The Marvelettes were one of the first of the fabulous girl groups to put great rock-and-roll songs on the charts in the 60's.
The group was formed by Gladys Horton and others at Inkster High School in Inkster, Michigan [a suburb of Detroit] in the early 60's, and chose as the group name the "Casinyets," a contraction of "can't sing yet." The original group members were Horton, Georgeanna Marie Tillman, Katherine Anderson, Juanita Cowart and Georgia Dobbins. They originally got together to enter a talent contest, but a teacher put them in touch with Berry Gordy. Gordy liked what he saw, changed their name to the Marvelettes, and signed them to a contract with Tamla.
Georgia Dobbins had co-written a song that was to become their first -- and biggest -- hit in 1961. Please Mr. Postman launched a career that would see the group put 23 songs in the top 100 before disbanding. The song rocketed up the charts to number one and remained on the charts for fifteen weeks. It was later covered by the Beatles. A short time later, Georgia dropped out of the group to care for her mother and was replaced by Wanda Young.
Young and Horton both served as lead singers, making the Marvelettes different from other groups in that they had two outstanding lead singers. Following the success of Please Mr. Postman, Cowart left the group in 1962; there were other personnel changes throughout the 60's. Georgeanna Tillman, also known as Georgeanna Gordon [she married Billy Gordon of the Contours], left in 1965 and died fifteen years later. Gladys Horton left in 1967 and was replaced by Anne Bogan. Wanda Young married Bobby Rogers of the Miracles.
The group withstood the personnel changes, and persisted in putting songs in the top forty throughout the decade of the 60's. Playboy made the top ten in 1962. Smokey Robinson began to write songs for the group and to produce their recording sessions. The hits continued to come -- Beechwood 4-5789, Too Many Fish In The Sea, and another top ten in 1966 with Smokey's Don't Mess With Bill.
All of the Marvelettes' hits were recorded on the Tamla label. There were more written and produced by Smokey -- The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game and My Baby Must Be A Magician.
By 1970, the group consisted of Katherine Anderson, Wanda Rogers, and Anne Bogan. An album titled Return Of The Marvelettes was produced which was primarily a solo effort by Wanda Rogers, but which also included some background vocals by Anderson and Bogan.
There are groups touring today as the Marvelettes that do not include any members who sang with the Marvelettes in the 60's. The girls from Inkster High certainly made their mark on pop music in the 60's. Please Mr. Postman was the first Motown record to to cross over from the R&B charts and reach number one on the pop charts, an accomplishment of which the original members of the group are very proud.
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