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Berry Gordy

Kirsty Young interviews Berry Gordy, record producer and creator of the Motown label, who chooses the eight records he would take with him to a desert island.

Kirsty Young's castaway is the producer Berry Gordy.

He founded the Motown record label and his musical empire made worldwide stars of Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Jackson 5 and Marvin Gaye.

The second youngest of eight children, he was brought up in Detroit. He left school at sixteen to become a Featherweight boxer, and served as a soldier in the Korean war before making music his career. His first foray into the music business was a jazz record store in Detroit but he was out of step with popular taste and he became bankrupt.

It was whilst working on a a car production line that he came up with the idea of setting up a record label. The combination of his song-writing skills and entrepreneurial spirit took Motown music to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and to the centre of American culture during a pivotal moment in America's civil rights history. He was friends with Dr Martin Luther King and recorded some of his speeches on the Motown label.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

Available now

35 minutes

Music Played

  • The Nat King Cole Trio

    Sweet Lorraine

    • The Complete After Midnight Sessions.
    • Capitol.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Prelude in C sharp minor, Op. 3 No. 2

    Performer: Vladimir Ashkenazy.
    • Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes.
    • Decca.
  • Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five

    Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens

    • Choo Choo Ch’Boogie.
    • ASV.
  • Jackie Wilson

    To Be Loved

    • The Very Best of Jackie Wilson.
    • Brunswick Records.
  • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

    I’ll Try Something New

    • 18 Greatest Hits.
    • Tamla.
  • Billie Holiday

    God Bless The Child

    • The Legend of Billie Holiday.
    • Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd.

    • Diana Ross & The Supremes

      I Hear a Symphony

      • The Ultimate Collection.
      • Motown.
  • Brandon Victor Dixon

    Can I Close The Door (On Love)

    • Motown the Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording).
    • Motown.

    The Collected works of Rudyard Kipling


    A cellar of his favourite wine


Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Berry Gordy
Producer Sarah Taylor


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