FOR MOTOWN LEAD SINGER
sang one of the most famous lines in Pop Music history:
"Deliver de letter, the sooner de better!"
She was Gladys Horton - former lead singer, and co-founder
of Motown's famous all-female group, The Marvelettes
- who passed away on January 26th. A memorial service
for her took place on Tuesday, February 22nd, at Forest
Lawn Memorial Park located in Hollywood Hills, California.
this high-spirited celebration of Horton's life, long-time
friend and cohort Betty Kelley who sang with Martha
Reeves and the Vandellas said, "[from now on]
every time we hear 'Mr. Postman', we'll know that
Gladys finally received her letter!" The roughness
in her voice on that recording really projected the
urgency of a lover pleading for a message from her
also sang lead on subsequent Marvelettes recordings
like "Playboy", "Twistin' Postman",
"Beechwood 4-5789", and "Too Many Fish
in The Sea", among others. Legend has it that
co-writer of "Postman" Robert Bateman who
also served as one of Motown's early engineers came
up with the idea to put an echo on the "deliver
de letter" line during the vamp. While other
engineers contested his method in accomplishing what
he wanted with the limited technology they had at
the time, he used some old fashioned Yankee ingenuity
and got the desired result. At one time, the Los Angeles
Times did an article about one of the co-writers,
Freddie Gorman, a member of the Motown group called
"The Originals", who had actually become
a postman later in his life. Also, "Postman"
history reveals that it was Marvin Gaye on drums!
service was attended by many friends and family members.
Horton's son Vaughn Thornton said he did not realize
how famous his mom was because they did not grow up
in the Motown lifestyle after his mom's departure
from The Marvelettes in the 1960's. He said, "Mom
still gave us a rich upbringing." He learned
even more when Horton moved the family from Inkster
Michigan to California, and they lived with legendary
singer Mary Wells for a while. Horton's Motown family
in attendance at the service included: Janie Bradford
(who co-wrote "Money [That's What I Want]"),
Claudette Robinson (The Miracles), Scherrie Payne
(The Supremes), Susaye Greene (The Supremes), Cornelius
Grant (The Temptations' bandleader), Richard Street
(The Temptations), Marvin Marshall (former bandleader
for The Temptations and The Supremes), and Clara Jackson
Ruffin (former wife of singer Jimmy Ruffin). Acknowledgements
from Motown's The Velvelettes and Congresswoman Maxine
Waters were offered as well. Jon Bauman, former member
of the group Sha Na Na, made some heartfelt comments,
and brought some (in-the-works) good news to the surviving
members of The Marvelettes about troubling imitators.
Marvelettes member Katherine Anderson-Schaffner opined
that the early Motown experiences were very challenging,
and let the audience know that after "Postman"
became Motown's first number one Pop hit, "'Postman'
sales helped Motown grow!" Two other original
members seated front row, Juanita Cowart Motley, and
Georgia Dobbins chimed in agreement. Dobbins, by the
way, was co-creator of "Postman" but had
to drop out of the group before the song got to the
his Message of Comfort titled "This Marvelous
Life", Minister Wayne C. Hopkins said, "Gladys
not only cared, but cared to take the extra step
care of her family."
is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of Things
Are Gettin Outta Hand (Steuben Pub.) www.amazon.com.
Visit the author at www.editorialbylarry.com
Photo available upon request