Gladys Horton of The Marvelettes, the girl group who set the stage for the Motown girl groups to come, passed on January 26, 2011 at the age of 66. The cause was complications from a stroke.
Gladys Horton was born in Detroit in 1944. She took an interest in singing while still fairly young. She was only fifteen when she formed the Casinyets with Georgeanna Tillman, Katherine Anderson and Juanita Cowart. and Georgia Dobbins. A performance at a 1961 talent show led to one of their teachers arranging an audition for Barry Gordy at Motown. The label signed The Marvelettes, making them Motown's first girl group. It was in the summer of 1961 that Motown released their first single, "Please, Mr. Postman," which went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The group would have another hit with "Playboy" and "Beechwood 4-5789" in `1962.
From 1963 to 1964, none of The Marvelettes' singles reached the top forty, but they would make a comeback in late 1964 with "Too Many Fish in the Sea," which went to #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in 1965 with "Don't Mess with Bill," which went to #7. They would have three more hit singles, "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game," "When You're Young and in Love," and "My Baby Must Be a Magician." Gladys Horton would leave The Marvelettes in 1967, in part to care for her disabled son. Miss Horton would later reunite with The Marvelettes in the Eighties, performing as Gladys Horton and The Marvelettes.
The Marvelettes would have an huge impact on the history of pop music. As Motown's first girl group, they paved the way for such groups as Martha and the Vandellas and The Supremes, as well as girl groups on other labels, such as The Ronettes and The Shangri-Las. Much of the reason for the group's success was Gladys Horton's powerful voice. She sang lead on their major hits, including their first one, "Please, Mr. Postman." It is significant that the group's fortunes declined after she left in 1967. As a lead vocalist for one of the earliest girl groups, Gladys Horton will be remembered.