Motown Records, the company that boosted such black singers as Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder to stardom, has been sold to MCA Inc. and an investment banking firm for $61 million.

The long-rumored purchase of the nation's best-known black-owned business gives MCA the Motown label, Motown spokeswoman Rosalind Stevenson said.Berry Gordy Jr., the former Detroit autoworker who built the label into a huge force in pop music that appealed to blacks and whites, retains the company's sheet music and film businesses, Stevenson said.

MCA, the Los Angeles-based entertainment conglomerate that already served as U.S. distributor for Motown, will put up 20 percent of the purchase price, and Boston Ventures, an investment banking firm, the rest.

"In today's economy, the big get bigger and the small get extinct," Gordy told the entertainment paper Daily Variety. "In order to prevent that from happening, and to ensure the perpetuation of Motown and its heritage, I decided to clasp hands with one of the most formidable giants in our business, MCA."