*He was the savvy, yet compassionate vice president of corporate affairs for the storied Motown Records, who helped his younger brother globally brand the company, first from Detroit and later from Los Angeles.
He was an impactful member of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, who influenced the organization to recognize and honor more African American celebrities with stars on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame’ in Los Angeles.
He was… the incomparable Fuller B. Gordy, the oldest brother of Motown Records’ founder and chief architect, Berry Gordy, Jr.
Fuller B. Gordy (Mr. 700) died on November 9, 1991. However, an organization called “Friends of Fuller B. Gordy,” continues to honor his life and contributions that empowered people from all walks of life. Created by his daughter, Iris Gordy and granddaughter, Karla Gordy Bristol, the organization held its Eighth Annual Strikefest in mid-November at Jillian’s Universal City Walk in Universal City, California.
Inspired by Fuller B. Gordy’s love, proclivity, and superior ability as a bowler, both Iris Gordy and Gordy Bristol decided to present an annual event that would bring out many of the people and organizations that he influenced.
“My father was a great bowler. He was the first black bowler from the State of Michigan to be inducted into the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA),” said Iris Gordy, who has discovered, produced and/or managed many Motown acts and recording projects. “So we wanted to encompass an event with the sport that he loved so much.”
Iris Gordy continued. “He was known as Mr. 700,” she said. “Everybody knows in bowling, 300 is a perfect game, and in a three-game set, a perfect score is 900. My father used to roll so many strikes and have 200-plus games – year-after-year. He consistently bowled and had 700-plus scores in three-game sets. That’s how he got the name Mr. 700. I put it on his grave’s headstone in Detroit.”
Both Iris and Karla describe Strikefest as a festive and fun-filled bowling event which includes great food, live music performances, a silent auction, and more. The event brings out Gordy family members, former Motown artists, friends, and celebrities from various sectors of the entertainment industry.
The recent Strikefest featured a performance by R&B legend Evelyn “Champaign” King. Past performers have included Teena Marie, Howard Hewitt, Thelma Houston, Ollie Woodson, Freda Payne, Scherrie Payne, Brenda Holloway, and many more.
Among this year’s celebrity attendees were Victor Orlando, Judy Pace, Obba Babatunde, Roz Ryan, Alonzo Williams, Lee Bailey and others. According to Iris Gordy, her Uncle Berry Gordy attends every year, with the exception of one. His competitive nature kicks in when he picks up a bowling ball, as he has won several event trophies, such as for the most strikes and having the highest bowling score in his lane. “He’s been very supportive of this event that honors and carries on the legacy of his big brother,” Iris Gordy said. “He comes out and has lots of fun.”
The event also serves as a fundraisers for one non-profit organization each year. This year the event benefited the Challengers Boys and Girls Club in South Central Los Angeles. Over the years, other non-profit organizations that have benefited include League of Allied Arts, EmpowHer Institute, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and The Menformation Project.
“We try to focus more on youth-based charities because my grandfather was about mentorship and helping young people better their lives,” said Gordy Bristol, CEO of Gordy Bristol Entertainment and executive producer of ten short films. “We want to help organizations based on his life of philanthropy.”
Iris Gordy added.
“My father was a great humanitarian, a really nice and wonderful person who loved to help people,” she said. “He was cool and had a real zest for life; he was my hero.”
“He was supportive of everything that I did,” Gordy Bristol said. “I worked for him at Motown for two years and learned so much. I also used to accompany him to Hollywood Chamber of Commerce meetings and watch him fight for minorities to get stars on the ‘Walk of Fame.” He pushed hard for more diversity and was successful.”
According to Iris Gordy, there’s been a demand from people wanting her to expand the Fuller B. Gordy Strikefest to other American cities, such as Las Vegas, Sacramento, Atlanta and Detroit.
“I would love to do it in Detroit, which we may do because there are so many former Motown employees and artists and friends, and of course, so many family members there,” she said. “But it’s a nice fit where we are. It works because it’s a uniquely designed boutique event. If it were larger, I’m not sure if it would work, but we’ll see. Right now, we are just looking forward to Strikefest No. 9 here in Los Angeles. “We’ll start planning in January.”
For more information on Strikefest, or on the life and legacy of Fuller B. Gordy, log on to www.friendsoffuller.org.
Check out snaps from the the most recent “Strikefest” in November: