Berry Gordy On Motown: 'I Was In Charge, But I Made Logic The Boss' (VIDEO)

06/18/2013 10:21 am 10:21:18

As the legendary founder of Motown, Berry Gordy is the mastermind behind some of music's biggest names and hit records -- but he didn't do it all on his own. In Hitsville, USA, Motown's first headquarters created in 1959, Gordy decided on a democratic but fiercely competitive approach to the staff meetings that would determine which songs to release next. He called them "quality control" meetings.

Gordy opened up about what went on behind closed doors of those quality control meetings during his interview on "Oprah's Master Class." Though there were fights as Motown producers and workers pushed for their favorite records, Gordy says the unrestricted ability to challenge one another was key in releasing hit after hit.

"One of my philosophies or sayings was that competition breeds champions," he says. "We competed on the songs. [But] they knew in that quality control meeting that they were immune to any kind of repercussions or anything."

Rather, there was a sense of safety during the Motown meetings, which allowed everyone to freely express themselves and argue their points. "In my company, I created this whole atmosphere of safety of ideas and thoughts," Gordy explains. "I was in charge, but I made logic the boss."

Gordy even encouraged his Motown colleagues to attack him during the meetings if they disagreed. "We were on equal ground there, in these meetings," he says. "We had major fights. 'My record's better than yours!' And [I'd say], 'So put it up! Put it up there, baby. Be my guest.'"

During these meetings, there was one question Gordy posed to the group to help determine if a record was truly a hit: If you had one dollar and you were hungry, would you buy the record or a hot dog? "People would say, 'Oh, that record, by far.' And somebody would say, 'I'd buy the hot dog,'" Gordy recalls. "It worked very, very well for a while."

In the video, Gordy also talks about how love and collaboration factored into the competition, revealing what could make the process fall apart, even after its long-standing success.

"Oprah's Master Class" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.

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