Berry Gordy, Jr.
record company founder and executive
Gordy pursued a career as a boxer and served in the U.S. Army before returning to Detroit where he opened his own record store and produced recordings of his own songs. In 1959 he founded the Motown Record Corporation, which scored its first gold record with Smokey Robinson's "Shop Around" the next year. Many of Motown's early hit-makers hailed from Detroit, including the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Temptations, and Martha and the Vandellas. Other artists included Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and the Jackson Five. The "Motown sound" became highly popular nationwide, and Motown Records quickly became one of the most influential companies in the business.