Founder of the Motown Records Berry Gordy, Jr. attends the Ebony Power 100 Gala on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
Motown founder Berry Gordy recalls that when he first signed The Jackson 5, he sent them to live in a house in California — and the rowdy kids ended up getting kicked out and had to move in with him.
Joked Gordy: “Be careful what you wish for.”
On Monday, Marlon Jackson thanked Gordy for “letting us come to your house and tear it up,” as well as for putting them on the path to a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career in a tribute to Gordy at the Ebony Power 100 gala.
“Michael and his brothers were just incredible to be around,” he said of the group, fronted by the late Michael Jackson. “I’m happy they’re here.”
Gordy danced along with the rest of the crowd as the Jacksons — Marlon, Jermaine, Jackie and Tito — performed hits such as “Shake Your Body Down to the Ground” and “I Want You Back.”
Gordy received a lifetime achievement award at the event, which honored blacks who are wielding considerable power, such as President Barack Obama, Forest Whitaker, commentator Van Jones, educator Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Serena Williams.
Among those in attendance were Magic Johnson, Victor Cruz, Lala Vasquez and Condola Rashad. Nick Cannon was the host of the ceremony, which also featured a performance from the actors from “Motown: The Musical.”
Gordy, whose Motown Records not only changed music history but also America’s culture with its sound and image, recalled that the first major cover the label got for its artists was Ebony magazine.
“It was the Supremes. They had no idea how much it meant to us,” said Gordy, who took a copy of the cover out of his pocket to show the audience.
Gordy said Ebony magazine, which has chronicled black culture for decades, was integral to his success.
“I feel like I’ve come full circle because I’m back here at Ebony again,” Gordy said. “I really feel like I should be giving them an award because they were so important to giving us the confidence.”
Besides the musical tribute, the Jacksons gave Gordy a plaque of platinum records marking the millions of records they sold as part of Motown Records.