Some significant artists and songs for this year of Motown…
Martha and the Vandellas
Hometown: Detroit Michigan
The label’s second most-successful all-female singing group after The Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were known for a churchier, more southern-styled soul than the Supremes, as typified in Motown hits such as “Come And Get These Memories” and “(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave”.
Come And Get These Memories: Martha & the Vandellas/Released/2/22/63 Pop #29 R&B #6
(Love is Like A) Heat Wave: Martha & the Vandellas/Released/7/10/63 Pop #4 R&B #1
The group had its origins in Detroit, Michigan in 1957, and had initially gone by the name The Del-Phis. It originally was a quartet comprising childhood friends Martha Reeves, Rosalind Ashford, Annette Beard, and original lead singer Gloria Williams.
Williams left after a failed single on the Checkmate label, leaving the quartet as a trio. They changed their name to The Vells signing a deal with Motown’s Mel-o-dy label, and singing background for established Motown performers such as Mary Wells and Marvin Gaye before signing a new deal with Motown’s Gordy label on September 21, 1962, after which the group changed its name to Martha and the Vandellas.
In 1964, the Vandellas’ lineup would change with Betty Kelley replacing Sterling. In 1967, Kelley was fired and was replaced by Martha’s younger sister, Sandra “Lois” Reeves. In 1969, Ashford was also fired and replaced by Sandra Tilley, now deceased.
Steveland Morris Hardaway: (Stevie Wonder)
Hometown: Detroit Michigan
Stevie Wonder (born May 13, 1950 Saginaw, MI) is a singer, songwriter, producer, musician, humanitarian and social activist. Although his name at birth was Stevland Judkins, he later changed his name to Stevland Morris. His mother’s biography states that his surname was legally changed to Morris, “an old family name,” in 1961 when he signed with Motown.
Wonder has recorded more than 30 Top 10 hits, won two dozen Grammy’s, also one for lifetime achievement, and been inducted into both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters halls of fame.
Blind from infancy, Wonder has become one of the most successful and well-known artists on the Motown label, with nine U.S. #1 hits to his name and album sales totaling more than 70 million units. He has recorded several critically acclaimed albums and hit singles, and writes and produces songs for many of his label mates and outside artists as well.
A multi-instrumentalist, Wonder plays the drums, guitar, synthesizers, congas, and most famously the piano, keyboards and harmonica. Here’s one of his great hits from 1963…
Fingertips Part 2: Little Stevie Wonder/Released/5/21/63 Pop #1 R&B #1
Wonder enters his fifth decade as one of the most prolific artists in music history, delivering 35 U.S. albums – 28 major studio releases – with album sales totaling more than 72 million units. The singer/songwriter has scored more than 30 Top Ten Hits, 11 #1 Pop singles, winning 19 Grammy’s (and a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in ‘96) and a host of other awards, including, most recently, Billboard’s 2004 Century Award.
Other Great Hits of 1963
Mickey’s Monkey: The Miracles (Smokey Robinson)/Released/7/26/63 Pop # 8 R&B # 1
Leaving Here: Eddie Holland/Released/10/19/63 Pop #76
Pride and Joy: Marvin Gaye/Released/4/18/63 Pop 10 R&B # 2
Can I get a Witness: Marvin Gaye
Love Is Like A Heat Wave: Martha and The Vandellas