MOONGLOWS, WAS AN EARLY MENTOR OF MARVIN GAYE
Soul singer, songwriter, record producer and record label executive Harvey Fuqua, who founded the R&B/doo-wop group the Moonglows, and discovered singer Marvin Gaye and others, died Tuesday, July 6th in a Detroit hospital at 5:15 PM EST. He was 80.
Born on July 27, 1929, in Louisville, KY, Fuqua (the nephew of Charlie Fuqua of the Ink Spots) started a vocal group in his hometown called the Crazy Sounds. Later, they moved to Cleveland , OH, where Fuqua was the lead singer with Bobby Lester, Alexand er “Pete” Graves and Prentiss Barnes, with Billy Johnson on guitar.
The group caught the eye of legendary rock & roll DJ Alan Freed, who got them to appear on his radio show and concerts. In 1952, Freed signed the group to his Champagne Records label after changing their name to the Moonglows. They later left Freed and signed to Chance Records for a short stay, then signed to Chess Records.
Their first single, “Sincerely,” became an instant doo-wop classic in November, 1954. Later hits included “Most of All” (1955), “See Saw” (1956), and “Please Send Me Someone To Love” (1957).
In early 1958, the group broke up. It was then that Fuqua met a young vocal group from Washington, DC who called themselves the Marquees. One of the group’s members was Marvin Gaye, whose vocals especially impressed Fuqua.
Trying to keep the sound of the Moonglows alive, Fuqua joined the group together, and with Reese Palmer, James Knowland , Chester Simmons, Chuck Barksdale (on loan from the Dells) and Gaye, he continued to record. The group changed their name to Harvey and the Moonglows.
In 1958, they scored their massive signature hit, “Ten Command ments of Love.”
Later that year, Fuqua left the group, while still retaining Gaye. He joined Anna Records, a small label in Detroit, MI under then fledgling producer Berry Gordy.
There he recorded Lamont Dozier and Johnny Bristol, two talents who would go on to success with Motown Records. Meanwhile, Fuqua was still working with Chess, producing sides on Etta James.
In 1961, he started his own independent labels, Tri-Phi and Harvey Records. His roster included the Spinners, Junior Walker & the All Stars and Shorty Long.
After growing tired of the rigors of running a small independent label with no distribution or edge against the major labels, Fuqua got a break when he was hired by Berry Gordy to head Motown’s Artist Development department.
The move allowed Fuqua to bring Johnny Bristol, Tammi Terrell and the Spinners to Motown Records, where he was assisted by Gwen Gordy, Anna Gordy, Maxine Powell and Cholly Atkins.
Success began to happen for Fuqua as he recorded Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (summer 1967), “Your Precious Love” (fall 1967), and “If This World Were Mine” (late 1967).
He also scored a hit with former Temptations lead singer David Ruffin’s solo “My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me) (early 1969).
In 1971, Fuqua left Motown Records, signing a production deal with RCA Records. Two acts that he had previously signed to his talent agency, The Nightlighters (“K-Jee”) and New Birth (“It’s Been A Long Time”) were also signed to the label. He also discovered disco pioneer Sylvester, producing several hit singles, including “Dance (Disco Heat”) and “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” Fuqua was also Smokey Robinson’s road manager for a while.
The Moonglows reunited in 1972, with Fuqua, Lester, Graves, Doc Williams, and Chuck Lewis. They produced an LP, “The Return of the Moonglows,” and made a remake of “Sincerely, ” which went to number 43 on the R&B chart.
The summer of 1982 saw Fuqua reuniting with Marvin Gaye, collaborating on Gaye’s “Midnight Love” LP which went to number seven pop in late 1982, sold two million copies, including the gold single “Sexual Healing” which stayed at number one R&B for ten weeks.
The Moonglows received the 1995 Pioneer Awards and were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
In 2000, he set up his own Resurging Artist Records, and was an Advisory Board member of The Rhythm and Blues Foundation.
Fuqua was working with S.T.A.R.S., an inspirational group at the time of his transition.
Memorial services are pending.