Freddie Gorman: 1939-2006 Jun 22, 2006 2:03:09 GMT -5
Post by ClassicSoul on Jun 22, 2006 2:03:09 GMT -5
Originals singer penned hit songs, too
Another part of Motown history passed into the history books this past week with the death of Freddie Gorman on June 13 in Los Angeles. He was 67.
A Detroit service for Gorman will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Immanuel House of Prayer Church, 147 E. Grand Blvd.
Gorman is best known for his stint as lead singer of the Originals, the male group whose harmonies were in the background of many Motown hits, including Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted," Stevie Wonder's "Yester-You, Yester-Me" and "For Once in My Life" and many more.
But his singing career actually stretched back to the '50s, when Gorman recorded with the Quailtones and then the Fideltones. By 1961, he was recording as a solo artist for Berry Gordy's Miracle label. Then he jumped to Ed Wingate's Ric-Tic label as a solo artist in the mid-'60s, before returning to Motown to form the Originals.
At the same time he was pursuing a singing career, Gorman had a parallel career writing songs. He wrote often with Brian Holland, and with Holland helped co-write "Please, Mr. Postman," which put the Marvelettes on the map in 1961.
Probably his biggest songwriting coup was when he co-wrote "Just Like Romeo and Juliet," the 1964 smash hit on Golden World Records for the Reflections.
"Freddie was a one-of-a-kind guy. He was top notch," said Tony Micale, lead singer of the Reflections. "His claim was 'Mr. Postman,' and he and Bob Hamilton were assigned to us as writers. They wrote just about everything we did -- except for some things that Popcorn Wylie wrote for us."
But Gorman's biggest splash as an artist was still to come.
While the Originals seemingly were stuck in a hitless rut, Marvin Gaye co-wrote (with then-wife Anna Gordy Gaye) and produced a song expressly for them, "Baby, I'm for Real," a beautiful throwback to the doo-wop era that hit big in 1969, which was in the middle of the psychedelic era.
This time it was Gaye who put backing vocals on a song for the Originals.
The song highlighted the Originals' four strong lead voices, with Gorman starting it out, and C.P. Spencer, Walter Gaines and Hank Dixon each taking a few lines. Gaye followed that song up with another hit production with the Originals, "The Bells."
After Spencer's death, Gorman and the Originals toured, and appeared on a recent PBS special with Dixon's daughter, Terri, stepping in as the fourth vocalist.
"Freddie was a fantastic individual and true gentleman," said Claudette Robinson of the original Miracles (and Smokey's ex). Robinson reckons that she's known Gorman and his wife for some 50 years. Her brother Emerson Rogers played in the band with Gorman at Greusel Intermediate School on Detroit's east side -- Gorman played saxophone.
Gorman is survived by wife Dodie, daughter Sheila, sons Derek and Dillon, sisters Patricia and Cheryl, brother Quitman, and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Apart from Thursday's service at Imanuel House of Prayer Church, flowers will be received at the C.W. Morris Funeral Home, 12700 Hamilton Ave. in Highland Park. Call (313) 868-3500.