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Bob Kayli

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Bob Kayli is Robert L. Gordy, Berry Gordy's brother, and the youngest son of the late Bertha and Pop Gordy's children. Robert Gordy admired his older brother Berry, though he was an honor student and reportedly the most level-headed. He even boxed like Berry, as did brother Fuller, but neither had Berry's desire. The first Bob Kayli recording, "Everyone Was There," came out in 1958. Berry leased it to Carlton Records; it sold well until Kayli made personal appearances and the public discovered he was black. Record sales screeched to a halt, and Berry didn't receive any further requests for appearances. As Kayli, Robert sang in an incredulous folksy voice; supposedly, Robert had a nice tenor voice but you would never know it from the Kayli recordings. He worked at the Post Office until Motown started hitting on all cylinders. He left the government job for an entry-level position in Motown's engineering department. He didn't record again until the November 1961 single "Small Sad Sam" (b/w "Tie Me Tight"), an answer to Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John" that died upon release. (It sounds like a middle-aged man reciting the words to a tale about a pathetic little dude named Sam, with the unmistakable voices of the Supremes crooning "small sad Sam...small sad Sam" over and over in the background.) Mercifully, Motown didn't release any more Bob Kayli recordings. When his sister Loucye died in the mid-'60s, he became the head of Jobete Music, and apparently ran the publishing company like a military platoon. Outside of Motown he was Bobby; at Motown he was Robert L., the no-nonsense brother of Berry Gordy, Jr. ~ Andrew Hamilton

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