Cover art for podcast Desert Island Discs

Desert Island Discs

300 EpisodesProduced by BBC Radio 4Website

Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island? Guests share the soundtrack of their lives.

34:45

Berry Gordy

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.

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