The Marvelettes were one of Motown’s 1960s girl groups.
Founded in 1960 by Detroit schoolfriends Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman, Juanita Cowart and Georgia Dobbins, they began singing as The Casinyets (as in the “can’t sing yets”). Coming fourth place in a local talent show as The Marvels, they then auditioned for the Motown label in front of Brian Holland and Robert Bateman, and then again in front of Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy. Impressed, they were asked to come back with their own song (!).
Georgia got one from her friend William Garrett entitled “Please, Mr. Postman”, reworked it for the group, but then left. Gladys hired fellow schoolfriend Wanda Young as her replacement and they performed their new composition for Motown. Berry signed them to his Tamla label in 1961 and they were renamed The Marvelettes.
“Please, Mr. Postman”, reworked (again) by Motown, became the label’s first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Similarly-styled compositions followed and the group continued to score hits throughout the early 1960s. Juanita Cowart left in 1963 after suffering with mental illness, and Georgeanna Tilmann (now Georgeanna Gordon after marrying Billy Gordon of The Contours) left in 1965 as she suffered with sickle-cell anemia.
The remaining members continued to record as a trio and enjoyed a resurgence in the mid-to-late 1960s under the guidance of writer and producer Smokey Robinson. Wanda Young (now Wanda Rogers after marrying Miracles member Bobby Rogers) became the group’s main lead singer in 1965. Original member Gladys Horton left in 1967 following the birth of her first child and was replaced by Ann Bogan in 1968; success began to dry up thereafter.
Wanda recorded a solo album in 1970 (The Return of The Marvelettes) but Motown producers did not think her name had enough appeal and decided to market it as a Marvelettes album. The other Marvelettes refused to participate in the photoshoot for the album cover and the group disbanded soon after.
Gladys Horton was offered to sign with Ian Levine’s Motorcity Records, and Wanda Rogers joined her. The two recorded one album, Now!, and released several singles. Gladys returned to performing and continued to do so until her death in 2011. Original member Georgeanna Tillman had died in 1980. The group are no longer together.
The Marvels of The Marvelettes
- PLEASE, MR. POSTMAN
- YOU’RE MY REMEDY
- TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA
- I’LL KEEP HOLDING ON
- MY BABY MUST BE A MAGICIAN
- THE HUNTER GETS CAPTURED BY THE GAME