Signed Berry Gordy: “Don’t judge yourself by others’ standards...”
Berry Gordy could be the greatest record man in American music history. From a modest wood-frame home in Detroit he built Motown Records, which in the 1960s and ’70s grew to become the most successful independent record label in America, producing some of the greatest, most enduring popular music in history.
It didn’t start out that way though. An ex shoe shiner, failed boxer and failed record store owner, he always believed he was going to make his mark on the world and specifically in music. After trying his hand at writing and not realizing the success he was looking for he decided to try his own record label.
In 1959, Gordy formed his first label, Tamla Records, eventually becoming Motown Records, and purchased the property that would become Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. studio, in Detroit Michigan. Within seven years, Motown would occupy seven additional neighboring houses while ushering in the careers of legendary artists like Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Diana Ross. By the end of 1966, Motown had hired over 450 employees and had a gross income of $20 million. For decades Motown was the highest-earning African American business in the United States. Motown Records was inducted into Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame in 2018.
This document is an amazing piece of music history, memorializing one of Berry Gordy’s historic deals, this one with the late great Sammy Davis Jr. In which Davis sells back his interest to Gordy in a music label(Ecology) that they started together. This Berry Gordy Jr. and Sammy Davis Jr. contract, dated October 28, 1971, has been beautifully signed by both Berry Gordy and Sammy Davis Jr, above their indicated signature lines, on the lower half of the contract.
Above the contract is an authentic antique original Photo, from the period, showing Berry Gordy at his desk. Below both photo and document, we have included one of Gordy’s famous and inspiring quotes, that really speaks to Gordy’s mindset and how he was able to accomplish what he did.
“Don’t judge yourself by others’ standards…have your own. And don’t get caught up into the trap of changing yourself to fit the world. The world has to change to fit you.” -Berry Gordy Jr.
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