Airdate – Mar 27, 2022
The most pop oriented of Motown’s major female acts, was one that did not project as strong an identity as the Supremes, Mary Wells, or Martha Reeves, but recorded quite a few hits, including Motown’s first number one single in 1961, a song that the Beatles subsequently covered.
In 1963 the group had their one and only double-sided hit. It’s too bad that the charted B side is rarely heard today…
Despite 21 R&B chart hits and 23 pop hits over the period from 1961 – 1969, this girl group never really received the stardom they aspired to at Motown.
Originally a quintet, the five 17-year-olds entered a talent show at their high school in rural Inkster, Michigan. This led to an audition at Motown.
Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson liked what they heard from the group whose early influencers were the Chantels and the Shirelles. Although impressed, Gordy and Robinson sent them home, telling them to come up with an original hit song.
One of the leads in the group, Georgia Dobbins, approached a songwriting friend of hers, William Garrett, to see if he had anything that would be a fit for the group.
What resulted was Georgia Dobbins completely rewriting one of Garrett’s blues tunes, keeping only the title.
Soon afterwards, the group was back at Motown’s door. Gordy really liked what he heard, changed the group’s name from the Marvels to the Marvelettes and released “Please Mr. Postman” in the summer of 1961 on Motown’s subsidiary, Tamla Records. It was the first #1 record on a Motown label.
The Marvelettes subsequently followed up with “Playboy” and “Beechwood 4-5789” in 1962.
In 1963, they had their first double-sided hit. The title of B side sums up what the Marvelettes were thinking at the time – that they would be around “Forever,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song: