Gladys Horton: death of a marvelous woman
Marvelettes lead singer dies
Gladys Horton, former member and lead vocalist of “The Marvelettes,” died last week in Sherman Oaks, Calif., from complications related to a stroke. She is believed to have been 65, although her precise age remains uncertain.
Horton is best known for her part in creating the group’s first No. 1 pop-single, “Please Mr. Postman.”
The record, which was released in 1961, showcased what Berry Gordy Jr., founder of Motown Records, calls “a raspy, soulful sound,” and also features Marvin Gaye on the drums.
“Gladys was a very, very special lady,” he continued in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “We will all miss her, and she will always be a part of the Motown family.”
Horton was in her high-school glee club in Inkster, Michigan, outside Detroit, when she recruited three of her classmates—Katherine Anderson (now Schaffner), Georgeanna Tillman and Juanita Cowar—as well as a friend who had recently graduated, Georgia Dobbins, and formed a quintet.
They called themselves the “Casinyets”—a short form of the words “can’t sing yet,” an acknowledgment of their lack of vocal experience.
The group later decided to compete in a talent contest that offered an audition for Motown as its prize. They didn’t win, but were eventually signed anyway—largely based on the powerful vocal ability of Horton, who was only 15 years old at the time.
Their first release was a Blues song Dobbins obtained permission from a friend to re-write. She kept the name—“Please Mr. Postman.” That single was a big winner for the young group.
But despite the success of “Please Mr. Postman,” the Marvelettes failed to ever top the Billboard chart again. They did produce six top 20 singles in the years that followed (including “Beachwood 45789,” “Don’t Mess With Bill” and “Playboy.”
When Horton gave birth to her eldest son, Sammie, who had cerebral palsy, she left the group to care for him.
“I didn’t want to travel,” she said in a 1985 interview with The Times. “I had to spend my time caring for my son. I’m an orphan, so I don’t have any family I could leave him with while, I was carrying on with my singing career.”
Horton later moved to Los Angeles with hopes of reviving her career. She would return to the stage during the 1980s—a challenge complicated by legal restrictions on the use of the Marvelettes’ name—and continued to regularly perform up until her death.
Horton is survived by her sons, Sammie Coleman and Vaughn Thoernton; and two grandchildren.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Howard Theatre, the historic arts landmark that launched the careers of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes, re-opened after a $29-million renovation and a 32-year hiatus. The Howard Theatre came back to life with an opening lineup that included Wale, Wanda Sykes, The Roots, Robert Randolph, Taj Mahal, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), Meshell Ndegeocello, Bad Brains, Chuck Brown, Chuck Berry, Esperanza Spalding and a weekly Sunday Brunch featuring the Harlem Gospel Choir. The full schedule is available at www.thehowardtheatre.com.
Born in Jackson, Miss., and raised in Chicago, Lou developed a passion for competing. He was an intense competitor, and in his younger years, had an interest in baseball.
According to long-time friend and teammate, Norman Leche, both he and Lou moved to Los Angeles in 1955 to play in the Negro Baseball Leagues and the California Stockton Baseball League. He as a versatile athlete, playing short-stop, pitcher and a host of other positions. Among the teams he played for was the Indiana Clowns.
Harvey Fuqua, a music veteran—whose career started as founder of the R & B/Doo-Wop group, the Moonglows, and ended with him being known as one of the key record executives behind the development of Motown in Detroit—died July 6 just days shy of his birthday on July 27. He was 80.
Fuqua was born in Louisville, Ky., and in 1951 formed a group called the Crazy Sounds along with Bobby Lester, Alexander Graves and Prentiss Barnes.
Attorney Carl A. Earles, a native of Hemphill, Texas, died Saturday, May 18. Memorial services, beginning today, will be held at two locations.
He was born on June 24, 1922, and passed a little more than a month shy of his 91st birthday.
Earles received a bachelor of science degree from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, in 1943, and after graduation immediately enlisted in the United States Army. He served with distinction in the European Theater with the field artillery division and attended chemical warfare school.
Daniel Lee Jones, a native of Dekalb, Texas, passed away on Thursday, May 2, in Inglewood. He was 71.
He was born to Leonard Clevland Jones and Ida Mae Bailey on Jan. 17, 1942, the third of seven children.
Jones attended Booker T. Washington elementary and high schools. He was active in the high school band and choir.
After graduation, Jones moved to Los Angeles and attended Los Angeles City College and UCLA.