by Berry Gordy ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 31, 1994
A substantive, reasonably candid memoir from the founder of Detroit's legendary Motown Records, creator of the soundtrack of the '60s. Gordy opens in 1988, as he agonizes over the sale of his independent company to conglomerate giant MCA, but quickly flashes back to the period everyone wants to read about: Motown's Golden Age, 1960-1970, when Gordy and his crack team of songwriters, producers, and studio musicians (many of them affectionately portrayed here) created a series of brilliant pop records -- from ""My Girl"" to ""Where Did Our Love Go"" to ""I Heard It Through the Grapevine"" -- that made artists like the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, and the Jackson Five famous. Along the way, Motown's success completed the destruction of musical segregation that had begun with the rock and soul explosion of the early 1950s. "" 'Pop' means popular,"" writes Gordy on the subject of categorizing art. ""I never gave a damn what else it was called."" His solidly middle-class, high-achieving parents were remarkably patient with his long search for a career (he was 29 when he started Motown in 1959 with an $800 loan from the family credit union), and he warmly depicts them and his siblings, many of whom came to work at Motown. A fair amount of time is also devoted to his active love life; he had eight children with five different women, including one with Diana Ross, the supreme Supreme he calls ""my star...my leading lady."" Knowledgeable music fans will spot some selective recall on Gordy's part -- he glosses over widespread resentment of Ross in particular -- but for the most part he is frank about tensions within Motown and convincing in his rebuttal of charges that the company exploited its artists financially. His descriptions of the famous ""assembly-line"" process by which Motown crafted hits the way Detroit's auto companies cranked out cars shows the producers/songwriters as the primary artistic force behind the music. Nothing really new here, but a vivid recreation of a great period and a seminal company in popular music.
Pub Date: Oct. 31, 1994
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994
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