Sunday, July 11, 2010

Songwriter Harvey Fuqua Passes On

Harvey Fuqua, songwriter and founder of The Moonglows, passed on July 6, 2010 at the age of 80. The cause was a heart attack.

Harvey Fuqua was born on July 27, 1920 in Louisville, Kentucky. His uncle was Charlie Fuqua of The Inkspots. Because of this, Mr. Fuqua was exposed to music very early in life. As a child he spent a good deal of time singing on street corners with friends. Mr. Fuqua served in the United States Army, and following his demobilisation, he formed  a scat style group called The Crazy Sounds. The Crazy Sounds came to the attention of legendary disc jockey Alan Freed in 1952. Mr. Freed became their manager and changed the name of the group to The Moonglows.

The Moonglows would release one single on Mr. Freed's own record label, Champagne, before signing with Chance Records. Experiencing little success with Chance, The Moonglows signed with Chess Records in 1954. That same year their single "Sincerely" hit #1 on the Billboard R&B chart. The Moonglows would chart several hits on the R&B chart, including "Most of All," "When I'm with You," "In My Diary, "We Go Together" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love."

It was in 1959 that Harvey Fuqua reshaped The Moonglows. Having seen a young group out of Washington D.C. called The Marquees (including a young Marvin Gaye), Mr. Fuqua took them under his wing and made them the new Moonglows. Under the name Harvey and The Moonglows, the group had a hit with "Ten Commandments of Love." It was in 1960 that Mr.Fuqua disbanded The Moonglows, and he and Marvin Gaye moved to Detroit to work at Anna Records with Gwen Gordy, Barry Gordy's sister. There he produced records for Lamount Dozier, The Spinners, Johnny Bristol, and others. He also formed his own labels, Tri-Phi and Harvey, in 1961. Eventually tiring of running these companies, Mr. Fuqua sold them to Motown. With him he brought Johnny Bristol, The Spinners, Junior Walker and the All Stars, Shorty Long, and, most importantly, Marvin Gaye.

At Motown Harvey Fuqua worked as the head of artist development. He co-wrote The Supremes' "Someday We'll Be Together," and produced songs for a wide range of the label's artists. In 1969 Mr. Fuqua left MoTown to sign a production deal with RCA. At RCA he produced such artists as The Nitelighters, New Birth, and Sylvester. In the Eighties Harvey Fuqua would leave RCA to once more work with Marvin Gaye, producing the album Midnight Love. In 2000 Mr. Fuqua formed the label Resurging Artists.  He also released a solo album.

Harvey Fuqua was the founder and leader of one of the seminal doo wop groups,  The Moonglows. Their first hit, "Sincerely," co-written by Mr. Fuqua and Alan Freed, went onto become a standard which has been recorded several times over. Mr. Fuqua was important in the history of Motown records, as it was through Anna Records that he and Gwen Gordy distributed the first Motown single, "Money (That's What I Want)" by Barrett Strong. He also brought many artists to Motown, including the legendary Marvin Gaye. As a songwriter he was responsible for many Motown hits. As a producer he played a role in creating the Motown sound. Quite simply, Harvey Fuqua was central to the history of R&B music.

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