Entertainment Lead Story Music West Edition

HIGHER GROUND: City honors Motown Records founder with Berry Gordy Square

HOLLYWOOD — Living music legend Berry Gordy was honored by the city of Los Angeles Nov. 25 when the intersection at Sunset Boulevard and Argyle Avenue was named Berry Gordy Square.

Nearly 300 people gathered to witness the ceremony honoring the Motown Records founder, producer and songwriter. Celebrity attendees included Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Thelma Houston, Debbie Allen, Clarence Avant and Judge Greg Mathis.

“This honor is long overdue,” Robinson said. “Berry has made my life something that I never thought was possible. … As far as I’m concerned, there should be a square like this in every city in the world. … There had never been anything like Motown and there will never be anything like Motown.”

“I agree with Smokey that all of the world should have such a square [to represent] us as a united people of this nation and show that hate can never tear us apart,” Wonder said.

Gordy founded Motown Records in Detroit in 1959. The music company released soul and R&B classics that reached across a racial divide to transform American popular music. At Motown, Gordy discovered superstars, including Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, and the Jackson 5. He also released the recorded speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.

Motown grew to become the largest black-owned business in America. In 1974, the company relocated to 6255 Sunset Blvd., the same location where the Nov. 25 dedication ceremony was held.

This is the latest honor that Gordy has received. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the 2015 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama. He also was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017.

“I never imagined I would end up here, a poor kid from the east side of Detroit,” Gordy said. “By honoring me, you’re also honoring the entire Motown family who followed me down roads that didn’t even exist and laughed and cried and lived and died to make Motown what it is today.”

“I feel so blessed and so happy,” Gordy told the crowd. “I deeply love you all.”

At the end of the ceremony, Wonder led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to Gordy, who’s 90th birthday is Nov. 28.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote, “Mr. Gordy, the world is a better place because of Motown Records and your desire to make music for all people. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor.”