March 16, 2013 – Bobby Smith was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 10, 1936. He became the principal lead singer of the classic Motown group, The Spinners at the group’s inception in 1954.
The group, first called The Domingoes, was formed at Ferndale High School, where Bobby took over from James Edwards who lasted only 2 weeks. The Spinners also known as the Detroit Spinners or the Motown Spinners, had their first hit, with Bobby singing lead, “That’s What Girls Are Made For” in 1961, (which has been inaccurately credited to the group’s mentor and former Moonglows lead singer, the late Harvey Fuqua).
Over the years, the group earned half a dozen Grammy award nominations and around a dozen gold records including “Truly Yours”, “I’ll Always Love You”,in 1965. “I’ll Be Around”, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”, “They Just Can’t Stop It the (Games People Play)”. In 1974 they scored their only No.1 hit with “Then Came You”, (sung by Smith, in a collaboration with superstar Dionne Warwick).
Smith sang lead on most of the group’s Motown material during the 1960s, and almost all of the group’s pre-Motown material on Fuqua’s Tri-Phi Records label, and also on The Spinners’ biggest Atlantic Records hits. These included “I’ll Be Around”, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”, “They Just Can’t Stop It the (Games People Play)”. In 1974, they scored their only #1 Pop hit with “Then Came You”
Despite the fact that Bobby Smith led on many of the group’s biggest hits, many have erroneously credited most of the group’s success to only one of its three lead singers, the late Philippé Wynne. (Henry Fambrough also sang lead on many of the Spinners’ songs.) The confusion between Smith and Wynne may be due to the similarities in their voices, and the fact that they frequently shared lead vocals on many of those hits.
In fact Wynne was many times inaccurately credited for songs that Smith actually sang lead on, such as by the group’s label, Atlantic Records, on their Anthology double album collection (an error corrected in the group’s later triple CD set, The Chrome Collection). Throughout a succession of lead singers (Wynne, John Edwards, G. C. Cameron etc.), Smith’s lead voice had always been The Spinners’ mainstay.
With the March 16, 2013 death of Bobby Smith at age 76, from pneumonia and influenza, as well as fellow Spinners members C. P. Spencer in 2004, Billy Henderson in 2007, and bass singer Pervis Jackson in 2008, Henry Fambrough is now the last remaining original member of the group. Fambrough may still be performing with a current day line-up of the Spinners.
March 3, 2013 – Bobby Rogers (The Miracles) was born on February 19, 1940, on the same day and in the same hospital as his future singing partner Smokey Robinson. While not in the original version of the Miracles that formed in 1955 (then known as the Five Chimes), he joined a year later when another member dropped out.
The group auditioned for Brunswick Records, including label songwriter Barry Gordy, but were rejected. Gordy however soon followed up with them and, in 1958, recorded their first single, Got a Job. The record, released on End, didn’t chart but, at Robinson’s urging, Gordy decided to start his own label, Tamla Records. The Miracles first few singles for Tamla were licensed out to other labels and failed to score. It was in 1960 when the group released Shop Around/Who’s Lovin’ You, that their career took off. The song topped the R&B singles chart for eight weeks and made it to number 2 on the Hot 100.
Two years later, they scored again with You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me (1962/#1 R&B/#8 Pop) that started a long string of hits that would span into the early-70’s, including Mickey’s Monkey, Ooo Baby Baby, The Tracks of My Tears, Going to a Go-Go, I Second That Emotion, Baby Baby Don’t Cry and their only number 1 pop hit, Tears of a Clown.
At the same time, each of the members of the Miracles were also writing songs that were recorded by other members of the Motown roster, including The Way You Do the Things You Do which Rogers and Robinson wrote and was a the first hit for the Temptations.
In 1972, Smokey Robinson left the group and was replaced by Billy Griffin as the lead singer. For many groups, the loss of their most visible member would mean the end, but not the Miracles, who struck out with their new line-up and recasting their sound to the 70’s. In 1974, they hit the R&B top ten with Do It Baby (#4 R&B/#13 Pop) and, a year later, topped the pop charts with Love Machine (Part 1) (1975/#1 Pop/ #5 R&B).
When the group disbanded in the late 1970s, Rogers started an interior design business. But even after their hitmaking days, the Miracles continued to tour and occasionally record with Rogers and Ronnie White as the consistent members. The original lineup reconvened for the Motown 25 television special and, in 1993, a 35th anniversary compilation album once again reignited interest in the group.
In late 2006, Bobby re-united with original Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Pete Moore for the group’s first-ever extended interview on the Motown DVD release, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: The Definitive Performances.
Rogers continued to perform throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe with members Dave Finley, Tee Turner, and Mark Scott in the current incarnation of The Miracles, which made him, as of 2009, the longest-serving original Miracles member. On March 20, 2009, Bobby was in Hollywood to be honored along with the other surviving original members of the Miracles (Smokey Robinson, Claudette Robinson and Pete Moore) as they received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Also on hand were Gloria White, the wife of original Miracles member Ronnie White who is deceased (White is responsible for discovering Motown artist Stevie Wonder), and Bill Griffin was in attendance. He replaced Smokey Robinson when he left the group in the early 1970s.
Rogers’ cousin, Claudette Rogers, was also a member of the Miracles, and later married Smokey Robinson. Bobby Rogers stayed with the group, through every lineup, from 1956 through 2011 when he was forced to leave because of poor health and the Miracles disbanded for good.
Bobby Rogers died on March 3, 2013, at the age of 73, due to complications of diabetes. Nine days later, on March 12, 2013 on their website, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame paid tribute to Bobby with the article, “Remembering Bobby Rogers of The Miracles”.
His final honor had come with the Rock Hall induction in 2012 with fellow member Claudette Rogers-Robinson
Over his 56 years with the Miracles, Bobby has been on all their hit singles including their 1960 single “Shop Around”, which was Motown’s first number one hit on the R&B singles chart, and was also Motown’s first million selling hit single. Other hit singles include “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”, “My Girl Has Gone”, “I Second That Emotion”, “Mickey’s Monkey”, “Going to a Go-Go”, “Ooo Baby Baby”, “Tracks of My Tears”, “Baby Baby Don’t Cry”, and “Tears of a Clown”. Referred to as Motown’s “soul supergroup”, the Miracles recorded 26 Top 40 hits and 6 top 20 singles.
March 24, 2009 – Uriel Jones (the Funk Brothers) was born on June 13th 1934 in Detroit. He began playing music in high school. But his first instrument was the trombone and wanted to box also. But when he went to band classes his lip was swollen and he couldn’t play the trombone, so he had to switch to the drums.
Drawn from the ranks of Detroit jazz players by Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown, the Funk Brothers were the label’s regular studio backup band from 1959 to 1972, when Motown moved to Los Angeles and left most of them behind. Jones joined the Funk Brothers around 1963 after touring with Marvin Gaye and he moved up the line as recordings increased and principal drummer Benny Benjamin’s drug addicted health deteriorated fast. Around 1963 Jones and another player, Richard Allen, known as Pistol, started gradually taken over drumming his duties and Benjamin died of a stroke in 1969.
October 19, 2008 – Levi Stubbs was born Levi Stubbles on June 6th 1936. He became lead vocalist with The Four Tops and began his professional singing career with friends Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton to form the Four Aims in 1954. Two years later, the group changed their name to the Four Tops.
The Four Tops were among a number of groups, including The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, and The Supremes, who established the Motown Sound around the world during the 1960s. They were notable for having Stubbs, a baritone, as their lead singer, whereas most male/mixed vocal groups of the time were fronted by a tenor.
July 23, 2007 –Ron Miller was born Ronald NormanGould on October 5, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois. He served in the U.S. Marines and then sold washing machines, before he was discovered by Motown founder Berry Gordy while playing in a bar. Gordy invited him to write songs for his new company, Motown, and Miller responded by writing the lyrics to “For Once in My Life”, to music by Orlando Murden. The lyrics were written the night his daughter Angel was born, and was first recorded at Motown by Barbara McNair before being covered in a more upbeat style by Stevie Wonder.
July 5, 2006 – Joe Weaver was born on August 27th 1934 in Detroit, Michigan.
His best known recording was “Baby I Love You So” – 1955, and he was a founding member of both The Blue Note Orchestra and The Motor City Rhythm & Blues Pioneers. Over his lengthy but staggered career, Joe worked with various musicians including The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, John Lee Hooker, Nathaniel Mayer, The Miracles, Martha Reeves, Nolan Strong & The Diablos, Andre Williams, Nancy Wilson, and Stevie Wonder. In addition, he was a session musician in the early days of Motown Records and played in the house band at Fortune Records. He was a key component in the 1950s Detroit R&B scene.
Weaver learned to play the piano from age nine. While at Northwestern High School he teamed up with fellow student Johnnie Bassett to form Joe Weaver and the Blue Notes.
June 13, 2006 – Freddie Gorman, born Frederick Cortez Gorman, April 11, 1939 in Detroit, was a musician, singer, songwriter and record producer for Motown.
Gorman developed his bass harmonizing on local street corners, and was still in high school when he made his recorded debut on the Qualitones’ 1955 Josie Records single “Tears of Love”. Two years later Gorman and longtime best friends Brian Holland and Sonny Sanders formed the Fideletones. After issuing “Pretty Girl” on Aladdin Records in 1959, the group splintered and Gorman resumed his day job as a mail carrier. He was a vital unsung component of the Motown label’s formative development as he co-wrote the label’s first #1 pop hit “Please Mr. Postman”, by the Marvelettes. In 1964 the biggest selling group of all time, the Beatles released their version, and in 1975 the Carpenters took it back to #1 again. This was the second time in pop history (after “The Twist” by Chubby Checker) that a song reached #1 in the US twice. In 2006, “Please Mr. Postman” was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
February 4, 2000 – Doris Coley (The Shirelles) was born August 2nd 1941 in Goldsboro, North Carolina, but spend her formative and teenage years in Passaic New Jersey, where Doris became a founding member and occasional lead singer of the Shirelles in 1958. The four teenagers, Beverly Lee of Passaic and Shirley Alston Reeves (born Shirley Owens) of Hillside and Addie “Mickie” Harris did not graduate with their class of 1958, but they earned diplomas later.
Instead they went on to release a string of hits including “Baby It’s You” , “Mama Said”, “Foolish Little Girl”, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, “Soldier Boy” and “Sha La La”. Doris sang lead on “Dedicated to the One I Love”, “Welcome Home Baby”, “Blue Holiday” and a number of ‘b’ sides and album cuts.
March 2, 1999 – Dusty Springfield was bornMary O’Brien on April 16th 1939 in West Hampstead, North London, England. She was given the nickname “Dusty” for playing football with boys in the street, and was described as a tomboy. Springfield was raised in a music-loving family. Her father would tap out rhythms on the back of her hand and encourage her to guess the musical piece. She listened to a wide range of music, including George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Glenn Miller. A fan of American jazz and the vocalists Peggy Lee and Jo Stafford, she wished to sound like them. At the age of twelve, she made a recording of herself performing the Irving Berlin song “When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam” at a local record shop in Ealing. Continue reading Dusty Springfield 3/1999
July 26, 1992 – MaryWells was born in Detroit on May 13, 1943. When she was three years old, she contracted spinal meningitis and had to remain in bed for two years. Wells also suffered from tuberculosis as a young woman. Her family was poor, and at the age of 12 she began to help her mother with housecleaning work. “Daywork they called it,” Wells was quoted as saying in Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music. “And it was damn cold on hallway linoleum. Misery is Detroit linoleum in January–with a half-froze bucket of Spic-and-Span.”
June 1, 1991 – Davis Eli ‘David’ Ruffin (The Temptations) was born January 18, 1941 in the rural unincorporated community of Whynot, Mississippi, 15 miles from Meridian, Mississippi. He was the third born son of Elias “Eli” Ruffin, a Baptist minister, and Ophelia Ruffin (born Davis). Ruffin’s father was strict and at times violently abusive. Ruffin’s mother died ten months after his birth in 1941; and his father married Earline, a schoolteacher, in 1942. As a young child, Ruffin, along with his other siblings (older brothers Quincy and Jimmy, and sister Rita Mae), traveled with their father and their stepmother as a family gospel group, opening shows for Mahalia Jackson and The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, among others. Ruffin sang in the choir at Mount Salem Methodist Church, talent shows and wherever else he could. In 1955, at the age of 14, he left home under the guardianship of a minister and went to Memphis, Tennessee, with the purpose of pursuing the ministry.
But at the age of 15, he went to Hot Springs, Arkansas with the jazz musician Phineas Newborn, Sr. They played at the Fifty Grand Ballroom and Casino. He continued to sing at talent shows, worked with horses at a jockey club, and eventually became a member of the The Dixie Nightingales.
He also sang with the Soul Stirrers briefly after the departure of Johnnie Taylor. He met and came under the guardianship of Eddie Bush and Dorothy Helen who took David to Detroit, Michigan and introduced him to Gwen Gordy Fuqua, Berry Gordy’s sister, and Billy Davis.
In 1957, Ruffin met Berry Gordy, Jr., then a songwriter with ambitions of running his own label. Ruffin lived with Gordy’s father, a contractor, and helped “Pops” Gordy do construction work on the building that would become Hitsville USA, the headquarters for Gordy’s Tamla Records (later Motown Records) label. Ruffin’s brother Jimmy would eventually be signed to Tamla’s Miracle Records label as an artist.
Ruffin also worked alongside another ambitious singer, Marvin Gaye, as an apprentice at Anna Records, a Chess-distributed label run by Gordy’s sister Gwen Gordy Fuqua and his songwriting partner Billy Davis. Asked about Ruffin in the Detroit Free Press in 1988, Gordy Fuqua said: “He was very much a gentleman, yes ma’am and no ma’am, but the thing that really impressed me about David was that he was one of the only artists I’ve seen who rehearsed like he was on stage”. According to Ruffin, both he and Gaye would pack records for Anna Records.
Ruffin created music as both the vocalist and drummer in the Voice Masters, a doo-wop style combo and eventually started recording at Anna Records, and recorded the song “I’m in Love” b/w “One of These Days” (1961), with the Voice Masters, a group which included future Motown producer, Lamont Dozier. Other group members included members of The Originals: Ty Hunter, CP Spencer, Hank Dixon and (Voice Masters and The Originals founder) Walter Gaines. (At one time, The Voice Masters also included another future Temptations member, Melvin Franklin, one of numerous people David would claim as a cousin). Ruffin did sign to Anna Records as a solo artist, but his work in that time was unsuccessful.
Ruffin eventually met an up-and-coming local group by the name of The Temptations. His older brother Jimmy went on a Motortown Revue tour with the Temptations, and he told David that they needed someone to sing tenor in their group. David showed interest in joining the group to Otis Williams whom he lived very close to in Detroit. In January 1964, 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. These were displayed when he joined the Temptations on stage during the label’s New Year’s Eve party in 1963.
At Motown he started as a background singer, joining The Tempations in 1963, while also working at the Ford Motor Company.
In Nov ’64, songwriter/producer Smokey Robinson wrote a single especially for him to sing lead on. That song, “My Girl”, became the group’s first #1 single and its signature song, and elevated David to the role of lead singer and front man during the group’s “Classic Five” period as it became later known.
In the late 1967/68’s tensions grew on account of his cocaine addiction, tardiness and he was sacked from the the group, but was legally forced to continue with Motown as a solo artist. His first solo single “My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)” reached the US pop & R&B Top Ten.
His final Top Ten hit was 1975’s “Walk Away From Love”.
After being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 with the other Temptations, Ruffin, Kendrick, and Dennis Edwards began touring and recording as “Ruffin /Kendrick/ Edwards: Former Leads of The Temptations”. Sadly the project was cut short, when David Ruffin died on June 1, 1991 from a drug overdose at age 50.
After a successful month-long tour of England with Kendricks and Edwards, David Ruffin died on June 1, 1991, in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hospital of “an adverse reaction to drugs” – namely cocaine. Although the cause of death was ruled an accident, Ruffin’s family and friends suspected foul play, claiming that a money belt containing the proceeds from the tour ($300,000) was missing from his body.
Known for his unique raspy and anguished tenor vocals, David was ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine in November 2008.
April 1, 1984 – Marvin Pentz Gay was born April 2, 1939 in Washington, D.C., he later added the “e” due to childhood teasing and to appear more professional (akin to his childhood idol Sam Cooke’s addition of an “e”). His father , Reverend Marvin Gay, Sr., was an ordained minister in the House of God, a small, conservative sect spun off from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The church, borrowing some elements of Pentecostalism and Orthodox Judaism, has very strict codes of conduct and does not celebrate any holidays. Gaye got his start singing in the church choir and later learned to play the piano and drums to escape from his physically abusive father. Continue reading Marvin Gaye 4/1984
January 21, 1984 – Jack Leroy “Jackie” Wilson, Jr. was born on June 9th 1934 in Detroit. Jackie often visited his maternal family in Columbus, Mississippi and was greatly influenced by the choir at Billups Chapel. Growing up in the rough Detroit area of Highland Park, Wilson joined a gang called the Shakers and often found himself in trouble. Wilson’s father was frequently absent, as he was alcoholic and usually out of work. Wilson began singing at an early age, accompanying his mother, once a choir singer, to church. In his early teens Jackie joined a quartet, the Ever Ready Gospel Singers, which became a popular feature of churches in the area. Jackie was not very religious, but enjoyed singing and used the money he and his group earned performing to buy cheap wine which he began drinking at the age of nine. Jack Sr. and Eliza separated shortly after Jackie turned nine.
Wilson dropped out of high school at the age of 15, having already been sentenced to detention in the Lansing Corrections system for juveniles twice. During his second stint in detention, he learned boxing and started performing in the amateur circuit in the Detroit area at the age of 16. His record in the Golden Gloves was 2 and 8. After his mother forced him to quit boxing, Wilson got married to Freda Hood and became a father at 17. It is estimated that he fathered at least 10 other children prior to getting married and was forced to marry Hood by her father. He gave up boxing for music, first working at Lee’s Sensation club as a solo singer, then forming a group called the Falcons (not to be confused with The Falcons Wilson Pickett was part of), that included cousin Levi Stubbs, who later went on to lead the Four Tops (two more of Wilson’s cousins, Hubert Johnson and Levi’s brother Joe, later became members of The Contours). The other members joined Hank Ballard as part of The Midnighters. including Alonzo Tucker & Billy Davis, who would work with Wilson several years later as a solo artist. Tucker and Wilson collaborated as songwriters on a few songs Wilson recorded.
Jackie Wilson was soon discovered by talent agent Johnny Otis, who assigned him to join a group called the Thrillers. That group would later be known as The Royals (who would later evolve into R&B group, The Midnighters, but Wilson wasn’t part of the group when it changed its name and signed with King Records). LaVern Baker, Little Willie John, Johnnie Ray and Della Reese were acts managed by Al Green (not to be confused with R&B singer Al Green, nor Albert “Al” Green of the now defunct National Records). Al Green owned two music publishing companies, Pearl Music and Merrimac Music, and Detroit’s Flame Show Bar where Wilson met Baker.
After recording his first version of “Danny Boy” and a few other tracks on Dizzy Gillespie’s record label Dee Gee Records under the name Sonny Wilson (his nickname), Wilson was eventually hired by Billy Ward in 1953 to join a group Ward formed in 1950 called The Dominoes, after Wilson’s successful audition to replace the immensely popular Clyde McPhatter, who left the Dominoes and formed his own group, The Drifters. Wilson almost blew his chance that day, showing up calling himself “Shit” Wilson and bragging about being a better singer than McPhatter.
Billy Ward felt a stage name would fit The Dominoes’ image, hence Jackie Wilson. Prior to leaving The Dominoes, McPhatter coached Wilson on the sound Billy Ward wanted for his group, influencing Wilson’s singing style and stage presence. “I learned a lot from Clyde, that high-pitched choke he used and other things…Clyde McPhatter was my man. Clyde and Billy Ward.” Forties blues singer Roy Brown was also a major influence on him, and Wilson grew up listening to The Mills Brothers, The Ink Spots, Louis Jordan and Al Jolson.
Wilson was the group’s lead singer for three years, but the Dominoes lost some of their stride with the departure of McPhatter. They were able to make appearances riding on the strength of the group’s earlier hits, until 1956 when the Dominoes recorded Wilson with an unlikely interpretation of the pop hit “St. Therese of the Roses”, giving The Dominoes another brief moment in the spotlight. Their only other post-McPhatter/Wilson successes were “Stardust”, released July 15, 1957, and “Deep Purple”, released October 7, 1957. In 1957 Wilson set out to begin a solo career, leaving the Dominoes and collaborating with cousin Levi and got work at Detroit’s Flame Show Bar. Later, Al Green worked out a deal with Decca Records, and Wilson was signed to their subsidiary label, Brunswick.
His solo career began with 1957’s “Reet Petite,” written by the then-unknown Berry Gordy, Jr. and recorded on the Brunswick Records label. His dynamic stage performances earned him the nickname “Mr. Excitement” and his performance of “Lonely Teardrops” on the Ed Sullivan Show is considered one of the show’s classics.
Due to his fervor when performing, with his dynamic dance moves, singing and impeccable dress, he was soon christened “Mr. Excitement”, a title he would keep for the remainder of his career. His stagecraft in his live shows inspired James Brown, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, as well as a host of other artists that followed. Presley was so impressed by Wilson that Elvis made it a point to meet him, and the two instantly became good friends. In a photo of the two posing together, Presley’s caption in the autograph reads “You got you a friend for life.” Wilson was sometimes called “The Black Elvis”. Reportedly, when asked about this Presley said, “I guess that makes me the white Jackie Wilson.” Wilson also said he was influenced by Presley too, saying “A lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the black man’s music, when in fact, almost every black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis.”
Wilson’s powerful, electrifying live performances rarely failed to bring audiences to a state of frenzy. His live performances consisted of knee-drops, splits, spins, back-flips, one-footed across-the-floor slides, removing his tie and jacket and throwing them off the stage, a lot of basic boxing steps (advance and retreat shuffling) and one of his favorite routines, getting some of the less attractive girls in the audience to come up and kiss him. “If I kiss the ugliest girl in the audience,” Wilson often said, “they’ll all think they can have me and keep coming back and buying my records.” Having women come up to kiss him is one reason Wilson kept bottles of mouthwash in his dressing room. Another reason was probably his attempt to hide the alcohol on his breath.
He recorded over fifty hit singles in a repertoire that included R&B, pop, soul, doo-wop and easy listening before lapsing into a coma following a collapse on stage during a 1975 benefit concert. By the time of his death in 1984, he had become one of the most influential soul artists of his generation.
He had been in care ever since suffering the heart attack in 1975. His medical costs were paid for by Elvis Presley and soul singer Al Green was one of the very few artists who regularly visited a bed-ridden Jackie Wilson.
He was 49 years old when he died on 21 January 1984 at age 49.
A two-time Grammy Hall of Fame Inductee, Jackie was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Jackie Wilson No.68 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
June 11, 1982 – Addie “Micki” Harris was bornAddie Harris McPherson on January 22, 1940 in Passaic, New Jersey. As a founding member of The Shirelles, which originally formed in 1958 in Passaic, New Jersey by Shirley Owens, Alston Reeves, Doris Coley, Kenner Jackson and Beverly Lee, they became a sensation in early doo-wop.
The Shirelles were originally formed in 1957 in Passaic, NJ, by four either 16 or 17 years old high school friends: Doris Cole
y (later Doris Kenner-Jackson), Addie “Micki” Harris, Shirley Owens (later Shirley Alston), and Beverly Lee.
Feb 22, 1976 – Florence Ballard Chapman (The Supremes) was born Florence Glenda Ballard on June 30th 1943.
Named “Blondie” or “Flo” by family and friends, Ballard attended Northeastern High School and was coached vocally by Abraham Silver. Ballard met future singing partner Mary Wilson during a middle-school talent show and they became friends while attending Northeastern High. From an early age, Ballard aspired to be a singer and agreed to audition for a spot on a sister group of the local Detroit attraction, The Primes. After she was accepted, Ballard recruited Mary Wilson to join Jenkins’ group. Wilson, in turn, enlisted another neighbor, Diana Ross, then going by “Diane”. Betty McGlown completed the original lineup and Jenkins named them as “The Primettes”. The group performed at talent showcases and at school parties before auditioning for Motown Records in 1960. Gordy advised the group to graduate from high school before auditioning again. Ballard eventually dropped out of high school though her group mates graduated.
June 13, 1972 – Clyde McPhatter (the Drifters) was born on November 15, 1932 in the tobacco town of Durham, North Carolina.
His high-pitched tenor voice was steeped in the gospel music he sang in much of his younger life.
Starting at the age of five, he sang in his father’s church gospel choir along with his three brothers and three sisters. When he was ten, Clyde was the soprano-voiced soloist for the choir. In 1945, Rev. McPhatter moved his family to Teaneck, New Jersey, where Clyde attended Chelsior High School. He worked part-time as a grocery store clerk, and was eventually promoted to shift manager upon graduating high school. The family then relocated to New York City, where Clyde formed the gospel group The Mount Lebanon Singers.
March 16, 1970 – Tammi Terrell was born Thomasina Winifred Montgomery on April 29, 1945. was an American recording artist, best known as a star singer for Motown Records during the 1960s, most notably for a series of duets with singer Marvin Gaye.
Before turning 16, Terrell signed under the Wand subsidiary of Scepter Records after being discovered by Luther Dixon, recording the ballad, “If You See Bill”, under the name Tammy Montgomery and doing demos for The Shirelles. After another single, Terrell left the label and, after being introduced to James Brown, signed a contract with him and began singing backup for his Revue concert tours. In 1963, she recorded the song “I Cried”. Released on Brown’s Try Me Records, it became her first charting single, reaching No. 99 on the Billboard Hot 100.
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