact because acts were going all over the world at that time. I recognized the bridges that we crossed, the racial problems and the barriers that we broke down with music. I recognized that because I lived it. I would come to the South in the early days of Motown and the audiences would be segregated. Then they started to get the Motown music and we would go back and the audiences were integrated and the kids were dancing together and holding hands. Berry Gordy House, known as Motown Mansion in Detroit's Boston-Edison Historic DistrictIn 1967, Berry Gordy purchased what is now known as Motown Mansion in Detroit's Boston-Edison Historic District as his home, leaving his previous home to his sister Anna and then-husband Marvin Gaye (where photos for the cover of his album What's Going On were taken). In 1968, Gordy purchased the Donovan building on the corner of Woodward Avenue and Interstate 75, and moved Motown's Detroit offices there (the Donovan building was demolished in January 2006 to provide parking spaces for Super Bowl XL). In the same year, Gordy purchased Golden World Records, and its recording studio became "Studio B" to Hitsville's "Studio A". In the United Kingdom, Motown's records were released on various labels: at first London (only the Miracles' "Shop Around"/"Who's Lovin' You" and "Ain't It Baby"), then Fontana ("Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes was one of four) and then Oriole American ("Fingertips" by Little Stevie Wonder was one of many). In 1963, Motown signed with EMI's Stateside label ("Where Did Our Love Go" by the Supremes and "My Guy" by Mary Wells were Motown's first British top-20 hits). Eventually, EMI created the Tamla Motown label ("Stop! In the Name of Love" by the Supremes was the first Tamla Motown release in March 1965). Los Angeles: 1972–1998After the songwriting trio Holland–Dozier–Holland left the label in 1967 over royalty-payment disputes, Norman Whitfield became the company's top producer, turning out hits for The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & the Pips and Rare Earth. In the meantime Berry Gordy established Motown Productions, a television subsidiary which produced TV specials for the Motown artists, including TCB, with Diana Ross & the Supremes and the Temptations, Diana! with Diana Ross, and Goin' Back to Indiana with the Jackson 5. The company loosened its production rules, allowing some of its longtime artists the opportunity to write and produce more of their own material. This resulted in the recordings of successful and critically acclaimed albums such as Marvin Gaye's What's Going On (1971) and Let's Get it On (1973), and Stevie Wonder's Music of My Mind (1972), Talking Book (1972), and Innervisions (1973). Motown had established branch offices in both New York City and Los Angeles during the mid-1960s, and by 1969 had begun gradually moving more of its operations to Los Angeles. The company moved all of its operations to Los Angeles in June 1972, with a number of artists, among them Martha Reeves, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and many of the Funk Brothers studio band, either staying behind in Detroit or leaving the company for other reasons. By re-locating, Motown aimed chiefly to branch out into the motion-picture industry, and Motown Productions got its start in film by turning out two hit-vehicles for Diana Ross: the Billie Holiday biographical film Lady Sings the Blues (1972), and Mahogany (1975). Other Motown films would include Scott Joplin (1977), Thank God It's Friday (1978), The Wiz (1978) and The Last Dragon (1985). Ewart Abner, who had been associated with Motown since the 1960s, became its president in 1973. By the 1970s, the Motown "hit factory" had become a target of a backlash from some fans of rock music. Record producer Pete Waterman recalls of this period: "I was a DJ for years and I worked for Motown – the press at the time, papers like NME, used to call it Toytown. When I DJ'd on the Poly circuit, the students wanted me to play Spooky Tooth and Velvet Underground. Things don't change. Nowadays, of course, Motown is hip." Despite losing Holland–Dozier–Holland, Norman Whitfield, and some of its other hitmakers by 1975, Motown still had a number of successful artists during the 1970s and 1980s, including Lionel Richie and the Commodores, Rick James, Teena Marie, the Dazz Band, Jose Feliciano and DeBarge. By the mid-1980s Motown had started losing money, and Berry Gordy sold his ownership in Motown to MCA Records (which began a US distribution deal with the label in 1983) and Boston Ventures in June 1988 for $61 million. In 1989, Gordy sold the Motown Productions TV/film operations to Motown executive Suzanne de Passe, who renamed the company de Passe Entertainment and continues to run it as of 2018. Gordy continued to retain the Jobete music publishing catalog, selling it separately to EMI Music Publishing in parts between 1997 and 2004. During the 1990s, Motown was home to successful recording artists such as Boyz II Men and Johnny Gill, although the company itself remained in a state of turmoil. MCA appointed a series of executives to run the company, beginning with Berry Gordy's immediate successor, Jheryl Busby. Busby quarreled with MCA, alleging that the company did not give Motown's product adequate attention or promotion. In 1991, Motown sued MCA to have its distribution deal with the company terminated, and began releasing its product through PolyGram. PolyGram purchased Motown from Boston Ventures three years later. In 1994, Busby was replaced by Andre Harrell, the entrepreneur behind Uptown Records. Harrell served as Motown's CEO for just under two years, leaving the company after receiving bad publicity for being inefficient. Danny Goldberg, who ran PolyGram's Mercury Records group, assumed control of Motown, and George Jackson served as president. Final years of the Motown label: 1999–2005By 1998, Motown had added stars such as 702, Brian McKnight, and Erykah Badu to its roster. In December 1998, PolyGram was acquired by Seagram, and Motown was absorbed into the Universal Music Group. Seagram had purchased Motown's former parent MCA in 1995, and Motown was in effect reunited with many of its MCA corporate siblings (Seagram had hoped to build a media empire around Universal, and started by purchasing PolyGram). Universal briefly considered shuttering the label, but instead decided to restructure it. Kedar Massenburg, a producer for Erykah Badu, became the head of the label, and oversaw successful recordings from Badu, McKnight, Michael McDonald, and new Motown artist India.Arie. Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and the Temptations had remained with the label since its early days, although all except Wonder recorded for other labels for several years. Ross left Motown for RCA Records from 1981 to 1988, but returned in 1989 and stayed until 2002, while Robinson left Motown in 1991 (although he did return to release one more album for the label in 1999). The Temptations left for Atlantic Records in 1977, but returned in 1980 and eventually left again in 2004. As of 2018, Wonder is the only artist from Motown's early period still on the label. Universal Motown: 2005–2011Further information: Universal Motown RecordsIn 2005, Massenburg was replaced by Sylvia Rhone, former CEO of Elektra Records. Motown was merged with Universal Records to create the Universal Motown Records and placed under the newly created umbrella division of Universal Motown Republic Group. Notable artists on Universal Motown included Drake Bell, Ryan Leslie, Melanie Fiona, Kelly Rowland, Forever the Sickest Kids, The Veer Union and Four Year Strong. Motown celebrated its 50th anniversary on January 12, 2009. Relaunch: 2011–presentIn the Summer of 2011, Universal Motown reverted to the Motown brand after having been separated from Universal Motown Republic Group, hired Ethiopia Habtemariam as its Senior Vice President, and operated under The Island Def Jam Music Group. Artists from Universal Motown were transferred to the newly revitalized Motown label. On January 25, 2012, it was announced that Ne-Yo would join the Motown label both as an artist as well as the new Senior Vice President of A&R. On April 1, 2014, it was announced that Island Def Jam will no longer be running following the resignation of CEO Barry Weiss. In a press release sent out by Universal Music Group, the label will now be reorganizing Def Jam Recordings, Island Records and Motown Records all as separate entities. Motown would then begin serving as a subsidiary of Capitol Records. In late 2018, Motown began celebrating its 60th anniversary by reissuing numerous albums from their catalog. Motown UK launched in September 2020 under Universal UK's EMI Records (formerly Virgin EMI Records) division. Motown SoundSee also: Motown (music style)Motown specialized in a type of soul music it referred to with the trademark "The Motown Sound". Crafted with an ear towards pop appeal, the Motown Sound typically used tambourines to accent the back beat, prominent and often melodic electric bass-guitar lines, distinctive melodic and chord structures, and a call-and-response singing style that originated in gospel music. In 1971, Jon Landau wrote in Rolling Stone that the sound consisted of songs with simple structures but sophisticated melodies, along with a four-beat drum pattern, regular use of horns and strings, and "a trebly style of mixing that relied heavily on electronic limiting and equalizing (boosting the high range frequencies) to give the overall product a distinctive sound, particularly effective for broadcast over AM radio". Pop production techniques such as the use of orchestral string sections, charted horn sections, and carefully arranged background vocals were also used. Complex arrangements and elaborate, melismatic vocal riffs were avoided. Motown producers believed steadfastly in the "KISS principle" (keep it simple, stupid). The Motown production process has been described as factory-like. The Hitsville studios remained open and active 22 hours a day, and artists would often go on tour for weeks, come back to Detroit to record as many songs as possible, and then promptly go on tour again. Berry Gordy held quality control meetings every Friday morning, and used veto power to ensure that only the very best material and performances would be released. The test was that every new release needed to fit into a sequence of the top five selling pop singles of the week. Several tracks that later became critical and commercial favorites were initially rejected by Gordy, the two most notable being the Marvin Gaye songs "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "What's Going On". In several cases, producers would rework tracks in hopes of eventually getting them approved at a later Friday morning meeting, as producer Norman Whitfield did with "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg". Many of Motown's best-known songs, including all the early hits for the Supremes, were written by the songwriting trio of Holland–Dozier–Holland (Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland). Other important Motown producers and songwriters included Norman Whitfield, William "Mickey" Stevenson, Smokey Robinson, Barrett Strong, Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, Frank Wilson, Pamela Sawyer & Gloria Jones, James Dean & William Weatherspoon, Johnny Bristol, Harvey Fuqua, Gil Askey, Stevie Wonder, and Gordy himself. The style created by the Motown musicians was a major influence on several non-Motown artists of the mid-1960s, such as Dusty Springfield and the Foundations. In the United Kingdom, the Motown Sound became the basis of the northern soul movement. Smokey Robinson said the Motown Sound had little to do with Detroit: People would listen to it, and they'd say, 'Aha, they use more bass. Or they use more drums.' Bullshit. When we were first successful with it, people were coming from Germany, France, Italy, Mobile, Alabama. From New York, Chicago, California. From everywhere. Just to record in Detroit. They figured it was in the air, that if they came to Detroit and recorded on the freeway, they'd get the Motown sound. Listen, the Motown sound to me is not an audible sound. It's spiritual, and it comes from the people that make it happen. What other people didn't realize is that we just had one studio there, but we recorded in Chicago, Nashville, New York, L.A.—almost every big city. And we still got the sound. The Funk BrothersMain article: The Funk BrothersIn addition to the songwriting process of the writers and producers, one of the major factors in the widespread appeal of Motown's music was Gordy's practice of using a highly-select and tight-knit group of studio musicians, collectively known as the Funk Brothers, to record the instrumental or "band" tracks of a majority of Motown recordings. Among the studio musicians responsible for the "Motown Sound" were keyboardists Earl Van Dyke, Johnny Griffith, and Joe Hunter; guitarists Ray Monette, Joe Messina, Robert White, and Eddie Willis; percussionists Eddie "Bongo" Brown and Jack Ashford; drummers Benny Benjamin, Uriel Jones, and Richard "Pistol" Allen; and bassists James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt. The band's career and work is chronicled in the 2002 documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown, which publicised the fact that these musicians "played on more number-one records than The Beatles, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys combined". Ashford later played on Raphael Saadiq's 2008 album The Way I See It, whose recording and production were modelled after the Motown Sound. Much of the Motown Sound came from the use of overdubbed and duplicated instrumentation. Motown songs regularly featured two drummers instead of one (either overdubbed or in unison), as well as three or four guitar lines. Bassist James Jamerson often played his instrument with only the index finger of his right hand, and created many of the basslines apparent on Motown songs such as "Up the Ladder to the Roof" by The Supremes. Artist developmentArtist development was a major part of Motown's operations instituted by Berry Gordy. The acts on the Motown label were fastidiously groomed, dressed and choreographed for live performances. Motown artists were advised that their breakthrough into the white popular music market made them ambassadors for other African-American artists seeking broad market acceptance, and that they should think, act, walk and talk like royalty, so as to alter the less-than-dignified image commonly held of black musicians by white Americans in that era. Given that many of the talented young artists had been raised in housing projects and lacked the necessary social and dress experience, this Motown department was not only necessary, it created an elegant style of presentation long associated with the label. The artist development department specialized primarily in working with younger, less-experienced acts; experienced performers such as Jr. Walker and Marvin Gaye were exempt from artist-development classes. Many of the young artists participated in an annual package tour called the "Motortown Revue", which was popular, first, on the "Chitlin' Circuit", and, later, around the world. The tours gave the younger artists a chance to hone their performance and social skills and learn from the more experienced artists. Motown subsidiary labelsIn order to avoid accusations of payola should DJs play too many records from the original Tamla label, Gordy formed Motown Records as a second label in 1960. The two labels featured the same writers, producers and artists. Many more subsidiary labels were established later under the umbrella of the Motown parent company, including Gordy Records, Soul Records and VIP Records; in reality the Motown Record Corporation controlled all of these labels. Most of the distinctions between Motown labels were largely arbitrary, with the same writers, producers and musicians working on all the major subsidiaries, and artists were often shuffled between labels for internal marketing reasons. All of these records are usually considered to be "Motown" records, regardless of whether they actually appeared on the Motown Records label itself. Major divisionsTamla Records: Established 1959, Tamla was a primary subsidiary for mainstream R&B/soul music. Tamla is the company's original label: Gordy founded Tamla Records several months before establishing the Motown Record Corporation. The label's numbering system was combined with those of Motown and Gordy in 1982, and the label was merged with Motown in 1988. Notable Tamla artists included Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and the Marvelettes. Tamla was briefly re-activated in 1996 as a reggae label, but only released a 12" single by Cocoa Tea called "New Immigration Law". Tamla also had a sub-label called Penny Records in 1959; artists on that label included Bryan Brent And The Cut Outs, who recorded a single for the label entitled "Vacation Time" b/w "For Eternity" (2201). Tamla Records slogan: "The Sound that Makes the World Go 'Round".Motown Records: Established 1960, Motown was and remains the company's main label for mainstream R&B/soul music (and, today, hip-hop music as well). The label's numbering system was combined with those of Tamla and Gordy in 1982, and the label (and company) was purchased by MCA in 1988. Notable Motown artists have included Mary Wells, the Supremes, Four Tops, the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Boyz II Men, Commodores, Lionel Richie, Dazz Band, Brian McKnight, 98 Degrees, and Erykah Badu. Motown Records slogan: "The Sound of Young America".Gordy Records: Established 1962, Gordy was also a primary subsidiary for mainstream R&B/soul music. Originally known as Miracle Records (slogan: "If It's a Hit, It's a Miracle"), the name was changed in 1962 to avoid confusion with the Miracles singing group. The label's numbering system was combined with those of Motown and Tamla in 1982, and the label was merged with Motown in 1988. Notable Gordy artists included the Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, the Contours, Edwin Starr, Rick James, The Mary Jane Girls, Teena Marie, Switch, and DeBarge. Gordy Records slogan: "It's What's in the Grooves that Counts".Tamla Motown Records: Motown's non-US label, established in March 1965 and folded into the regular Motown label in 1976. Distributed by EMI, Tamla Motown issued the releases on the American Motown labels, using its own numbering system. In some cases, Tamla Motown would issue singles and albums not released in the United States (for example, the singles "I Second That Emotion" and "Why (Must We Fall in Love)" by Diana Ross & the Supremes with the Temptations, as well as the successful Motown Chartbusters series of albums).Secondary R&B labelsCheck-Mate Records: Short-lived (1961–1962) R&B/soul subsidiary, purchased from Chess Records. Notable artists included David Ruffin and The Del-Phis (later Martha and the Vandellas).Miracle Records: Short-lived (1961) R&B/soul subsidiary that lasted less than a year. Some pressings featured the infamous tagline, "If it's a hit, it's a Miracle." Renamed Gordy Records in 1962. Notable releases included early recordings by Jimmy Ruffin and the Temptations.MoWest Records: MoWest was a short-lived (1971–1973; 1976 in UK) subsidiary for R&B/soul artists based on the West Coast. Shut down when the main Motown office moved to Los Angeles. Notable artists included G. C. Cameron, the Sisters Love, Syreeta Wright, the Four Seasons, Commodores (their first two singles in 1972 and 1973), and Los Angeles DJ Tom Clay. Unlike other Motown releases in the UK that were released by Tamla Motown, MoWest retained its US label design and logo for its UK releases as well. In fact, MoWest lasted longer in the UK up until 1976.Motown Yesteryear: a label created in late 1970s and used through the 1980s for the reissues of 7-inch singles from all eras of the company's history, after printing in the initial label has ceased. One Motown Yesteryear single made Billboard′s Top 40 – the Contours' "Do You Love Me", in 1988, when its inclusion in the film Dirty Dancing revived interest.Soul Records: Established in 1964, Soul was a R&B/soul subsidiary for releases with less of a jazz feel and/or more of a blues feel. Notable Soul artists included Jr. Walker & the All-Stars, Shorty Long, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Originals, the Fantastic Four, and Jimmy Ruffin. The label was dissolved in 1978. This label has no affiliation with the short-lived S.O.U.L. Records- an early 1990s imprint that was founded by the production team the Bomb Squad.V.I.P. Records: Established in 1964, V.I.P. was an R&B/soul subsidiary. Notable artists included the Velvelettes, the Spinners, the Monitors, the Elgins and Chris Clark. V.I.P. also was the outlet for pop records that were leased to Motown by EMI (the distributor of Tamla-Motown in Europe). The label was dissolved in 1974.Weed Records: A very short-lived subsidiary. Only one release, Chris Clark's 1969 CC Rides Again album, was issued. This release featured the tongue-in-cheek tagline: "Your Favorite Artists Are On Weed". The logo was a parody of the "Snapping Fingers" logo for Stax Records, but the hand in this case is holding up a peace sign. The name "Weed Records" is now owned by the Tokyo/New York-based Weed Records.Additional genre labelsCountryMel-o-dy Records.: Established in 1962 as a secondary R&B/soul music subsidiary, Mel-o-dy later focused on white country music artists. Notable Mel-o-dy artists include Dorsey Burnette. The label was dissolved in 1965.Hitsville Records.: Founded as Melodyland Records in 1974. After the Melodyland Christian Center threatened legal action, the name was changed to Hitsville in 1976. Like Mel-o-dy before it, Hitsville focused on country music. Run by Mike Curb and Ray Ruff, Hitsville's notable artists included Ronnie Dove, Pat Boone, T. G. Sheppard and Jud Strunk. The label was dissolved in 1977. In the UK, Melodyland/Hitsville material was released on MoWest.M.C. Records: Operated 1977 to 1978 as a continuation of the Hitsville label. A joint venture between Gordy and Mike Curb. The Mel-o-dy, Hitsville, and M.C. catalogs are now managed by Mercury Nashville Records.Hip hop/rapWondirection Records.: A record label owned by Stevie Wonder, it had one 12-inch dance release, the 10' 35" rap track "The Crown" by Gary Byrd and the G.B. Experience.Mad Sounds Recordings.: Short-lived hip-hop/rap subsidiary label, released five albums in the mid-1990s- including Zig Zag by Tha Mexakinz, Trendz by Trendz of Culture and Rottin ta da Core by Rottin Razkals.JazzWorkshop Jazz Records.: Motown's jazz subsidiary, active from 1962 to 1964. Notable Workshop Jazz artists included the George Bohannon Trio, Earl Washington All Stars, and Four Tops (whose recordings for the label went unissued for 30 years). The Workshop Jazz catalog is currently managed by Verve Records.Blaze Records.: A short-lived label featuring a Jack Ashford instrumental released in September 1969, "Do The Choo-Choo" with b-side "Do The Choo-Choo Pt II" written by L. Chandler, E. Willis, J. Ashford, with label number 1107.Mo Jazz Records.: Another jazz label created in the 1990s, this was Motown's most successful jazz imprint. Notable artists included Norman Brown, Foley, Norman Connors, and J. Spencer. It also reissued instrumental albums like Stevie Wonder's 1968 album Eivets Rednow and Grover Washington Jr.'s CTI/Kudu albums under the Classic Mo Jazz subsidiary. This label (including its roster and catalog) was folded into Verve Records after the PolyGram/Universal merger.RockRare Earth Records.: Established in 1969 after the signing of Rare Earth (after whom the label was named), Rare Earth Records was a subsidiary focusing on rock music by white artists. Notable acts included Rare Earth, R. Dean Taylor, the Pretty Things, Love Sculpture, Kiki Dee, Toe Fat, The Cats and Shaun Murphy (both solo and her collaborations with Meat Loaf). The label also was the subsidiary to house the first white band signed to Motown, the Rustix.Prodigal Records.: Purchased by Motown in 1976, Motown used Prodigal Records as a second rock music subsidiary; a successor label to Rare Earth Records. The Rare Earth band moved over to the label following the Rare Earth label's demise. Pop singer Charlene's #3 pop single for Motown I've Never Been To Me was originally released and charted on this label in 1977 (#97). Prodigal was dissolved in 1978.Morocco Records.: Acronym for "MOtown ROCk COmpany". As the name suggests, Morocco was a rock music subsidiary. Active from 1983 to 1984, it was a short-lived attempt to revive the Rare Earth Records concept. Only seven albums were released on the label. Its two most promising acts, Duke Jupiter and the black new wave trio Tiggi Clay (via their lead singer, Fizzy Qwick) eventually moved to the parent label.OtherDivinity Records.: Short-lived (1962–1963) gospel subsidiary. With five releases by artists- Wright Specials, Gospel Stars, Bernadettes, and Liz Lands. Label sequence starts at 99004 to 99008, the final recording being "We Shall Overcome" (for label number 99008) that was recorded in the Graystone Ballroom, was withdrawn and transferred to GORDY 7023B as the "I Have A Dream" speech by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.Black Forum Records.: Short-lived (1970–1973) spoken-word subsidiary that focused mainly on albums featuring progressive political and pro-civil rights speeches/poetry. Black Forum issued recordings by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Elaine Brown, Langston Hughes, Margaret Danner, and others.Natural Resources: This label was active from 1972 to 1973 and in 1976 as a minor subsidiary for white artists and instrumental bands. It later served as a label for Motown, Tamla and Gordy reissues and Motown compilation albums in 1978 and 1979.Motown Latino Records.: Short-lived (1982) subsidiary for Spanish-language Latin American music. Its only artist was Jose Feliciano.Gaiee Records.: Only one single was released on this label, in 1975; Valentino's "Gay/Lesbian" anthem "I Was Born This Way", which was later covered by fellow Motown artist Carl Bean in 1977.Independent labels distributed by MotownBiv 10 Records: A hip-hop/R&B label that was founded by Bell Biv Devoe/New Edition member Michael Bivins. The label operated throughout most of the 1990s. Its roster included Another Bad Creation, Boyz II Men, and 702.Chisa Records: Motown released output for Chisa, a label owned by Hugh Masekela, from 1969 to 1972 (prior to that, the label was distributed by Vault Records).CTI Records: Motown distributed output for CTI Records, a jazz label owned by Creed Taylor, from 1974 to 1975. CTI subsidiaries distributed by Motown included Kudu Records, Three Brothers Records and Salvation Records. With a few exceptions, the bulk of CTI's recordings are now owned by Sony Music Entertainment.Ecology Records: A very short-lived label owned by Sammy Davis Jr. and distributed by Motown. Only release: single "In My Own Lifetime"/"I'll Begin Again", by Davis in 1971.Gull Records: A UK-based label still in operation, Motown released Gull's output in the US in 1975. Gull had Judas Priest on its roster in 1975, but their LP Sad Wings of Destiny, intended for release by Motown in the US, was issued after the Motown/Gull Deal had fallen through.Manticore Records: A record label created by the members of the rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Manticore released albums by ELP and various other Progressive rock artists. Manticore was originally distributed in the U.S. by Atlantic Records from 1973 to 1975 but switched to Motown distribution until the label folded in 1977.Miscellaneous labels associated with MotownGroovesville RecordsInferno RecordsIPG RecordsRayber RecordsRic-Tic Records Berry Gordy III (born November 28, 1929), known professionally as Berry Gordy Jr., is an American record executive, record producer, songwriter, film producer and television producer. He is best known as the founder of the Motown record label and its subsidiaries, which was the highest-earning African-American business for decades. As a songwriter, he composed or co-composed a number of hits including "Lonely Teardrops" and "That's Why" (Jackie Wilson), "Shop Around" (The Miracles), and "Do You Love Me" (The Contours), all of which topped the US R&B charts, as well as the international hit "Reet Petite" (Jackie Wilson). As part of The Corporation he wrote many hit songs for The Jackson 5, including "I Want You Back" and "ABC". As a record producer, he launched the Miracles and signed acts like The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips and Stevie Wonder. He was known for carefully directing the public image, dress, manners, and choreography of his acts. In 1988, Gordy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2016, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. Contents1Early years2Motown Record Corporation3Relocation to Los Angeles4Awards and accolades5Statements about Motown artists6Motown: The Musical7Personal life8Vistas Stables9Film9.1Broadway10In popular culture11See also12References13External linksEarly yearsBerry Gordy III (also known as Berry Gordy Jr.) was the seventh of eight children (Fuller, Esther, Anna, Loucye, George, Gwen, Berry and Robert), born on November 28, 1929 in Detroit, to the middle-class family of Berry Gordy II (also known as Berry Gordy Sr.), who had relocated to Detroit from Oconee in Washington County, Georgia, in 1922. His grandfather, named Berry Gordy I, was the son of James Gordy, a white plantation owner in Georgia, and a woman he enslaved. His half-brother, James (son of the elder James and his legal wife), was the grandfather of President Jimmy Carter. Berry Gordy II was led to Detroit both by the job opportunities offered by the booming automotive businesses, and also by worries over the atmosphere in the American South where black men were lynched 'with chilling regularity by the Ku Klux Klan'; in the first twenty years of the twentieth century, 1,502 lynchings were reported, most in Southern states. Gordy's father opened a grocery store, owned a plastering and carpentry business, and a printing shop. While his brothers Fuller and George were happy to work at jobs their father assigned to them in construction and printing, Berry and Robert, the younger boys, were less inclined to follow that path. Both Robert and Berry liked dancing and music, but Berry's greatest interest was in boxing. Gordy dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade to become a professional boxer in hopes of becoming rich quickly; he boxed professionally until 1950, when he was drafted by the United States Army in 1951 for service in the Korean War. Arriving in Korea in May 1952, Gordy was first assigned to the 58th Field Artillery Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, near Panmunjom. He later became a chaplain's assistant, driving a jeep and playing the organ at religious services at the front. His tour in the Korean War was completed in April 1953. He obtained a General Educational Development degree (equivalent to a high school degree). After his return from Korea in 1953, he married nineteen year old Thelma Louise Coleman in Toledo, Ohio. Gordy Jr. developed his interest in music by writing songs and opening the 3-D Record Mart, a record store featuring jazz music and 3-D glasses. The store was unsuccessful, and Gordy sought work at the Lincoln-Mercury plant, but his family connections put him in touch with Al Green (no relation to the singer Reverend Al Green), owner of the Flame Show Bar Talent Club, where he met the singer Jackie Wilson. In 1957, Wilson recorded "Reet Petite", a song Gordy had co-written with his sister Gwen and writer-producer Billy Davis. It became a modest hit, but had more success internationally, especially in the UK, where it reached the Top 10 and even later topped the chart on re-issue in 1986. Wilson recorded six more songs co-written by Gordy over the next two years, including "Lonely Teardrops", which topped the R&B charts and got to number 7 in the pop chart. The Gordy siblings and Davis also wrote "All I Could Do Was Cry" for Etta James at Chess Records. Motown Record CorporationMain article: MotownGordy reinvested the profits from his songwriting success into producing. In 1957, he discovered the Miracles (originally known as the Matadors) and began building a portfolio of successful artists. In 1959, with the encouragement of Miracles leader Smokey Robinson, Gordy borrowed $800 from his family to create an R&B record company. Originally, Gordy wanted to name the new label Tammy Records, after the song recorded by Debbie Reynolds. However, that name was taken, and he chose the name Tamla Records. The company began operating on January 12, 1959. "Come to Me" by Marv Johnson was issued as Tamla 101. United Artists Records picked up "Come to Me" for national distribution, as well as Johnson's more successful follow-up records such as "You Got What It Takes", co-produced by Gordy, who also received a co-writer credit, though the song was originally written and recorded by guitarist Bobby Parker for Vee-Jay Records a year and a half earlier. Gordy's next release was the only 45 ever issued on his Rayber label, featuring Wade Jones with an unnamed female backup group. The record did not sell well and is now one of the rarest issues from the Motown stable. Berry's third release was "Bad Girl" by the Miracles, the first release on the Motown record label. "Bad Girl" was a solid hit in 1959 after Chess Records picked it up. Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)" initially appeared on Tamla and then charted on Gordy's sister's label, Anna Records, in February 1960. It was The Miracles who gave the label its first million-selling hit single, with the 1960 Grammy Hall of Fame smash, "Shop Around" and this song, and its follow up hits,"You've Really Got a Hold on Me" (another Grammy Hall of Fame-inducted hit), "Mickey's Monkey","What's So Good About Goodbye", and "I'll Try Something New", made The Miracles the label's first stars. The Tamla and Motown labels were then merged into a new company, Motown Record Corporation, incorporated on April 14, 1960. In 1960, Gordy signed an unknown singer, Mary Wells, who became the fledgling label's second star, with Smokey Robinson penning her hits "You Beat Me to the Punch", "Two Lovers", and "My Guy". The Miracles' hit "Shop Around" peaked at No. 1 on the national R&B charts in late 1960 and at No. 2 on the Billboard magazine pop charts on January 16, 1961 (No. 1 pop, Cash Box), which established Motown as an independent company worthy of notice. Later in 1961, the Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman" made it to the top of both charts. Berry Gordy House, known as the Motown mansion, in Detroit's Boston-Edison Historic DistrictGordy's gift for identifying and bringing together musical talent, along with the careful management of his artists' public image, made Motown a major national and then international success. Over the next decade, he signed such artists as the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Jimmy Ruffin, the Contours, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Commodores, the Velvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5. Though he also signed various white acts on the label (Rare Earth, Rustix, via the Rare Earth label), he largely promoted African American artists but carefully controlled their public image, dress, manners and choreography for across-the-board appeal. Relocation to Los AngelesIn 1972, Gordy relocated to Los Angeles, where he produced the commercially successful biographical drama film on Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues, starring Diana Ross (who was nominated for an Academy Award), Richard Pryor, and Billy Dee Williams (cast in a role originally for Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops). Initially the studio, over Gordy's objections, rejected Williams after several screen tests. However, Gordy, known for his tenacity, eventually prevailed, and the film established Williams as a major movie star. Berry Gordy soon after produced and directed Mahogany, (Tony Richardson was the original director, but Gordy fired Richardson and took over direction himself after a dispute over minor casting) also starring Ross and Williams. In 1985, he produced the cult martial arts film The Last Dragon, which starred martial artist Taimak and one of Prince's proteges, Vanity. Although Motown continued to produce major hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s by artists including the Jacksons, Rick James, Commodores, Lionel Richie and long-term signings Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, the record company was no longer the major force it had been. Gordy sold his interests in Motown Records to MCA and Boston Ventures on June 28, 1988, for $61 million. He later sold most of his interests in Jobete publishing to EMI Publishing. Gordy wrote or co-wrote 240 of the approximately 15,000 songs in Motown's Jobete music catalogue. However, the true test of the label's worth would come a few years later, when Polygram paid over $330 million (Diana Ross was given shares in this version of the label) for the Motown catalog. Gordy published an autobiography, To Be Loved, in 1994. Awards and accoladesGordy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. He was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2009. When Gordy received the Songwriters Hall of Fame's Pioneer Award on June 13, 2013, he was the first living individual to receive the honor. In 2016, Gordy received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama for "helping to create a trailblazing new sound in American music. As a record producer and songwriter, he helped build Motown, launching the music careers of countless legendary artists. His unique sound helped shape our Nation's story." Berry Gordy Square in Los Angeles was designated by the City Council at intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Argyle where the office of Motown was located. Statements about Motown artistsFollowing the funeral of Marvin Gaye on April 5, 1984, Gordy declared Gaye "the greatest of his time." Berry said the singer "had no musical equals," while also discussing how he carried on the legacy of other soul singers who tackled a range of themes, from love to civil rights, such as Billie Holiday. On March 20, 2009, Gordy was in Hollywood to pay tribute to his first group and first million-selling act, the Miracles, when the members received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Speaking in tribute to the group, Gordy said: "Without the Miracles, Motown would not be the Motown it is today." At the age of 79, Gordy spoke at the memorial service for Michael Jackson in Los Angeles on July 7, 2009. He suggested that "The King of Pop" was perhaps not the best description for Jackson in light of his achievements, referring to him instead as "the greatest entertainer that ever lived." Motown: The MusicalOn May 15, 2011, it was announced that Gordy was developing a Broadway musical about Motown. The show is said to be an account of events of the 1960s and how they shaped the creation of the label. Gordy hoped that the musical would improve the reputation of Motown Records and clear up any misconceptions regarding the label's demise. Motown: The Musical began previews at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on March 11, 2013, and began regular performances there on April 14. The musical closed in January 2015. The UK version of Motown: The Musical opened in London's West End in January 2016. Berry Gordy was present at the opening night. Personal lifeGordy, who was married and divorced three times, has eight children: His publishing company, Jobete, was named after his three eldest children: Joy, Berry and Terry. He had three children with his first wife, Thelma Coleman, whom he married in 1953 (they were divorced in 1959): Hazel Joy Gordy (born August 24, 1954), was once married to Jermaine Jackson.Berry Gordy IV (born October 1955), father to Skyler Austen Gordy.Terry James Gordy (born August 1956).In the spring of 1960 he married Raynoma Mayberry Liles (they were divorced in 1964). They had one son: Kerry Gordy (born June 25, 1959).With Jeana Jackson, Gordy had one daughter: Sherry Gordy (born May 23, 1960).With his then-mistress Margaret Norton, Gordy had a son who would later become more popularly known as Motown musician Rockwell: Kennedy William Gordy (born March 15, 1964).Gordy had a daughter with Motown artist Diana Ross, with whom he had an intimate relationship from 1965 through 1970: Rhonda Suzanne (born August 14, 1971; her legal father is Robert Ellis Silberstein under California family law)Gordy's eighth and youngest child is a son born to Nancy Leiviska. He is known by his stage name, Redfoo, as one member of the duo LMFAO (the other member is Skyler Gordy, born August 23, 1986, and known professionally as SkyBlu; he is the grandson of Gordy and Thelma Coleman through their son Berry IV and his wife, Valerie Robeson): Stefan Kendal Gordy (born September 3, 1975).Berry married Grace Eaton on July 17, 1990; they divorced in 1993. Vistas StablesBerry Gordy owned the colt Powis Castle whom he raced under the nom de course Vistas Stables. Racing in California, Powis Castle won the 1994 Oceanside Stakes and Malibu Stakes then finished 8th in the Kentucky Derby and 9th in the Preakness Stakes, the first two legs of the U.S. Triple Crown series. FilmYearTitleNotes1972Lady Sings the BluesProducer1975MahoganyProducer and director1976The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor KingsProducer1985The Last DragonProducer and music 'N Roll! The First 5,000 YearsWriter: "I'll Be There"2005LennonWriter: "Money (That's What I Want)"2013Motown: The MusicalProducer and writer, composer and lyricistIn popular cultureGordy was portrayed by Billy Dee Williams (whose career Gordy had helped to jump-start in the 1970s) in the 1992 miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream.Gordy was portrayed by Obba Babatunde in the 1998 miniseries The Temptations.The character Gordy Berry (also played by Babatunde) in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a reference to Berry Gordy.The character of Curtis Taylor Jr., a music executive in the 2006 musical film Dreamgirls, has been called "a thinly veiled portrayal" of Gordy. The film was based on the 1981 musical Dreamgirls, but the film made the connection to Gordy and Motown much more explicit than the musical did, by, among other things, moving the setting of the story from Chicago to Detroit. Taylor appears in the film as unethical and insensitive to his artists, which caused Gordy and others to criticize the film after its release. Gordy called the portrayal "100% wrong," while Smokey Robinson said it "blatantly painted a negative picture of Motown and Berry Gordy and of the Supremes." In 2007, the producers of the film, DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures, issued a public apology to Gordy, saying they were sorry "for any confusion that has resulted from our fictional work." Gordy accepted the apology.