MOTOWN EXPLORE

 
Motown Song Writers

Motown Song Writers

Today marks acclaimed Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier’s 75th birthday. In celebration of his career, we’re taking a look at the people behind the songs including famous trio Holland-Dozier-Holland, Smokey Robinson and Norman Jesse Whitfield.

Holland – Dozier –Holland

One of the big powerhouses behind many of the Motown classic hits was the trio made up of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Edward Holland Jr. The song writing trio were at Motown from 1962 to 1967 and had 35 top 20 hits between 1963 and 1968, and with “Back In My Arms Again,” they gave the Supremes their unprecedented fifth consecutive #1 single.

In 1998 they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Key Songs:

  • Where Did Our Love Go – The Supremes
  • Love Is Like A (Heat Wave) – Martha and the Vandellas
  • How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) –Marvin Gaye
  • Reach Out, I’ll Be There – the Four Tops
  • I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – the Four Tops
  • Baby Love – The Supremes
  • Back in My Arms Again – The Supremes
  • Stop! In the Name of Love – The Supremes

 

 

Smokey Robinson

Between 1962 and 1970, William “Smokey” Robinson was a key songwriter at Motown. He delivered, at times with Berry Gordy and others as co-writers, 47 top 40 hits for Motown for his own group, The Miracles, as well as huge hits for many other Motown artists.

Smokey was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1989.

Key Songs:

  • Shop Around – The Miracles
  • The Tracks of My Tears – The Miracles
  • Get Ready – The Temptations
  • Ain’t that Peculiar- Marvin Gaye
  • My Guy – Mary Wells
  • My Girl – The Temptations
  • Don’t Mess With Bill – The Marvelettes

Norman Jesse Whitfield

Whitfield joined Motown in the 1960’s and co-wrote and produced many hits for Motown, helping to transform the sound in the late 60s and 70s from romantic songs to those that reflected the growing social and political consciousness of the country.

Whitfield worked extensively with The Temptations as a producer and songwriter and produced eight of their albums between 1969 and 1973.

He has written or co-written 35 hits that made the Top 40 in the UK and U.S. charts.

Norman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of fame in 2004.

Key Songs:

  • Pride & Joy – Marvin Gaye
  • Ain’t Too Proud To Beg– The Temptations
  • I Heard It Through The Grapevine– Gladys Knight & Marvin Gaye
  • War – Edwin Starr
  • Cloud Nine The Temptations
  • Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone– The Temptations

Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson

Ashford and Simpson were a husband and wife song writing and production duo who started writing and recording together in 1964. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of fame in 2002. They were brought into Motown in 1966.

Key Songs:

  • Ain’t no Mountain High enough– Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Diana Ross
  • You’re all I need to get by- Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
  • Reach out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)- Diana Ross

William Mickey Stevenson

Stevenson began his career in gospel and doo wop before joining the Tamla/Motown staff as A & R Director in 1959; in addition to co-producing and arranging records for various Motown artists.

Stevenson’s last major hit for Motown was 1966’s classic “It Takes Two,” a duet between Marvin Gaye and the producer’s wife, Kim Weston.

Key Songs:

  • Stubborn Kind of Fellow – Marvin Gaye
  • Dancing in the Street – Martha and the Vandellas
  • Beechwood 4-5789 – The Marvelettes
  • What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted?- Jimmy Ruffin

The Corporation

The production/writing team was put together in 1969 by Berry Gordy to come up with hit records for Motown’s newest artist signing, the Jackson 5, and the group included Berry Gordy, Deke Richards (born Dennis Lussier), Alphonzo Mizell and Freddie Perren. They were the writers, producers and arrangers on the Jackson 5’s first three number 1 hits, and other songs

Key Songs:

  • I Want You Back-The Jackson 5
  • ABC-The Jackson 5
  • The Love You Save-The Jackson 5
  • Give Love on Christmas Day – The Jackson 5
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