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Lamont Dozier

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Lamont Dozier, who with brothers Eddie and Brian Holland made up arguably the greatest songwriting and production team in the history of American pop music, has died at the age of 81 (the Holland brothers are both still with us).

From the Songwriters Hall of Fame:

Over a four-year period, 1963-67, Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland crafted more than 25 top 10 songs and mastered the blend of pop and rhythm and blues that allowed the Detroit label, and founder Berry Gordy, to defy boundaries between Black and white music and rival the Beatles on the airwaves. 

The catalog the trio would create in the 1960’s was a major part of the Motown success. The team of Holland-Dozier-Holland churned out a massive stream of songs for the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, The Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye. Catalog highlights include “Baby Love”, “Where Did Our Love Go”, “Baby I Need Your Loving”, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”, “Stop! In The Name of Love”, “Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart”, “Heat Wave”, “Nowhere to Run”, “Bernadette”, “It’s The Same Old Song” and more. Holland-Dozier-Holland were the architects of the self-titled Sound of Young America, and created the songs that turned a fledgling Detroit record company into an industry groundbreaker and powerhouse.

After leaving Motown, Holland-Dozier-Holland had a string of hits on the Invictus and Hot Wax labels that rank with their best at Motown. The post-Motown period produced Freda Payne’s “Band Of Gold” and Chairmen of the Board’s “Give Me Just A Little More Time” and “Why Can’t We Be Lovers”. . .

Reflecting on the 60’s Motown collaboration with the Hollands, Dozier said that he and the Hollands had no idea in the ’60s what impact their songs were having on America, they were too busy cranking them out. “We were just kids, banging this stuff out,” he said. “We had no idea these songs would be around one day to the next, much less 35 to 40 years later.”

The role the Motown label played in breaking down the barriers in mainstream (meaning of course white) culture in the USA to the acceptance of what at the time was called “race music” was immense. The sociological importance of this development can be compared to that played by the integration of major professional sports by pioneering figures such as Jackie Robinson and the late Bill Russell.

In many ways the Holland-Dozier-Holland team was Motown, during the period when a record label was playing such an important role in the ever-so slow integration of American culture and society.

RIP

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