The Untold Truth of Berry Gordy – His Relationships, Family Life and Net Worth

It is impossible to talk about the notoriety of ‘black music’ without mentioning Berry Gordy. This charming and killer-smile American businessman is the founder of Motown Record Corporation. The company he founded in 1959 grew to become the most successful music company in America owned by a black man.

He was the sensation behind the rise of many R&B performers of the ‘60s and ‘70s. These performers include Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, and The Temptations.

Berry Gordy III was born on 28th November 1929 in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Berry Gordy II, was a middle-class American, who moved from Oconee in Georgia to Detroit in 1922. It has been said that he shares a lineage with former US President Jimmy Carter.

The music icon could not finish his schooling at Northeastern High School in Detroit – not because he couldn’t afford to, but because, he was obsessed with boxing – and so he dropped out of school to pursue a featherweight boxing career. This was followed by a spell in the U.S. Army.

On Berry’s return to Detroit, he got interested in music and business as well which led him to open his first store, 3-D Record Mart. In the store, he sold jazz music and 3-D glasses while also writing songs at the time.

The store business failed, forcing Berry to look for a job at the Lincoln-Mercury plant. However, his parents intervened and linked him up with the owner of the Flame Show Bar Talent Club, Al Green. While working there, he met with Jackie Wilson, popularly known as Mr. Excitement.

Alongside Gwen (Berry’s sister) and Billy Davis (a writer and producer), Berry wrote the song, Reet Petite for Jackie Wilson. Jackie recorded the song in 1957 and it got a lot of buzzes internationally. In the UK, the song topped the charts. He co-wrote a couple of other songs for Jackie, including chart-topping Lonely Drops.

Berry Gordy At A Glance

Berry Gordy’s Relationships and Family Life

Like most celebrities, Berry Gordy has been involved in multiple relationships – both marital and non-marital relationships. His first wife was Thelma Coleman. They got married in 1953, on his return from serving his country through the military. The marriage lasted for just six years before they got officially divorced in 1959.

Berry Gordy

One year after his failed marriage with Thelma, he got married to Raynoma Mayberry Liles. However, before getting married to Raynoma, he had a brief affair with Jeana Jackson and also had a mistress, Margaret Norton. Berry and Raynoma wedded in the spring of 1960 but the marriage suffered a lot as a result of his infidelity issues. So, in 1964, they got divorced just four years later, making it his second divorce.

In 1965, he was involved in a romantic fling with Diana Ross, who was a Motown artist at the time. Though they never got married, they were in the relationship for quite a while. Their intimate relationship lasted for five years (between 1965 and 1970).

Berry Gordy and Diana Ross
Berry Gordy and Diana Ross

After the relationship with Diana Ross, it took him a long time to hook up with anyone. Finally, in 1982, he found Grace Eaton. In what seemed to be a perfect match-up, they dated for eight years. It still didn’t stop him from having a fling with Nancy Leiviska. However, in 1990, both decided to legalize their relationship, having spent a long time together. The marriage didn’t live up to expectation as it became Berry’s least lasting marriage. After being married for three years, Berry filed for a divorce. The divorce officially happened in 1993.

He had eight children from five women. His first wife, Thelma, gave birth to three children – Hazel (born in 1954 and married to Jermaine Jackson), Berry IV (born in 1955 and father to Skyler Austen Gordy), and Terry (born in 1956).

His second wife, Raynoma, gave birth to a child, Kerry (born in 1959). Jeana had one daughter for him, Sherry (born in 1960). Margaret had a son, Kennedy William that was born in 1964 and goes by the stage name, Rockwell.

Berry Gordy also had a daughter with Diana Ross, Rhonda Suzanne in 1971. However, her legal father is Robert Ellis Silberstein under California family law. His eight child is Stephan Kendal, born to him by Nancy. He was born in 1975 and goes by the stage name, Redfoo.

How Much is He Worth?

Gordy is more than just a music producer, his Motown Records remains one of the most successful business enterprises ever owned by an African American. In 1960 Gordy merged two record labels to form Motown Records. After decades of success, he sold Motown in 1988 to MCA Records for around $61 million.

Over the years, there have been few names that can match Berry Gordy’s reputation and success within the music industry. He is estimated to have a net worth of $345 million, placing him among the richest black music producers.

Other Facts About Berry Gordy

  1. He has 12 Golden Glove titles. As a boxer, he fought 15 Golden Glove matches and won 12 of them.
  2. He was the first person alive to be inducted into the pioneer Songwriters Hall of Fame award in 2013.
  3. Gordy has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his contribution to music.
  4. Former American President Barrack Obama in 2016 bestowed on Berry Gordon the National Medal of Arts for his influence on American music.

Recent

Timeline of Michael Jackson’s Career Achievements, Shocking Death and Legacies

Famed as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson was one of the most prominent figures in popular culture. He was a talented musician, dancer...

A Timeline of Elvis Presley’s Career Beginnings, Artistry and Legacies

Among the facets of American art, music is one of the most significant subgroups. In this subgroup, there are very few names that carry...

A Timeline of Bill Gates’ Early Life, Achievements and Philanthropy

Bill Gates is renowned as an American computer programmer and business magnate who co-founded the world’s largest personal computer software company known as Microsoft....

Timeline of Mark Zuckerberg’s Career Achievements, Personal Life and Philanthropy

Harvard University has produced many notable alumni over the years. The Ivy League institution also holds the record for producing some of the most...

Timeline of Elon Musk’s Early Life, Career Achievements and Personal Life

Elon Musk's name rings a very loud bell in the world of technology and business generally and the reason is pretty obvious; the man...

Recommended

Who is Antonio Garza and What Exactly is Her Gender, A Boy or a Girl?

The American beauty enthusiast and makeup artist, Antonio Garza, has become one of the most prominent social media influencers out there and no doubt...

Is Renée Felice Smith Married? Here Are Facts About Her Family And Career

Renée Felice Smith is the actress who has been portraying the character of 'Nell Jones' in the CBS military drama/police procedural action series NCIS:...

Who are The Backstreet Boys Members, How Old are They and Where are They Now?

There is no doubt that The Backstreet Boys is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed names in the music industry. With worldwide...

Bethany Joy Lenz Married, Husband, Daughter, Hot Pics, Body Measurements

While Bethany Joy Lenz or Joie Lenz is well known as an American actress and filmmaker, she is also popular as a singer and...

Is Vince Gill Married? Who Is His Wife? Daughter, Age, Height, Bio

Success is not measured by the number of years you have stayed at your job but how relevant you are to the people around...

Get the Latest Gist, Profiles and Trends Straight To Your in your inbox

Related Stories