Lamont Dozier, the hallowed songwriter and producer who helped to create the Motown sound with the classic songs and recordings he created with brothers Brian and Eddie Holland, has died at the age of 81.
Dozier co-wrote and/or produced 14 US pop No.1 singles as his name became forever entwined with the “Sound of Young America” created by Motown in Detroit in the 1960s. The trio of writer-producers were the heartbeat of endless scores of classic records created in the so-called “Snakepit” of the Motown studio, by such artists as Martha and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops, the Isley Brothers, and perhaps most memorably of all, the Supremes.
Born in Detroit on June 16, 1941, Lamont Herbert Dozier sang as a teenager in local groups such the Romeos and the Voice Masters. His association with Berry Gordy began when he signed with his fellow writer and producer’s fledgling Motown company, releasing his first single “Let’s Talk It Over” on the Anna imprint in 1960, under the name Lamont Anthony.
But it was Dozier’s mastery as a song and record creator for other artists that he became indispensable, especially when he started to write with the Holland brothers in 1963. Their first substantial success came that year with “Come and Get These Memories,” a Top 10 R&B hit for Martha and the Vandellas, written by the trio and produced by Dozier and Brian Holland. Their first No.1, and that for the Vandellas, arrived the same year with “Heat Wave.”
The flood gates opened into years of unparalleled achievement, via such songs and productions as Gaye’s “Can I Get A Witness,” “You’re A Wonderful One,” and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)”; the Four Tops’ “Baby, I Need Your Loving,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” “It’s The Same Old Song” and many more; hits for Kim Weston, the Miracles, Jr. Walker and the Allstars, and almost every other major Motown act, but most notably, the Supremes.
In 1964, “Where Did Our Love Go” began a run of five consecutive pop No.1s for the trio, followed by “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me”, “Stop! In the Name of Love,” and “Back in My Arms Again,” all overseen by the mighty H-D-H. Further timeless chart-toppers by the Supremes that were created by the trio, for a total of ten, were “I Hear A Symphony,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone,” and “The Happening.”
H-D-H left Motown in 1968 after a royalty dispute, forming their own labels Invictus and Hot Wax, forging new hits with the likes of Freda Payne and Chairmen of the Board on the former, and the Honey Cone and 100 Proof (Aged In Soul) on the latter. Dozier had his own R&B Top Ten entry on Invictus with the memorable “Why Can’t We Be Lovers.”
He recorded extensively in his own name from 1973’s Out Here On My Own, his solo debut in a list that also included Black Bach (1974), 1977’s Peddlin’ Music on the Side (featuring his original “Going Back To My Roots,” a spirited 1981 hit for Odyssey) and 1981’s Lamont. Dozier’s biggest solo hits, all from Out Here On My Own, were “Trying To Hold On To My Woman,” “Fish Ain’t Bitin,’” and “Let’s Start Tonite,” each of which reached No.4 R&B.
The 1980s brought more acclaim and new collaborators including Phil Collins, with whom he wrote the Golden Globe-winning “Two Hearts” for the Buster soundtrack as well as the Four Tops’ “Loco In Acapulco.” British vocalist Alison Moyet scored with Dozier’s “Invisible” and there were pairings with another UK writer-artist, Mick Hucknall, for Simply Red’s A New Flame and Men and Women albums. Holland, Dozier, and Holland were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.