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Encyclopedia > The Marvelettes
The Marvelettes

The Marvelettes
Origin Inkster, Michigan
Country United States
Years active 1960s
Genres R&B
Labels Motown
Past members Gladys Horton
Georgia Dobbins
Georgeanna Tillman
Wyanetta Cowart
Katherine Anderson
Wanda Young
Pamelia Darden
Alicia Ingrim

The Marvelettes was an American singing girl group on the Motown label. Motown's first successful female vocal group, the Marvelettes are most notable for recording the label's first US #1 pop hit, "Please Mr. Postman", and for setting the precedent for later Motown girl groups such as The Supremes and Martha Reeves & the Vandellas. Image File history File links The Marvelettes This image is of a music album or single cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher of the album or the artist(s) which produced the music in question. ... Inkster is a city in Wayne County of the U.S. state of Michigan. ... The 1960s decade refers to the years from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, inclusive. ... A music genre is a category (or genre) of pieces of music that share a certain style or basic musical language (van der Merwe 1989, p. ... Rhythm and blues (or R & B) is a musical marketing term introduced in the United States in the late 1940s by Billboard magazine. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Motown Records, Inc. ... The Marvelettes in the early 1960s. ... Ercole de Roberti: Concert, c. ... Girl group UC3 sing The Star-Spangled Banner for U.S. troops in Afghanistan A girl group is a musical group featuring several young female singers who generally harmonize together. ... Motown Records, Inc. ... Please Mr. ... The Supremes were a Motown all-female singing group. ... Martha and the Vandellas were an American Motown group of the 1960s. ...



The beginnings

The group that became the first Motown success story had pretty small beginnings. Lacking confidence in their singing abilities, Gladys Horton and Georgia Dobbins formed the Casinyets (or "Can't Sing Yets") in their hometown, Inkster, Michigan, with backing vocalists Georgeanna Tillman, Wyanetta (usually spelled "Juanita") Cowart, and Katherine Anderson. Image File history File links Information_icon. ... Inkster is a city in Wayne County of the U.S. state of Michigan. ...

In 1961 the quintet, now called The Marvels, entered the Inkster High School talent show, where they finished fourth. Though only the first three winners could win the prize of a trip to audition for the new Motown record company, an exception was made and they were allowed to audition as well. In April they did this for Motown executives Brian Holland and Robert Bateman, with the girls alternating lead parts. Berry Gordy, who walked in when Georgia was singing lead, scheduled a second audition, after asking if the group had any original material. At the next audition, Georgia arrived with pianist William Garrett, who had also written a few tunes. Flipping through his briefcase, she was drawn to a song that had only a few lyrics and no music. Georgia liked the title and wanted to change the tune from what Garrett had initially intended to be a blues song into something more favorable for a young girl group. Garrett agreed, as long as he was given songwriting credit along with Georgia. Georgia, who had no previous songwriting experience, took the tune home and reconstructed it into a song whose lyrics pointed to a girl missing her boyfriend who has been far away for a long time. That song turned out to be their first single and greatest hit, "Please Mr Postman." The group returned to Motown with the song and a new member, Wanda Young (later Rogers), who replaced Dobbins (whose church-going father was against the idea of his daughter singing in night clubs), giving them, like The Shirelles before them, two lead singers. They auditioned for Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson, and received a recording contract. 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1961 calendar). ... Motown Records, Inc. ... Berry Gordy, Jr. ... Please Mr. ... Berry Gordy, Jr. ... William Smokey Robinson, Jr. ...

Early success

Motown gave the Marvels the star treatment. Gordy renamed the group The Marvelettes and had "Please Mr. Postman" re-written for the group. Vocal coaches, etiquette teachers, fashion advisors, and others also worked on the group's image, and in the summer of 1961 their first single, "Please Mr. Postman," was released on the Tamla imprint, with Gladys Horton as the lead voice. The song proved to be a slow burner, not even entering the Billboard Pop Chart (now known as the Billboard Hot 100) until September 4th of that year. The song took fourteen weeks to hit number on the pop chart, a record for its time. The song also hit #1 on the Billboard R&B Chart. Motown Record Company, L.P., also known as Tamla-Motown outside of the United States, is a record label specializing in the musical genres of R&B, pop, soul music, and hip-hop music. ... The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. ...

In a short-sighted move, Motown execs released the vain "Twistin' Postman" to capitalize on both the success of the group's first single and the twist dance craze. Released in December of 1961, as the fad was dying down, the song only reached #34 on the pop chart and #13 at R&B. Despite this, The Marvelettes were becoming a popular touring group, going on various Motown ensemble tours and even a few solo outings. The next few years were a blur of publicity, concerts, and recording. As the first massively popular Motown act, they carried a lot of responsibility during this time. The word Twist has the following meanings: The Twist, 1960s dance Wing twist, change of the cross-section shape of a wing along the span. ...

Their sophomore album featured songs from many accomplished writers -- for example, Brian Holland, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Lamont Dozier. The hit album featured the hit singles "Playboy" (#4 R&B / #7 Pop), a catchy pop song, "Beechwood 4-5789" (#7 R&B / #17 Pop), which became the most popular telephone number in America before "867-5309", and the strictly rhythmic ballad "Someday, Someway" (#8 R&B). 867-5309/Jenny is a song written by Alex Call and Jim Keller and performed by Tommy Tutone which peaked at Number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1982. ...

Stumbling blocks

Not wanting to rest on their laurels, the group forged ahead, recording 'The Marvelous Marvelettes,' their third album. Despite their early successes, 1963 and their third album brought some measure of disappointment. Of the four singles released from the album, the album's second single, "Locking Up My Heart," fared the best, featuring Gladys as the main lead and Wanda on the latter portion on the tune singing falsetto. It peaked at #25 at R&B and #44 at Pop. Its first single, "Strange, I Know," broke the top ten at R&B, but only peaked at #49 at Pop. The excellent track "Forever," which featured Wanda Rogers as lead, because it initially released as a "b" side, and "My Daddy Knows Best" were relative flops. The group was also beginning to lose its footing at R&B radio, with "My Daddy Knows Best" failing to chart.

By 1964, The Marvelettes faced major competition, not only from Motown upstarts like Diana Ross & The Supremes and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, but from bands from the British Invasion and surf-pop movements. They made their biggest mistake that year by turning down a song entitled "Where Did Our Love Go" ,written by the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team. The Marvelettes chose to record Norman Whitfield and Eddie Holland's "Too Many Fish In The Sea" instead, which resulted in a minor hit. Meanwhile, Holland-Dozier-Holland took "Where Did Our Love Go?" to The Supremes, who made the song a #1 pop and R&B hit. By this time, founding member Juanita Cowart was suffering the ravages of depression. After a goof on American Bandstand in 1962, Cowart finally left the group. Motown press releases called it an "nervous breakdown." By 1965, Georgeanna Tillman was battling lupus. Weakened by her health problems, her doctor advised her to stop touring and she left the group for good. She remained at Motown for a while as a secretary. Georgeanna Tillman married Billy Gordon (of The Contours) in 1963. She left the group in 1965 due to illness. She died in 1980 due to complications of sickle cell anemia. The Marvelettes continued on as a trio. Reissue album cover showing The Supremes in 1966. ... ... Where Did Our Love Go is a 1964 hit song recorded by The Supremes for the Motown label. ... Holland-Dozier-Holland is a songwriting and production team made up of Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian Holland and Edward Holland, Jr. ... Norman Whitfield Norman Jesse Whitfield (born in Harlem, New York in 1943) was a songwriter and producer for Berry Gordys Motown label during the 1960s. ... Edward Holland, Jr. ... Dick Clark, host of American Bandstand American Bandstand was a long-running dance music television show that aired in various versions from 1952 to 1989. ... The Contours were one of the early soul singing groups signed to Motown Records. ... Sickle-shaped red blood cells Sickle cell anemia (American English), sickle cell anaemia (British English) or sickle cell disease is a genetic disease in which red blood cells may change shape under certain circumstances. ...

For the two years after 'The Marvelous Marvelettes,' the group depended on a series of mediocre singles, a hastlily put together album of their live performances ('Recorded Live On Stage') and a greatest hits compilation to stay afloat. While 'The Marvelettes Greatest Hits' and the follow-up LP simply entitled 'The Marvelettes' were relatively successful, many of the new songs from the Greatest Hits LP weren't memorable. The first three singles from the album, "As Long As I Know He's Mine," "He's A Good Guy (Yes He Is)," and "You're My Remedy" were flops, the most successful peaking at #47 at Pop. They peaked at #3, #18 and #16 respectively on the Cash Box R&B chart.

1967's self-titled The Marvelettes album.
1967's self-titled The Marvelettes album.

Image File history File links The Marvelettes This image is of a music album or single cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher of the album or the artist(s) which produced the music in question. ... Image File history File links The Marvelettes This image is of a music album or single cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher of the album or the artist(s) which produced the music in question. ...

The "comeback"

The group's first notable hit in nearly two years came at the end of 1964 with the Holland-Whitfield composition, "Too Many Fish in the Sea," which became a Motown classic, reaching #15 at R&B and #25 at Pop on the Billboard charts. It reached #5 on the Cash Box R&B chart. On the heels of newfound success, three more songs were released from their compilation LP, both penned by songwriters Mickey Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter and featuring Wanda in the lead: "I'll Keep Holding On" and "Danger! Heartbreak Dead Ahead" returned them to the hearts and the rhythm and blues audience, both peaking at #11 at R&B. William Mickey Stevenson was a songwriter and record producer for the Motown label until 1967, when he and wife Kim Weston left the company for MGM. Categories: Musician stubs | Motown songwriters and producers | Record producers | American songwriters ... Ivy Jo Hunter (born George Ivy Hunter) was a songwriter and record producer for the Motown label. ...

The final single from the Marvelettes' Greatest Hits compilation was a Smokey Robinson composition and marked the beginning of a long partnership with the songwriter and lead of The Miracles- "Don't Mess With Bill," a spirited anthem about cheating, brought the group major success, and peaked at #3 at R&B and #7 at Pop. William Smokey Robinson, Jr. ... The Miracles (known from 1965 to 1972 as Smokey Robinson & the Miracles) are an American R&B/soul group from Detroit, Michigan, notable as the first successful group act for Berry Gordys Motown Records. ...

They continued their partnership with Robinson on their fifth album, 'The Marvelettes,' released in 1967, and spawned the massively popular "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game", which just missed the top of the R&B charts, peaking at #2, and hit #13 at Pop. They followed with a remake of Ruby & the Romantics' "When You're Young and in Love," written by Van McCoy, peaking at #9 at R&B and #23 at Pop. The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game is a 1967 single by Motown Records girl group The Marvelettes, from their self-titled album of the same year. ... Ruby & The Romantics was an American doo-wop group, frequently considered a one-hit wonder, scoring topping the charts once with 1963s Our Day Will Come. ...

Danger: Dead End Ahead

In 1967, after a comeback of sorts, lead singer Gladys Horton left the group to get married, and was replaced by Anne Bogan. Their next album was named "Sophisticated Soul" after the new style they had come to be associated with under Wanda's lead and their reformed appearance after Motown gained expertise in grooming and presenting their artists. Singles released from the album included "You're the One" (#20 R&B / #48 Pop), "My Baby Must Be a Magician" (#8 R&B / #17 Pop, featuring an exceptional introduction by Melvin Franklin of The Temptations, "Destination: Anywhere" (#28 R&B / #63 Pop), (written by Ashford & Simpson) and "Here I Am Baby" (#14 R&B / #44 Pop). Unfortunately, Motown had long since shifted support to more popular groups, including Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, and The Four Tops, as well as new groups like The Jackson 5 and solo hitmakers like Marvin Gaye. By 1969's 'In Full Bloom' album, Motown had provided mediocre publicity and a smaller budget for the groups project. The album's only proper single, a remake of Baby Washington's "That's How Heartaches Are Made," peaked at #97 at Pop, and failed at R&B radio. The Temptations (often abbreviated as The Tempts or The Temps) are an American Motown singing group whose repertoire has included doo-wop, soul, psychedelia, funk, disco, R&B, and adult contemporary. ... Nickolas Ashford (born May 4, 1942, in Fairfield, South Carolina) and Valerie Simpson (born August 26, 1946 in The Bronx, New York) are a successful husband and wife songwriting/production team, as well as being recording artists in their own right. ... Reissue album cover showing The Supremes in 1966. ... The Temptations (often abbreviated as The Tempts or The Temps) are an American Motown singing group whose repertoire has included doo-wop, soul, psychedelia, funk, disco, R&B, and adult contemporary. ... Smokey Robinson (born February 19, 1940) is an American R&B and soul singer and songwriter. ... The Four Tops are an American Motown musical quartet, whose repertoire has included doo-wop, jazz, soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, and showtunes. ... The Jackson 5 (also spelled The Jackson Five or The Jackson 5ive, abbreviated as J5, and later known as The Jacksons) was an American popular music quintet from Gary, Indiana. ... Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. ...

When Motown moved its base of operation from Detroit to Los Angeles, the group decided not to make the move. They disbanded shortly thereafter in 1970, and Smokey decided to cut a a solo album on Wanda featuring The Andantes, (Motown's in-house backing group), consisting mainly of older Motown songs that had been overlooked. However, Motown thought it would have more commercial appeal if it was released under the title The Return of The Marvelettes. Unfortunately, it couldn't have come at a worse time: Wanda was awaiting the birth of her third child ( with Miracle Bobby Rogers ), Motown was in the process of moving to Los Angeles and Diana Ross was getting her initial push as a solo artist after leaving The Supremes. Although it failed to chart or receive any airplay, Motown issued three more singles from the album. None of them charted, and the last, "A Breathtaking Guy," was released in 1971. Meanwhile, Anne Bogan went on to lead an RCA trio known as Love, Peace & Happiness, which itself was part of the larger group New Birth. Though her two partners, Leslie and Melvin Wilson went on to greater fame as two of New Birth's main singers, she left right after they hit big with their hit "I Can Understand It." The Andantes were a prolific female session singing group for the Motown record label during the 1960s. ... Robert Bobby Rogers (born February 19, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan) is an African American soul singer, notable as a member of Motown group The Miracles from 1956 on. ... The New Birth is how John Wesley and Methodism have traditionally referred to the born again experience. ...

Gladys Horton, who sang most of the hits before 1966, tried to rally the surviving members and reform the group in 1986, but no one was interested. Horton continued anyway, with backing studio vocalists Echo Johnson and Jean McClain. In 1989 she recruited Pamelia Darden and Alicia Ingrim as her own "Original Marvelettes". In 1996 Pamelia created her own Marvelettes Revue and has since been touring world wide, though without Gladys, as Gladys has been preoccupied with the care of her handicapped son. 1986 (MCMLXXXVI) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

However, commercial success eluded the new group, and many lineup changes caused the group to break up a second time.

Despite early success, The Marvelettes never achieved the great heights of their contemporaries at Motown. Some, like Horton, blame the record company's forcing other girl groups take a back seat to their promotion of Diana Ross & The Supremes. Others feel the group was always looked at as country girls (they were from Inkster and not from Detroit) who did not fit into Motown's concept of an act that could appeal to both blacks and whites, despite the change in their image over the years. However, the group is notable for being one of the first hitmakers on the Motown label, and paving the way for the successful groups that followed. In their time they were one of the greats. Unfortunately, none of the original members is able to tour under the name "Marvelettes' in the United States due to the decision by Motown to sell their name to a promoter who has much younger girls on both coasts appear as "The Marvelettes'). However, due to the efforts of people like Mary Wilson of The Supremes, who launched a bill in 2006 to prevent artists from using the name of a group that does not have at least one original member, Gladys may finally be able to use the name again. She appeared with two background girls on the 2006 PBS "My Music Salute to Early Motown." For a really in-depth history of the ins and outs of the group, please read Marc Taylor's excellent book The Original Marvelettes. Another good source is the Goldmine article on the group from its June 8, 1984 issue. * An excellent video of the group in its heyday exists showing a Motortown Revue they recorded live At the Apollo Theatre in New York around 1963, along with Mary Wells, backed by The Temptations, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Contours and "Little" Stevie Wonder. Needless to say, The Marvelettes and The Contours stole the show! Mary Wells, on the cover of a Motown compilation album. ... The Temptations (often abbreviated as The Tempts or The Temps) are an American Motown singing group whose repertoire has included doo-wop, soul, psychedelia, funk, disco, R&B, and adult contemporary. ... Martha and the Vandellas were an American Motown group of the 1960s. ... Reissue album cover showing The Supremes in 1966. ... The Contours were one of the early soul singing groups signed to Motown Records. ... Stevie Wonder (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, named later changed to Stevland Hardaway Morris), [1] is an African American singer, songwriter, record producer, musician, and social activist. ...



  • Please Mr. Postman (1961)
  • The Marvelettes Sing (1962)
  • Playboy (1962)
  • The Marvelous Marvelettes (1963)
  • The Marvelettes Recorded Live On Stage(1963)
  • The Marvelettes Greatest Hits (1966)
  • The Marvelettes (1967)
  • Sophisticated Soul (1968)
  • In Full Bloom (1969)
  • Return of the Marvelettes(1970)
  • The Marvelettes Anthology(1975)
  • Best of The Marvelettes(1975)


From Please Mr. Postman:

From The Marvelettes Sing: Please Mr. ...

  • "Twistin' Postman" (1961) R&B: #13 Pop: #34

From Playboy:

  • "Playboy" (1962) R&B: #4 Pop: #7
  • "Beechwood 4-5789" (1962) R&B: #7 Pop #17
  • "Someday, Someway" (1962) R&B: #8

From The Marvelous Marvelettes:

  • "Strange, I Know" (1962) R&B: #10 Pop: #49
  • "Locking Up My Heart" (1963) R&B: #25 Pop #44
  • "Forever" (1963) R&B: #24 Pop: #78
  • "Tie a String Around My Finger" (1963) ^
  • "My Daddy Knows Best" (1963) Pop: #67 ^

From The Marvelettes Greatest Hits:

  • "As Long As I Know He's Mine" (1963) Pop: #47
  • "You're My Remedy" (1964) Pop: #48
  • "Too Many Fish in the Sea" (1964) R&B: #15 Pop: #25
  • "Danger! Heartbreak Dead Ahead" (1965) R&B: #11 Pop: #61
  • "Don't Mess With Bill" (1965) R&B: #3 Pop: #7

From The Marvelettes Anthology:

  • "He's a Good Guy (Yes He Is)" (1964) Pop: #55
  • "I'll Keep Holding On" (1965) R&B: #11 Pop: #34

From Sophisticated Soul:

  • "You're the One" (1966) R&B: #20 Pop: #48
  • "My Baby Must Be a Magician" (1968) R&B: #8 Pop: #17
  • "Here I Am Baby" (1968) R&B: #14 Pop: #44
  • "Destination: Anywhere" (1968) R&B: #28 Pop: #63
  • "I'm Gona Hold On As Long As I Can" (1969) Pop: #76

From The Marvelettes:

From In Full Bloom: The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game is a 1967 single by Motown Records girl group The Marvelettes, from their self-titled album of the same year. ...

  • "That's How Heartaches Are Made" (1969) Pop: #97
  • "Marionette" (1970)
  • "A Breathtaking Guy" (1971)

Not From an Album:

  • "Too Hurt to Cry, Too Much in Love to Say Goodbye" (1963) limited single as "The Darnells"
  • "Knock on My Door" (1964) independent release of unreleased track
  • "On the Other Side of Town" (1965) independent release of unreleased track
  • "Finders Keepers Losers Weepers" (1980) b-side of Kim Weston release

^ - "Tie a String Around My Finger" was A side backed with "My Daddy Knows Best." The B-side was the charting single, however.

Awards & Recognition

The Marvelettes were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004. The Vocal Group Hall of Fame was organized to honor what they term the Greatest Vocal Groups in the World. The Hall of Fame is headquartered in Sharon, Pennsylvania, United States. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Girl Group Chronicles: Marvelettes (2302 words)
The Marvelettes' previous singles had seen them backed with a live band, but the excitement was not lost on this release.
The Marvelettes had been relegated to the second string of artists for some time, and they were given songs that had been turned down by other artists.
It was produced by James Dean and William Weatherspoon for the album The Marvelettes.
Marvelettes - Classic Motown (263 words)
The Marvelettes' career epitomized the haphazard progress endured by many of the leading girl-groups of the early 60s.
This effervescent slice of pop-RandB captivated teenage audiences in the USA, and the song was introduced to an even wider public when the Beatles recorded a faithful cover version on their second album.
After an attempt to repeat the winning formula with "Twistin' Postman", the Marvelettes made the Top 20 again in 1962 with "Playboy" and the chirpy "Beechwood 4-5789".
  More results at FactBites »



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