Wanda Young, co-singer of popular Motown band The Marvelettes, died on December 15.
She was 78 years old.
Young was remembered by other Motown artists for his distinctive voice, wit, and stage presence.
“We were kids,” Motown singer Carolyn Crawford said, recalling her experiences with Young in the early 1960s. “We did a lot of record hopping together, the Marvelettes and the Velvelettes. He was a pleasant and sympathetic person.
Young was a student at Inkster High School when she replaced the original Marvelette Georgia Dobbins, whose parents refused to sign her singing career. With all the right stuff in place, the troupe signed a deal with Motown in 1961. In August of that year, the label released “Please Mr. Postman,” written by Dobbins, and it steadily climbed the charts. , peaking at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 11, 1961 and remaining atop the R&B chart for seven weeks. Young sang the ballad “So Long, Baby” on the B side.
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Two years later, the Beatles would cover “Postman” and in 1975 the Carpenters cover the song in first place.
“Postman” holds a unique place in music history as the first top of the Motown charts. Young performed backing vocals on this debut hit, but sang on many subsequent Marvelettes songs, including “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game”, “You’re My Remedy”, “I’ll Keep Holding On”, ” Locking Up My Heart, ”“ Too Many Fish in the Sea, ”“ My Baby Must Be a Magician ”and the Million-Sold Gold Record“ Don’t Mess With Bill, ”written by Smokey Robinson.
Robinson produced a solo album for Young in 1970. Motown management, however, felt it would be best marketed as a Marvelettes release and titled it “Return of the Marvelettes,” despite the lack of participation from the Marvelettes. other members of the group. The record sold poorly and in 1972 Young left the label, later recording in the 1980s for Motorcity Records, before reuniting with fellow Marvelette Gladys Horton, who sang the lead role on “Please Mr. Postman” for the album “Marvelettes Now!”
Horton died in 2011 at the age of 66. The group was nominated to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 and 2015.
Crawford was part of a concert held in March 1990 at the Pontchartrain Hotel which featured Young and several other classic Motown artists. Young had suffered several tragedies and had not performed in public for several years, Crawford said.
“We hadn’t seen her for so long,” Crawford told The Free Press, “and she was going through some rough times. But we all got together and made up her and everything, and she was so pretty, and that Marvelette walked out of her, I saw the person she was back with when we were doing those record skips, and she let us know the Marvelette that she still is.
“She was down to earth, like Mary Wilson,” Crawford added. “We didn’t have a lot of private time together, but we were the Motown family.”
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Singer Claudette Robinson, the first female artist to sign on the Tamla / Motown label, as part of The Miracles, paid tribute to Young via Twitter:
“A very sad day for our @motown family and music fans around the world. Wanda was a star on Earth and now she is a star in Heaven. Put on #Marvelettes and turn up the volume.
The Motown label also took to Twitter remember Young:
“We are so saddened by the news of Wanda Young’s passing from Marvelettes. What an impact she has had on the world of Classic Motown and the lives of so many. Her legacy will live on.
And the Motown Museum, via Facebook:
“Known for her captivating voice and witty stage presence, Wanda has helped The Marvelettes become one of Motown Records’ many success stories.
“The Motown Museum remembers Wanda Rogers for providing the world with a treasure trove of timeless music and for her pioneering contributions to Motown Records. We send our condolences to his loved ones and fans around the world. “