Iconic Motown Songwriter Lamont Dozier Dies at 81

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

One of the primary songwriters behind a number of Motown hits, Lamont Dozier, has died at 81. The news was confirmed by his son, Lamont Dozier Jr., who wrote on Instagram, “Rest in Heavenly Peace, Dad!” A cause of death has not yet been announced.

Dozier wrote for iconic artists in the Detriot scene, including the Supremes, the Four Tops, and the Isley Brothers. Before he began his lauded career as a songwriter though, he got his start singing in various local doo-wop groups like the Romeos and the Voicemasters.

In 1962, he signed to Berry Gordy’s burgeoning Motown records as an artist, producer, and songwriter. Soon after he found himself working with brothers Brian and Eddie Holland. The trio, which later became known as Holland-Dozier-Holland, went on to find generation-defining success.

He scored his first Top 10 hit with Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heat Wave” and “Quicksand” as well as the Miracles’ “Mickey’s Monkey.” While Eddie Holland was the primary lyricist of the trio, Dozier and Brian Holland served as the team’s main producers. They also worked closely with Motown’s house band, the Funk Brothers.

Within a year, the team partnered with the Supremes to craft three iconic No. 1 singles for the girl group, “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love” and “Come See About Me.”

H-D-H scored seven more No. 1 hist with the Supremes, bringing their total with the group to 10 in the brief period between 1964 and 1967. Meanwhile, the trio was producing timeless hits for other Motown staples, like Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and the Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There.”

Dozier returned to the top of the charts again in the late ’80s when he partnered with Phil Collins to co-write and produce, “Two Hearts,” which appeared on the soundtrack for the film Buster. The song went on to clinch an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song and a Golden Globe win alongside his first Grammy Win.

In 1988, Holland-Dozier-Holland was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, while two years later they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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