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Barney Ales....The Master Of Motown!

During my career in the music industry, I have had the opportunity of meeting some great people; both men and women. However; it was not until I met Barney Ales, that I really had the chance to see one of the most powerful men in the music industry in action. Since I was promoting product for Motown Records at the time (1964), I had an excellent insider's view.

He sat in a humble office located upstairs at Hitsville on West Grand Boulevard in the Motor City....Detroit, Michigan. From there Barney controlled the flow of Motown Records' product all over the world.

For years, many people speculated that Barney owned Motown, not Berry Gordy. Berry was an astute businessman and knew he needed a white man to front Motown in order to collect monies from the (mostly white) distributors and rack jobbers. Berry could have made no better choice than Barney Ales.

Knowing the potential of the Motown machine; discerning the machine's many talents (including his own) and knowing how to collect the rewards....was Barney's talent.

This interview with Mr. Ales was recorded at his home in Malibu several months ago on a mini-cassette recorder. I have been holding back the interview because I couldn't figure how I wanted to produce it. I have decided to run the interview alone (sans music cuts) as the discussion is quite informative (and humorous) by itself. The interview is totally un-edited.

There are four parts to this interview. BluePower will run one part per week. Anyone remotely interested in the music business of the Motown era and of that time period will want to tune in to a talk with one of the most fascinating men to ever work the music industry.

Let's put it this way....Barney Ales has an incredible sense of business acumen and used it to grow one of the most prestigious and profitable entertainment companies of all time; Motown Records.

John Rhys/

Barney Ales....The Master Of Motown


  • I have had the opportunity to recently meet Barney myself through his grandson. What an amazing man; even now he still finds joy in listening to music from when Motown was at it's height.
  • What a amazing story. I grew up with Baney's brother Don's son Don. I used to spend summers at his parent's cottage back in Fenton as a kid. The Ales Family were always wonderful to me.

    Motown would never have been the company they were if not for the business genius of Mr. Ales. His warmth and personality was contagious to all that meet him.

    Jim Pratt

    PS-please pass on to Don that I would love to hear from him. I live in Rockford, MI now.
  • ...Berry was an astute businessman and knew he needed a white man to front Motown in order to collect monies from the (mostly white) distributors and rack jobbers...

    Is there no end to racism in America???