Holland-Dozier-Holland were three young men who comprised one of the top songwriting teams of the 1960's. They wrote many of the popular hits that came from Motown at that time.
The trio consisted of brothers Eddie and Brian Holland (born in 1939 and 1941 respectively) and Lamont Dozier (born in 1941). All were from Detroit. Eddie Holland worked for Barry Gordy's music publishing company and sang on some of Gordy's early demos. A soundalike for Jackie Wilson, he had a few minor hits on the Motown label; the most successful of these Jamie made the R&B chart and rose to #30 on the pop chart in 1962. He had three other hits in the top 100. Brian Holland was a producer with Motown; his most successful early effort, with Robert Bateman, was Please Mr. Postman, a #1 hit for the Marvelettes in1961. Lamont Dozier sang with a group called the Romeos at age 15 before going to New York to work at a job unrelated to music. On his return to Detroit in 1958 he recorded with little success (as Lamont Anthony) for some of the lesser Motown labels.
From 1962 to 1967 these three collaborated on writing songs for the stars of Motown. Brian Holland and Dozier would serve as composers of the music and producers of the records; Eddie Holland wrote lyrics and arranged vocals. Many of the 45 RPM records sold in the 60's on the Motown label became familiar for the Holland-Dozier-Holland line that was printed on the label. They wrote many of the hits that were recorded by the Supremes and the Four Tops, as well as for artists such as the Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, and Martha & the Vandellas. In the early 70's some of their songs were written under the pseudonym Edythe Wayne. Among the many compositions turned out by Holland, Dozier and Holland (those with a star went to #1 on the Billboard chart):
The three were at odds with Barry Gordy at times, primarily over issues such as royalties, and by the end of the decade they had left Motown on not-very-friendly terms. In 1969 Gordy sued the trio, alleging breach of contract, and the disagreement was settled out of court. Holland, Dozier and Holland formed record labels of their own, such as Invictus and Hot Wax. They promoted artists that included Freda Payne, The Honey Cone, and Chairmen of the Board. The Honey Cone was an interesting group. Formed in LA with experienced back-up singers Carolyn Willis, Shellie Clark, and Edna Wright, they reached #1 with their biggest hit Want Ads, on Hot Wax, in 1971. Willis was later replaced by Denise Mills; Willis had previously sung with Bobb B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans and would later become a featured singer with Seals & Crofts.
Brian Holland had a minor hit as a solo recording artist with Don't Leave Me Starvin' For Your Love on Invictus in 1973. Lamont Dozier returned to singing as a solo artist, at the urging of the Four Tops. He had some minor hits in the 70's, including Trying To Hold On To My Woman and Fish Ain't Bitin'. Dozier produced Aretha Franklin's Sweet Passion in 1977. He later made amends at Motown and returned to that label with the Four Tops to produce some of their later records there.
Holland, Dozier and Holland wrote many songs that became pop classics, and are remembered by many for their work at Motown in the 60's. Their compositions have been covered by many recording artists over the years. More than thirty of their songs went to the top ten. Holland, Dozier and Holland were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
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