Friday, Jun. 26, 2009

Berry Gordy

Berry Gordy is the founder of Motown Records. He signed the Jackson 5 to his label in 1968.

I did not want any more kids' groups. I just wanted to concentrate on all of the other stars that we had. I had Stevie Wonder as a kids' group, and he had to have an entourage and tutors, and he could only work so many hours and there were so many restrictions. And that was enough. But my creative assistant, she insisted [on the Jackson 5].

And when I saw them come out and start performing, I was blown away, frankly. They did a Smokey song called "Who's Loving You" — I'm not sure if it was at the first audition or some subsequent day. But when Michael sang that song — it's a very passionate love song — he sang it like he had been living that song for 50 years. I remember the other members had the instruments and the guitars and stuff, and they would sing a song and it'd be great and have great precision. And once the song was over, everybody would relax, and I remember Michael staring at me to see what I was going to say, whether I liked it, whether I didn't. He was very serious. He was never out of focus with what I or other people around me were thinking and doing.

When you see someone with great precision like what Michael and his brothers had, you know a lot of work has to go into it. So we moved them from Gary, Ind., to Los Angeles with us. That's how important I thought they were. And we ended up having them live with us because where we were renting the place for them, they made too much noise in their rehearsals, and so they were sort of kicked out, so to speak. They moved in with me, and we then had all day and night to rehearse. There are a lot of debates about the early part of his life and his suffering, and I know that it wasn't a kid's life, but I disagree with most people, because he lived with me and I didn't see so much trauma in his life. I'm not saying he didn't have any. But I know when he lived with me, he was very normal.