Monday, August 15, 2022

Late Great Songwriter Lamont Dozier

Singer and songwriter Lamont Dozier died on August 8 2022 at the age of 81. With brothers Brian and Eddie Holland he was one third of the songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland. Together they wrote such hits as "Heat Wave" by Martha and The Vandellas, "Baby Love" by The Supremes, "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" by Marvin Gaye, "It's the Same Old Song" by The Four Tops, and many others.

Lamont Dozier was born on June 16 1941 in Detroit, Michigan. It was a teacher in elementary school who encouraged him in his writing. By the time he was 12 or 13, he would be setting his words to music. He was 15 when he formed the doo-wop group The Romeos. The Romeos would record two singles, ""Gone, Gone, Get Away" and "Moments to Remember You By." After The Romeos disbanded, Lamont Dozier auditioned for the new label, Anna Records. At the label, he became part of the group The Voice Masters. The Voice Masters released a total of five singles from 1957 to 1961.

It was in 1961, using the name Lamont Anthony, he released his first solo single. The A-side was "Let's Talk It Over," but the label preferred the B-side, "Popeye." "Popeye" was subsequently withdrawn due to objections from King Features, the copyright holders of the character Popeye. It was re-recorded as "Benny the Skinny Man." In 1961 he released one last single under the name Lamont Anthony, this one under the Checkmate label. It was "Just to Be Loved."

It was also in 1961 that Lamont Dozier received a job offer from Barry Gordy, Jr., to work for his new label Motown. He would receive a salary of $25 a week against royalties. Lamont Dozier began working with another young songwriter, Brian Holland. Brian's older brother, Eddie Holland, soon joined them. Together Holland-Dozier-Holland would write many of Motown's biggest hits, composing songs for such artists as The Marvelettes, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, Martha and The Vandellas, and The Four Tops.

Dozier-Holland-Dozier left Motown in 1967 after a dispute over royalties and profit-sharing with Barry Gordy. They went onto start their own labels, Invictus and Hot Wax. It was in 1973 that Lamont Dozier left the team and resumed his singing career. In 1973 he released his debut solo album, Out Here On My Own. He released the single "Trying to Hold on to My Woman," which went to no. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. From 1974 to 2018 he would release eleven more albums. He would also co-write songs with such songwriters as Eric Clapton, Mike Hucknall of Simply Red, and Phil Collins. He also wrote songs for such artists Alison Moyet, Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle, Debbie Gibson, and Joss Stone.

Along with his partners, Brian and Eddie Holland, there can be no doubt that Lamont Dozier was one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Arguably, it was as much songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland who were responsible for the success of Motown as it was the label's various artists. Some important was the songwriting and production team to Motown that in 1986 Mary Wilson of The Supremes told The Washington Post, "Holland-Dozier-Holland left and the sound was gone." Few songwriters could ever match the success of Lamont Dozier.

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