Recording artist, songwriter, producer, and music executive, Robert Louis Gordy, Sr., younger brother of Motown founder, Berry Gordy, passed away from natural causes, Friday evening, October 21, 2022, at his home in Marina del Rey, CA. He was 91.
“I am deeply saddened by the sudden passing of my younger brother, Robert,” stated Berry Gordy. “He was absolutely the best lil’ brother anyone could ever hope for. His ability to succeed at whatever he attempted or that I threw his way, amazed me over the years. I will miss his love, his support, and his loyalty.”
Robert was born July 15, 1931, in Detroit, MI, the youngest of eight children, to Berry “Pop” Gordy, Sr. and Bertha Gordy. He was preceded in death by his eldest son, Robert, Jr., and his wife, Theresa.
Growing up, he made his foray into boxing, like his older brother, Berry. He then started his music career under the pseudonym, Bob Kayli, in 1958 with the novelty hit “Everyone Was There,” written by Robert and Berry, which he performed on the Dick Clark TV show.
Robert was multi-talented. While at Motown, he discovered his passion as a songwriter, producer, and engineer, and contributed to various hits. In his first ever acting role, he gave a brilliant performance of the drug pusher, “Hawk” in the movie, “Lady Sings The Blues” in 1972.
Robert always liked unique challenges. When he took over the reins of Jobete Music Publishing, he didn’t have much experience in the publishing area, but his brother, Berry, knew that whatever Robert took on, he’d strive to be a master at it – and he was. He brilliantly ran Jobete for over twenty years, moving it from a holder of song copyrights into a highly profitable international publishing company.
He was a very private person, but he enjoyed time with his family, as well as a competitive game of golf and chess with Berry and close friends, Smokey Robinson and Mickey Stevenson.
Robert is survived by his three children, Roxanna Wright, Rodney Gordy and Fuller Gordy; his brother, Berry Gordy; four grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, his dear friend Pamela Davis, and a host of nephews, nieces, and other relatives.
Funeral services are pending, and in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Motown Museum in Detroit, MI.