Posts Tagged ‘Motown’

Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland

Lamont Dozier is “one of the greatest songwriters of the last century. His writings have been covered by a huge array of performers over the decades.

“As part of Motown’s Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team, the trio scored 25 top ten pop hits between 1963 and 1968, which included the Supremes,” the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, and Martha and the Vandellas.

That link well tells Lamont’s progression from vocalist to becoming part of a writing and production team with Eddie Holland and his brother Brian. Success followed big time, but eventually HDH left the Motown roster, writing more songs.

Lamont Dozier recalls he and Brian [Holland] came up with “Band of Gold” and “Give Me Just a Little More Time”, but “we didn’t put our names on ’em because we were in a lawsuit and couldn’t use our names.”

There’s a description of Heaven Must Have Sent You… the Holland/Dozier/Holland Story anthology, which lists some of their biggest hits, with a tease of those songs at the website. HDH were interviewed when that came out.

The trio was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

“Lamont is married to Barbara Ullman Dozier and has 3 children (two sons and one daughter with Barbara).
His sons are named Beau Alexandre and Paris Ray and his daughter is named Desiree Starr.”

Listen to:
(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave – Martha & the Vandellas
Mickey’s Monkey – The Miracles
Can I Get a Witness – Marvin Gaye
Quicksand – Martha & the Vandellas
Leaving Here – Eddie Holland

When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes – Dusty Springfield
Where Did Our Love Go – The Supremes
Baby I Need Your Loving – The Four Tops
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) – Marvin Gaye
Nowhere to Run – Martha & the Vandellas

Back in My Arms Again – The Supremes
I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) – The Four Tops
Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) – Kim Weston
It’s the Same Old Song – The Four Tops
This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak For You) – The Isley Brothers

Love’s Gone Bad – Chris Clark
Reach Out I’ll Be There – The Four Tops
Heaven Must Have Sent You – The Elgins
I’m Ready For Love – Martha & the Vandellas
(Come ‘Round Here) I’m the One You Need – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

Standing in the Shadows of Love – The Four Tops
Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone – The Supremes
Jimmy Mack – Martha & the Vandellas
Bernadette – The Four Tops
Give Me Just a Little More Time – Chairmen of the Board

Band of Gold – Freda Payne
Don’t Do It – The Band
Forever Came Today – The Jackson 5
My World Is Empty Without You – Lamont Dozier
You’ve Got It – Simply Red, written by Lamont Dozier

More Supremes songs can be found at the 20140306 post of this blog.

‘The Supremes A’ Go-Go’ Reissue: Mary Wilson, Lamont Dozier Look Back on the Landmark Girl Group Album.

For ABC Wednesday

Among the wealth of artists that performed on the Motown labels in 1960s, I probably know about Junior Walker the least. He was born Autry DeWalt-Mixom, Jr. in Blythesville, Arkansas on 14 June 1931. He grew up in South Bend, Indiana.

He started his band, the Jumping Jacks, and his good friend, drummer Billy Nicks, had a group, the Rhythm Rockers, but the two would play on each other’s gigs. Since Nicks had a local TV show in South Bend, he asked Walker to join his band.

When Nicks got drafted, Walker convinced the group to move to Battle Creek, Michigan. After some personnel and name changes, the All Stars were signed by Harvey Fuqua to his Harvey records. “Fuqua’s labels were taken over by Motown’s Berry Gordy, and Jr. Walker & the All Stars [the usual spelling] became members of the Motown family, recording for their Soul imprint in 1964.”

The group’s first big hit was “Shotgun” in 1965, which “uses only one chord throughout the entire song — A-flat seventh. Other songs featuring this same structure (or non-structure) are Chain of Fools and Land of 1000 Dances.” The song is in the Grammy and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. The All Stars were in a particular groove. The song appeared in several movies, including Malcolm X.

I have this Motown LP box set that explains that there was a songwriter – it doesn’t identify who, but it was either Johnny Bristol, who discovered the group; Fuqua, who took Bristol’s suggestion; or a guy named Vernon Bullock. The songwriter pitched the song to Junior, but he said it wasn’t his thing.

The next year, the songwriter said he still had that song, and Walker reluctantly agreed to record “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” in 1969. “A Motown quality control meeting rejected this song for single release, but radio station DJs made the track popular, resulting in Motown releasing it as a single.”

Junior Walker died of cancer on 23 November 1995 at the age of 64 in Battle Creek.

Listen to:

Shotgun, #4 pop, #1 rhythm & blues for four weeks in 1965 here or here

(I’m A) Road Runner, #20 pop, #4 r&b in 1966 here or here

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), #18 pop, #3 r&b in 1966 here or here

What Does It Take (To Win Your Love), #4 pop, #1 r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

These Eyes, #16 pop, # r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

Urgent (Foreigner, with Jr. Walker on sax solo), #3 pop in 1981, here or here

Urgent, 1983, appears in 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan, here or here

Round 20 of ABC Wednesday.

David, Melvin, Paul, Otis, Eddie

David, Melvin, Paul, Otis, Eddie

There are lots of groups out there that have the name of an old-time group, but with Otis Williams in the Temptations, the link to the original group is sustained.

“Williams was born Otis Miles, Jr. in Texarkana, Texas to Otis Miles and Hazel Louise Williams… While he was still a toddler, his mother married and moved to Detroit, Michigan, leaving the younger Otis Miles to be raised by both of his grandmothers in Texarkana. Hazel Williams moved her son to Detroit when he was ten years old, where he lived with his mother and his stepfather.”

The history of The Temptations is way too complicated to go through here, but Otis was in several groups, honing his craft. The original lineup of group called The Temptations was Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Elbridge “Al” Bryant, Eddie Kendricks, and Paul Williams (no relation). Read the rest of this entry »

rare earthRare Earth was NOT the first all-white group signed by Motown. The Wikipedia cites The Rustix, The Dalton Boys, and The Underdogs as predecessors on the label; I actually have a couple Underdogs tracks on some compilations.

But the group, which had started up in high school as “The Sunliners”, decided, after seven years to change the name of the band to “Rare Earth”, and ended up as clearly the most successful white band on the label.

Motown Record Corporation approached Rare Earth in the latter part of 1968 to sign a recording contract. At first the group was reluctant to sign Read the rest of this entry »

jimmy ruffin.The Ruffin brothers show up on a collection called Motown 20 Hard-to-Find Classics. One of them also appeared on records that were quite easy to find.

Jimmy and David Ruffin were born in rural Mississippi, to Eli, a sharecropper/factor worker/miner/Baptist minister, depending on the source, and Ophelia Ruffin. “As children, the brothers began singing with a gospel group, the Dixie Nightingales.”

Jimmy Ruffin (born Jimmie Lee Ruffin) (May 7, 1936 – November 17, 2014) became a singer for Motown in 1961, but soon was drafted into the Army. He returned to the label, but had difficulty getting a hit.

“In 1966, he heard a song about unrequited love written for The Spinners, and persuaded the writers that he should record it himself. His recording of ‘What Becomes of the Brokenhearted’ became a major success,” and remains his best-known song. Follow-ups in the US were successful, with “I’ve Passed This Way Before” and “Gonna Give Her All the Love I’ve Got” reaching the US charts in late 1966 and early 1967. He also teamed up with brother David to record the album I Am My Brother’s Keeper, a modestly successful 1970 album for Motown.

“Jimmy Ruffin concentrated on the British market, had three UK top ten songs, and “he was voted the world’s top singer in one British poll.” He had later success working with the likes of Robin Gibb and Paul Weller.

Davis Eli “David” Ruffin (January 18, 1941 – June 1, 1991) grew up in the music business. He met future Motown founder Berry Gordy in 1957, and for a time, packed records for Gordy’s Anna Records with Marvin Gaye. Eventually, he started recording at the label with a group called the Voice Masters, which included future Motown producer/songwriter Lamont Dozier, and the four members of The Originals.

“Ruffin became a member of the Temptations after founding member Elbridge ‘Al’ Bryant was fired from the group. Ruffin’s first recording session with the group was January 9, 1964. Though both David and Jimmy were considered, David was given the edge, thanks to his performance skills.”

Ruffin went from being a background singer, the lead singer after Smokey Robinson, the group’s primary producer/songwriter, created “My Girl”, which became the Temptations’ first #1 song in early 1965. “Ruffin’s most notable non-vocal contribution to the Temptations was the masterminding of their trademark four-headed microphone stand. This enabled the other members to sing and do their dances without having to crowd around one microphone while the lead singer would sing into a separate microphone.”

By 1967, however, difficulties with Ruffin became an issue for the group. He became addicted to cocaine and began missing rehearsals and performances… After the Supremes had their name changed to Diana Ross & the Supremes in early 1967, Ruffin felt that he should become the focal point of the Temptations, just as Diana Ross was for her group, and began demanding that the group name be changed to David Ruffin & the Temptations. This led to a number of disagreements between Ruffin and the group’s de facto leader, Otis Williams.

In addition to the group’s problems with Ruffin’s ego, he began inquiring into the Temptations’ financial records, demanding an accounting of the group’s money. This caused friction between Ruffin and Gordy.

david-ruffin
He was fired on June 27, 1968 when he missed a show to watch his girlfriend perform, and was “replaced with Dennis Edwards, a former member of The Contours.” But then, “Ruffin began turning up unannounced at Temptations concerts during Edwards’ first few dates with the group,” which the audience loved but the group did not.

Ruffin and Motown sued each other, the settlement of which meant Ruffin stayed with Motown to finish out his initial contract. “Ruffin joined Motown as a solo artist and always had a separate contract from the other Temptations, which some felt caused a lot of the in-fighting within the group.”

His first solo single was a song originally intended for the Temptations, “My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)”. The single (from the album also entitled My Whole World Ended) was released in 1969. His final Top Ten hit was 1975’s “Walk Away from Love”, produced by Van McCoy. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in February 1976.

As I have mentioned, in 1982, Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks re-joined the Temptations for the recording of their album Reunion and toured to promote the album. I saw them perform at the Colonie Coliseum near Albany. My recollection is that it was one of the greatest pop musical performances I’ve ever seen.

Apparently, I caught them on a good day, because the reunion tour was short lived, “as Ruffin started to miss shows as a result of his cocaine addiction, leading the group to be fined thousands of dollars. Otis Williams fired Ruffin from the group for the second and final time (along with Kendricks, whose voice was weakened due to heavy smoking) by Christmas 1982.”

David Ruffin would die from that cocaine addiction, and his brother Jimmy would become an anti-drug advocate.

Links

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted — Jimmy Ruffin. Background vocals by the Originals and the Andantes 3:03. #7 Hot 100, #6 on the R&B Chart in 1966. It also initially reached #10 in the UK singles chart, rising to #4 when it was reissued in the UK in 1974. Listen HERE or HERE.
I’ve Passed This Way Before — Jimmy Ruffin. #17 pop, #10 soul in 1967. Listen HERE or HERE.

Walk Away From Love — David Ruffin. #1 US R&B, #9 pop in early 1976. Listen HERE. Extended version HERE or HERE.
My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me) — David Ruffin. #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, #2 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart. Listen HERE or HERE.

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