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The Marvelettes - Juanita Cowart-Motley, Georgia Dobbins and Katherine Anderson Schaffner "PLEASE MR. POSTMAN"MEMORIAL FOR MOTOWN LEAD SINGER,GLADYS HORTONBy Larry BufordShe sang one of the most famous lines in pop music history: “Deliver de letter, the sooner de better!” She was Gladys Horton – former lead singer, and co-founder of Motown’s famous all-female group, The Marvelettes – who passed away on January 26th. A memorial service for her took place on Tuesday, February 22nd, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park located in Hollywood Hills, California.During this high-spirited celebration of Horton’s life, long-time friend and cohort Betty Kelley, who sang with Martha and the Vandellas said, “[from now on] every time we hear ‘Mr. Postman’, we’ll know that Gladys finally received her letter!” The roughness in her voice on that recording really projected the urgency of a lover pleading for a message from her boyfriend.Horton also sang lead on subsequent Marvelettes recordings like “Playboy”, “Twistin’ Postman”, “Beechwood 4-5789”, and “Too Many Fish in The Sea”, among others. Legend has it that co-writer of “Postman,” Robert Bateman, who also served as one of Motown’s early engineers, came up with the idea to put an echo on the “deliver de letter” line during the vamp. While other engineers contested his method in accomplishing what he wanted with the limited technology they had at the time, he used some old fashioned Yankee ingenuity and got the desired result. At one time, the Los Angeles Times did an article about one of the co-writers, Freddie Gorman, a member of the Motown group called “The Originals”, who had actually become a postman later in his life. Also, “Postman” history reveals that it was Marvin Gaye on drums! The service was attended by many friends and family members. Horton’s son, Vaughn Thornton, said he did not realize how famous his mom was because they did not grow up in the Motown lifestyle after his mom’s departure from The Marvelettes in the 1960’s. He said: “Mom still gave us a rich upbringing.” He learned even more when Horton moved the family from Inkster, Michigan to California, and they lived with legendary singer Mary Wells for a while. Horton’s Motown family in attendance at the service included: Janie Bradford (who co-wrote “Money [That’s What I Want]”), Claudette Robinson (The Miracles), Scherrie Payne (The Supremes), Susaye Greene (The Supremes), Cornelius Grant (The Temptations’ bandleader), Richard Street (The Temptations), Marvin Marshall (former bandleader for The Temptations and The Supremes), and Clara Jackson Ruffin (former wife of singer Jimmy Ruffin). Acknowledgements from Motown’s The Velvelettes and Congresswoman Maxine Waters were offered as well. Jon Bauman, former member of the group Sha Na Na, made some heartfelt comments, and brought some (in-the-works) good news to the surviving members of The Marvelettes about troubling imitators.Original Marvelettes member Katherine Anderson-Schaffner opined that the early Motown experiences were very challenging, and let the audience know that after “Postman” became Motown’s first number one Pop hit, “’Postman’ sales helped Motown grow!” Two other original members seated front row, Juanita Cowart-Motley, and Georgia Dobbins chimed in agreement. Dobbins, by the way, was co-creator of “Postman” but had to drop out of the group before the song got to the recording phase.In his Message of Comfort titled “This Marvelous Life”, Minister Wayne C. Hopkins said, “Gladys not only cared, but cared to take the extra step…taking care of her family.”
Last edited by brother_love; 02-23-2011 at 02:44 PM.
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Bill G wrote:Charles said:"Suggest you write a letter to the Foundation, if you have any connection to the living Marvelettes then let them know, post your protests over on the ballot thread and FRL, and keep the Marvelettes thread going like you did the Miracles thread."Bill's Reply:Unless and until The Marvelettes are actually INDUCTEES, there's no point in contacting the RRHOF...I think they're gonna get snubbed again this year anyway.''
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They thought they were a shoe-in to win, or at least finish in the top three,
which would guarantee them an audition at Motown Records. But it wasn’t to be.
“After they began to vote, everybody was saying, ‘Oh. We didn’t win,’” laughs
Katherine Anderson, who was 16 at the time, as were her fellow Marvels
Georgeanna Tillman and Juanita Cowart. “And so that really was a shock to
our system, because we were definitely good.”
Anderson wasn’t the only one who thought they were robbed. A teacher felt
The Marvels had what it took to make it as a singing group. “She offered to
take us down to Motown, because they were supposed to interview the top
three people,” says Anderson. “Well, we were fourth. And so we weren’t
likely to go, but the teacher said she’d talk to the scout that was out there,
which was John O’Den. She would make arrangements for us to go there.”
True to her word, she brought the girls to Motown, and they won over Motown
founder Berry Gordy, and other label big-wigs Brian Holland, Richard Bateman
and Smokey Robinson. But there was a problem: Because they were underage,
they needed permission from their parents to go with Motown. “The other girls’
parents had already signed, but my mother was very skeptical about signing
[with Motown] and my dad told her, ‘This may be her lifetime opportunity, and
I don’t want to be responsible for standing in her way …”
Actually, not all of the girls’ parents ended up signing on. Georgia Dobbins,
an original member, could not get her dad to sign on. But Dobbins, who was
eventually replaced by Wanda Young, the future Wanda Rogers, would play
a huge role in establishing The Marvelettes as one of Motown’s most promising
acts. One of Gordy’s stipulations after the group auditioned was that they
come back with an original song. Georgia did so, with pianist William Garrett in tow.
“Georgia was musically talented,” remembers Anderson. “She played in the
school band and she sang in the chorus, so she was very, very talented.
And the original song that she got was from [Garrett], who was a blues man,
and everything he did was always with a blues connotation. So she then wrote
the lyrics and changed them not to be so bluesy, and then took them to
Motown. And they were quite thrilled with that.”
That song, featuring Gladys Horton on lead vocals, was “Please Mr.
Postman,” which wound up being Motown’s first #1 on the Billboard Pop Chart
It took 14 weeks to get to the top, and the song also went to #1 on the
Billboard R&B chart. Though it took a while to get a head of steam, the
song made The Marvelettes stars, and it helped pave the way for other
Motown girl groups like The Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas.
After releasing “Please Mr. Postman,” and really for the rest of their career,
The Marvelettes would tour constantly. Their lively dance moves and
showmanship made them a crowd favorite on the Motortown Revue.
One song Anderson particularly enjoyed doing was “Danger! Heartbreak
Dead Ahead,” the Ivy Hunter/Clarence Paul/Mickey Stevenson composition.
“What we did was, we had some cards that were maybe the size of the big
poster boards,” says Anderson. “They were painted black, but ‘danger’
on one side in an iridescent-like orange color, and on the opposite side,
‘heartbreak’ was in that same iridiscent color. And we used a black light
that was in front of us, and we would have to flip the cards, you know, ‘danger’
and ‘heartbreak’ … were in all black lights and the only things that you could really see.”
With the song “Locking Up My Heart,” The Marvelettes merged timely fashion
sense with fun stagecraft. “We had some white dresses, and back then, you
know, minis [were] coming back,” says Anderson. “We had white mini dresses
that we bought from a shop downtown called Paraphernalia, but on this white
dress they had a heart in red. But you could turn the heart on. There again it
was a black-light situation. We turned the heart on, and the heart began to
pulsate, because it was battery operated … and the audience would automatically
see this pulsating heart.”
Over their career, which lasted into the early ’70s, The Marvelettes would have
19 Top 40 American R&B singles and 10 Top 40 American pop singles — three
of which reached the Top 10. And they might have had more had Motown promoted
In the end, they overcame losing Dobbins and then Cowart in 1962, whose depression
caused her to leave the group. In 1967, Horton got married and departed, and
two years before that, Tillman contracted lupus. She would be forced to quit.
In the end, they overcame losing Dobbins and then Cowart in 1962, whose
depression caused her to leave the group. In 1967, Horton got married and
departed, and two years before that, Tillman contracted lupus. She would
be forced to quit.
Contemplating the group’s legacy, Anderson says, “I think we leave behind
a repertoire of special music, and music helps to bring everybody closer
and stuff, because we had a lot of very important music and some of the
music was with the times, and some of [it was] not with the times, but it
was important enough that people really cared for the music. And I think
that the Marvelettes have always had a reputation for being innovative.”
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Sep 26 15 10:14 AM
Let's get them inducted in 2016 !!!
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