According to a statement posted on Instagram by his son, Lamont Dozier, a legendary songwriter for Motown who wrote hits for the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and other giants, has passed away. He was 81.
Lamont Dozier Jr. posted a picture of himself with his father along with the message, “Rest in Heavenly Peace, Dad.”
The musician and songwriter from Detroit was a success for Motown Records. The label’s founder, Berry Gordy, honored Dozier in a statement to CNN.
“The entire Motown Family will miss Lamont, who was a wonderful friend. I send my deepest sympathies to his family and friends “stated Gordy.
Along with the Holland brothers, Brian and Edward, Dozier was a member of the songwriting group Holland-Dozier-Holland. Together, they were responsible for some of the most memorable earworms of the 1960s and 1970s, including “Reach Out I’ll Be There” by the Four Tops, “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “You Can’t Hurry Love” by the Supremes, Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is,” and Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heat Wave.”
Before the trio was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, musician and author Andrew Schwartz opined that “if Holland, Dozier, and Holland’s output had begun and stopped with just five songs, their words and melodies would still ring today. But these acclaimed masterpieces are simply the apex of a creative peak that started to form thirty years ago.
The trio needed some time to establish themselves in the Detroit music scene, though. When neither group had yet produced a hit that would make them household names, Gordy paired Dozier and his associates with Diana Ross and the Supremes in 1963, and the rest is history.
Dozier was an unorthodox songwriter who, according to an interview he gave to “Fresh Air” in 2004, would start at the piano with Eddie Holland and write a song based on an “idea or sensation of sorts.” He claimed that some of their most memorable songs were influenced by real-life sayings—”sugar pie honey bunch,” anyone?—and, of course, their own romantic adventures.
He admitted to the Detroit Free Press in 2019 that he couldn’t read or write music. “When I sat down at the piano, I played everything by ear and instinct.”
In a 2005 interview with Songwriter Universe, Dozier described his tenure at Motown Records as “amazing.”
Everything we touched at this time, he added, “seemed to go directly into the Top 10.” “It seemed as though we had just discovered the best door on “The Price Is Right,” where the rewards never stop coming! The hits kept coming. Numerous of our songs have become well-known pieces of the American Songbook.”
Dozier admitted to the Free Press in 2019 that it wasn’t perfect: “There were a lot of things happening behind the scenes that aren’t written about — the moments where there was sometimes jealousy and envy, which you had to overlook so your ego didn’t get in the way of your talent or your purpose, which was to write a hit song.”
After clashing with Gordy over royalties, the trio left Motown and launched their own record labels, Invictus and Hot Wax, where they released music by artists like Chairmen of the Board and Laura Lee. He experimented with a solo singing and songwriting career in 1973, and in the decade that followed, he worked with musicians like Phil Collins, with whom he co-wrote and produced the Oscar-nominated song “Two Hearts.”
Dozier and the Holland brothers were elected into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, more than 25 years after they originally collaborated with the Supremes to create his biggest successes. In his 2019 autobiography, “How Sweet It Is: A Songwriter’s Reflections on Music, Motown, and the Mystery of the Muse,” he discussed this accomplishment as well as others, as well as some disappointments.
He lists 19 guidelines for outstanding songwriting in his autobiography. He urged readers to understand that “there are no terrible days”—only “learning days”—in the final principle.
There is a method to advance and get better, he wrote. “You have to approach writing and life with humble awe if you want to live up to your full potential.”