Berry Gordy has announced his retirement from public life.
Two months shy of his 90th birthday, and marking the label's 60th anniversary, the Motown founder made the announcement during the Hitsville Honors ceremony in Detroit.
Capping a half-hour speech, Gordy told the audience at Orchestra Hall. "As I stand here I'm back where I started. I have come full circle, so it is only appropriate that...I should announce my retirement."
More than 45 years after moving with his label to L.A, Gordy noted that returning to Detroit "has been overwhelming to me" and that "the love I'm getting from being here is different than anything I've ever gotten in my life... The Motown legacy remains the music we made for all people that reminds us that we are all the same, that music has no color. It gives voice to honest feelings and helps us understand each other."
The night also featured performances by Motown legends Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (doing "Dancing in the Street"), The Four Tops, with the surviving co-founder Duke Fakir ("Reach Out I'll Be There," "Standing in the Shadows of Love" and "I Can't Help Myself") and The Temptations 'current lineup, stepping to and singing "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "My Girl."
Stevie Wonder, preparing for his kidney transplant, sent a video tribute, as did Gordy's longtime pal Smokey Robinson. Diana Ross, Motown's greatest '60s star, missed the gala, but Rhonda Ross, Gordy's daughter with Diana, sat at the head table with her father.
Earlier in the day, Gordy was on hand at the groundbreaking for the $50 million expansion of Detroit's Motown Museum. (Billboard)