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Feature Friday: President Barney Ales ... Motown Records

Posted on September 4, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Mornin' Ginchers,

It's Feature Friday ... President Barny Ales, Motown Records ... Gordy's ace in the hole.  So the turbulent 1960's produced some of the greatest music in the history of music, how did this happen.  It was a time of social unrest, protests, civil rights, and a black owned record company decides to produce a mostly black stable of musicians and entertainers to America and call it the "Sounds of Young America" and make it part of the Pop Music Culture!  The man was Berry Gordy of Motown records ... is he insane?  Nope, just brilliant, creative, and a man looking for the American dream.  He was also a man that understood unity, talent and co-existance in a world that was troubled, enter Barney Ales.  Who you may say?  Barney Ales was born Baldassare Ales in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Sicilian born Sivestro Ales.  He attended Thomas Cooley High School and worked on a Dodge assembly line after graduating.  In the 1950's he took on his first music related job as a sales and promotion man for Capitol Records.  He developed contacts in the record stores and radio stations and moved over to Warner Bros. Records in 1959 as Detroit's branchmanager.  In 1960 Ales met Gordy and was hired as national sales and promotion manager for Gordy's new record company, Motown Records.  Barney built a team of diverse warriors to promote Motown Records and ensure the distribution across the national as well as international markets.  Motown was a music company and not an R&B company, it wasn't a soul company but rather the same as Capitol or Warner Bros. records devoted to making quality music.  Barney also was a song writer but known more for his marketing and promotion skills.  How about that ... a diverse group of people devoted to making quality music, working together to bring harmony to all in the country ...thus, "Sounds of Young America!"  I met Barney Ales when I took a trip to Detroit to visit a friend going to art school (Shaun).  We were invited to a Motown event at the Roostertail where friends of mine (The Contours) were performing and a lot of Motown people were in attendance.  I was in awe of Barney Ales ... he had a powerful, leadership personality that just brought people together.  As you can imagine, I was like a sponge taking in every word from the man.  Over the years Barney climbed the Motwon ladder and eventually became the President of Motwon Records.  As you all know from listening to my radio show on Sunday nights (Johnny Angel's Heavenly Soul Show on jukinoldies.com) I love the sounds of Young America and the success that Berry Gordy earned.  Till tomorrow, stay safe, stay healthy, help a neighbor when you can ... and, GOD Bless!

Johnny


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