Berry Gordy Details Diana Ross Romance in 'Motown' Musical - Rolling Stone
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Berry Gordy Details Diana Ross Romance in ‘Motown’ Musical

Label founder also describes disagreement with Marvin Gaye over ‘What’s Goin’ On’

Berry Gordy was “madly in love” with Diana Ross, the Motown founder told CBS Sunday Morning yesterday as he prepares for the official Broadway opening April 14th of his Motown: The Musical.

“She was the big star of my life,” said Gordy, who recalled a powerful connection with Ross during a Motown show in Paris.

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His pursuit of the Supremes star didn’t yield immediate results, however. “That first night, I tried to make love to her and it didn’t happen. And that was like the most embarrassing thing of my life,” he said. “When you think of someone as a princess, the queen of your life, your mind plays tricks on you. And, of course, she made a joke out of it, and one which we use in the play. It’s like: ‘Well, you could look at it this way: At least you have power over everything else.'”

Gordy also didn’t see eye-to-eye with Marvin Gaye on Gaye’s 1971 album What’s Goin’ On. “I had a big fight with Marvin Gaye about him doing a protest album. I said ‘Why would you do a protest album?’ I said ‘What about your image?'” Gordy said. “And he said, ‘I don’t care about no goddamn image, I got a brother in Vietnam and I want to awaken the minds of mankind.'”

The success of the album convinced Gordy he had been mistaken. “When the record became the biggest record in our history at that time, I came to him and said, ‘Man, you were right.’ I learned a lot,” said Gordy.

After a long and fruitful career, Gordy feels it’s about time to step back. “I’m in heaven. I’m not sure I want to do this again, but it is a dream come true for me,” said Gordy. “It’s a labor of love, everything I’ve done. [The musical] is probably the last thing I’ll do.”


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