Category: berry gordy

Marvin Gaye photographed by Ed Caraeff in Van Nuys, California on March 28, 1976.

Ed Caraeff: “Marvin was one of a very few I photographed that I was in awe of meeting. I was a big fan. He was not in a good mood, going thru a divorce, obligated to release an album by his father in law’s (Berry Gordy) record company. Motown hired me to ‘replicate a place in Jamaica that Marvin had just returned from.’ The photographs were never published. The cover used on Here, My Dear is a funky b & w illustration.”

[Correction: Berry Gordy was his brother in law, Marvin was married to his sister Anna Gordy]


Founding member of The Supremes, Florence Ballard, promo photos for ABC Records in 1968

Florence Ballard was born in Detroit on June 30, 1943,

the ninth of fifteen children. She was friends with doo-wop trio The Primes (two of whom would later form The Temptations). When the group’s manager decided to create a sister act called The Primettes, he made Florence its founding member. She recruited Mary Wilson, Diane Ross, and Betty McGlown to form the quartet in 1958. Soon after, Florence was raped at knife point by a high school basketball player. She went into seclusion for a while and dropped out of high school, but eventually rejoined The Primettes. 

By 1960, they signed to Berry Gordy’s Tamla Records (later Motown) and were relaunched as The Supremes. Their first few singles didn’t chart and they were jokingly referred to as “the no-hit Supremes.” Finally, they topped the charts with “Where Did Our Love Go” in 1964. Their next four singles all reached No. 1 and within a year The Supremes were international stars. But there was tension in the group because Berry Gordy considered Diane (now going by Diana) the star. He was having an affair with Diana and gave her all the songs to sing lead. Florence became depressed and struggled with her weight and alcohol. She began missing shows and recording dates.

Berry Gordy groomed another singer, Cindy Birdsong, to replace her. After Florence got drunk before a show at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas in 1967, she was kicked out of the group and sent back to Detroit. For her tenure with The Supremes which included ten No. 1 singles, she was given a one-time payment of $139,804. As part of the agreement, she wasn’t allowed to promote herself as a former Supreme or even mention any association with Motown Records. 

Florence tried to launch a solo career, but after her two singles failed to chart in 1968, ABC Records shelved her album.

She married Thomas Chapman, they had three children between 1968 and 1971. Her husband was reportedly abusive and he left her in 1971.

Florence ended up on welfare and her house was foreclosed. She sued Motown for royalties but lost. Now at rock bottom, Florence entered rehab. Her situation improved when she won an insurance settlement and was able to buy house for her family in 1975. Florence reconciled with her husband and returned to singing. She was attempting to revive her career when she died from cardiac arrest (caused by a blood clot) at 32 years old on February 21, 1976.

Vinyl Is Better

Marvin Gaye and his wife Anna Gordy (elder sister of Berry Gordy) pose for portraits in New York City,

June 1963.

Anna was a composer, songwriter and record executive. Born in 1922, she was 17 years older than Marvin, they married in 1963. She was the inspiration for his music like the song “Pride and Joy” and the album

“Here, My Dear.”In 1966, they had a son Marvin Gaye IIIAnna at 44, was unable to have children so she faked the pregnancy in public. In reality the biological mother was Anna’s 17-year-old niece Denise Gordy who conceived the child with 27-year-old Marvin. Anna and Marvin separated in 1972. Devastated, Gaye re-wrote the ballad “Just to Keep You Satisfied.” In 1975, Anna filed for divorce and it was finalized in 1977. In the divorce decree, he agreed to give her a portion of his royalties for his next album, “Here, My Dear.” Anna died in 2014, she was 92.

Diana Ross

at home with husband, music executive and businessman Robert Ellis Silberstein, and her daughter Rhonda in October 1971.

Diana married Robert in January 1971, he knew Rhonda (born August 14, 1971) wasn’t his when my Diana was pregnant but he still raised her as his own. For years they kept this a secret from the public and Rhonda as well. Rhonda was 13 years old when she discovered that Berry Gordy is her biological father.

The Supremes, the Miracles, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder and Martha and the Vandellas arrive in London for the Tamla-Motown Revue tour of the UK, March 1965.

The tour was an important milestone in Motown’s international expansion. Starting at the Astoria, Finsbury Park, the tour proceeded to 20 other venues in 21 days, including the Wigan ABC, Newcastle City Hall and the Odeon, Glasgow. Two performances a night were scheduled; ticket sales outside London were so poor that Georgie Fame was added to the bill in an attempt to broaden the show’s appeal.

Vinyl Is Better!