Motown founder Berry Gordy has experienced a tremendous career full of success and worked with some of the world’s most iconic artists. The legendary producer is the brains behind huge hits like “I Want You Back” and “ABC” by The Jackson 5. The Grammy nominee was married three times throughout his career that has spanned more than six decades.
Berry pursued a boxing career in the early ‘50s before he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Once he returned home from the war, the hitmaker married his first wife, Thelma Coleman, in 1953. The pair welcomed three children together during their marriage: Hazel Joy Gordy, Berry Gordy IV and Terry James Gordy. The couple divorced in 1959.
Berry’s rise as a legend in the music industry began in 1957 when he met soul singer Jackie Wilson. She recorded his song, “Reet Petite,” the first of many collaborations between the pair over the years. Soon after, Berry was introduced to Smokey Robinson, who encouraged him to open up his own record label. He never imagined the success that the label would bring him in its early days.
“When I started out, all I wanted to do was write some songs, make some money and get some girls — not necessarily in that order, which was not unlike the majority of the guys in my neighborhood,” the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s Pioneer Award winner told Billboard in June 2017. “Most of my early songs were written on some kind of truth of my own situation. For example, when I was broke, I needed money, so I wrote a song called ‘Money (That’s What I Want).’”
The Mahogany producer married his second wife, Raynoma Singleton, in 1960. The pair had one child together, son Kerry Gordy, before they split in 1964. Berry married his third wife, Grace Eaton, in 1990. Their marriage lasted until 1993. He also welcomed four more children from other relationships during his career including actress Rhonda Ross with Diana Ross, daughter Sherry Gordy with Jeana Jackson and son Kennedy William Gordy with Margaret Norton. He is also the father of Stefan Kendal Gordy, better known as Redfoo, with producer Nancy Leiviska.
Who was Berry’s first ex-wife, Thelma Coleman?
Not much is known about Berry’s first marriage to Thelma. At the time, the music mogul was just getting his feet wet with creating music and hiring a team of people at his popular Motown label.
Who was Berry Gordy’s second ex-wife, Raynoma Singleton?
Ray was also a producer and songwriter who auditioned in front of Berry in the late ‘50s. Impressed with her ability to arrange music, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee brought Ray into his circle to help put together a group of background vocalists. They began working as a duo under Rayber Music Writing Company and later fell in love. She was already a mother to a son Cliff Liles from her first marriage.
When Ray and Berry’s marriage came to an end, she moved on with her third husband, Eddie Singleton. The couple, who formed a record label of their own, welcomed son William Edward Singleton Jr. and daughter Rya Singleton together. Ray died in November 2016 after battling brain cancer.
Who is Berry Gordy’s third ex-wife, Grace Eaton?
Grace and Berry’s marriage lasted three years, and the pair did not have any children together. Though they did attend several red carpet events together during their relationship, most of the details of their marriage have remained private. The couple did, however, have several superstar guests at their 1990 Santa Barbra nuptials including Berry’s late friend Michael Jackson.