In 1964: Katherine Anderson, Juanita Cowart, Gladys Horton, Wanda Young (Rogers) and Georgeanna Tillman (Gordon)
The Marvelettes were formed in the late 50's by five students at Inkster High School in Michigan, U.S.A.
The Marvelettes line-up featured (at various times between 1960 and 1972):
Gladys Catherine Horton (b. 30th May 1944, Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A., d. 26th January 2011, Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.A.)
Georgeanna Marie Tillman (b. 5th February 1944, Inkster, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 6th January 1980, U.S.A.)
Wanda Young Rogers (b. Wanda LaFaye Rogers a.k.a. Wanda Young-Rogers, 9th August 1943, Inkster, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 16th December 2021, U.S.A.)
Katherine Elaine Anderson Schaffner (b. 16th January 1944, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 20th September 2023, Corewell Health Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.A.)
Wyanttea (Juanita) Cowart
The Marvelettes were one of the finest all female groups to feature on the Tamla Motown label during the Sixties.
'Please Mr. Postman' has been covered by many artists, with, probably, the best remembered version by the Beatles on their 'With The Beatles' album, which featured mainly cover versions of the songs around at that time.
At the outset, Gladys Horton and Georgia Dobbins formed the group the Casinyets (play on words, 'Can't Sing Yets') in Inkster, Michigan (Inkster is a suburb of Detroit).
The group featured Georgeanna Tillman, Juanita Cowart, and Katherine Anderson on backing vocals.
The group changed their name to The Del-Rhythmetts in 1958, (whose line-up featured Gladys Horton, Jeanette McClafin, Juanita McClafin and Rosemary Wells).
Signing to the JVB (Joe Von Battle owned) imprint, the group released the 45 'Chic-A-Boomer' b/w 'I Need Your Love' that year.
Two years later saw another name change, this time to the 'Marvels' (featuring five vocalists, namely, Gladys Horton, Georgeanna Marie Tillman, Wanda Young, Katherine Anderson and Juanita Cowart.
They attended Inkster High School, entering talent shows within the facility, one of which saw them coming in in fourth place.
Although only three were supposed to win the audition prize at Motown Records, the girls were allowed to enter additionally.
A further audition was scheduled, and Georgia recruited the keyboards player William Garrett, who suggested the group sing an unfinished song called 'Please Mr. Postman'.
The pair worked on the song, and returned to Motown, after further recruiting the singer Wanda Young to their growing ranks.
Motown signed the group, renaming them 'the Marvelettes', releasing 'Please Mr Postman' b/w 'So Long Baby' in 1961.
The song reached number one on the Pop Charts, and charted in the same position on the Billboard charts, where it remained for nearly two months.
please mr postman - 1961 / the marvelettes sing - 1962 / playboy - 1962 / marvelous marvelettes - 1963
A parent album was released to capitalise on the singles success, however, the album did not make the charts.
Motown released a follow up 'Postman' based 45, entitled 'Twistin' Postman' b/w 'I Want A Guy' in 1962, which reached number 34 on the Pop Chart (number 13 R&B).
The group began a touring schedule, releasing a second album 'The Marvelettes Sing (a.k.a. Smash Hits of '62)' , which featured several cover versions of contemporary songs.
The 45's 'Playboy' b/w 'All The Love I've Got' reached number 4 R&B and number 7 Pop), which was followed by 'Beechwood 4-5789' b/w 'Someday, Someway' (number 7 R&B, number 17 Pop) and 'Strange I Know' b/w 'Too Strong To Be Strung Along' (number 10 R&B, number 49 Pop).
Group member Juanita Cowart began suffering from depression, which led to her departing the group.
A fourth album was released entitled 'The Marvelous Marvelettes'', which featured 'Forever' b/w 'Locking Up My Heart' in 1963, which reached number 25 R&B and number 44 Pop.
Other singles included 'Tie A String Around My Finger' b/w 'My Daddy Knows Best' which reached number 67 Pop.
They turned down the opportunity to record 'Where Did Our Love Go', opting for the Whitfield/Holland composition 'Too Many Fish in the Sea' b/w 'A Need For Love'.
Whilst the song was successful, 'Where Did Our Love Go' hit the number one spot for the Supremes on both the R&B and Pop charts.
In 1965 Marie Tillman And Juanita Cowart departed the group, whilst Georgeanna Tillman was battling the debilitating illness, lupus.
She was forced to leave the group as a result, but remained at Motown in a secretarial role, marrying Billy Gordon (of the Contours).
Georgeanna died in 1980 from the complications of sickle-cell anemia, leaving the Marvelettes as a threesome.
The Marvelettes continued to release singles (including 'I'll Keep Holding On' b/w 'No Time For Tears' in 1965 - number 34 Pop and number 11 R&B, 'Danger, Heartbreak Dead Ahead' b/w 'Your Cheating Ways' in 1965 - number 61 Pop and number 11 R&B, and the Smokey Robinson penned, 'Don't Mess With Bill' b/w 'Anything You Wanna Do').
the marvelettes on stage - 1963 / the marvelettes greatest hits - 1966 / the marvelettes - 1967 / sophisticated soul - 1968
They also released a live album 'The Marvelettes Recorded Live On Stage', and released a greatest hits album.
Smokey Robinson also worked with the group on their album 'The Marvelettes (Pink Album)', which was released in 1967.
The album featured the hit 'The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game' b/w 'I Think I Can Change You' which reached number 2 R&B and number 13 Pop.
A follow up song featured a reworking of the Ruby & the Romantics song, 'When You're Young and in Love' b/w 'The Day You Take One, You Have To Take The Other', penned by Van McCoy, (reaching number 9 R&B and number 23 Pop).
In 1967, Gladys Horton left the group to get married and was replaced by Anne Bogan.
They released an eighth album in 1968, entitled 'Sophisticated Soul', which featured Wanda Young taking lead vocal chores.
Several 45's were released from the album, including 'You're The One' b/w 'Paper Boy' (number 20 R&B, number 48 Pop), 'My Baby Must Be a Magician' b/w 'I Need Someone' (number 8 R&B, number 17 Pop, featuring Melvin Franklin of the Temptations), the Ashford and Simpson penned 'Destination: Anywhere' b/w 'What's So Easy For Two Is So Hard For One' (number 28 R&B, number 63 Pop), and 'Here I Am Baby' b/w 'Keep Off, No Trespassing' (number 14 R&B, number 44 Pop).
in full bloom - 1969 / the return of the marvelettes - 1970
In 1969, a further album (their ninth) entitled 'In Full Bloom' was released, which saw only one single release, a reworking of Justine Washington's 'That's How Heartaches Are Made', b/w 'Rainy Mourning' (reaching number 97 Pop).
By this time, the group were fragmenting, with Wanda coping with personal issues, however, Motown felt there may have been some mileage in furthering her career as a solo performer, enlisting her for a time as the lead singer in the group the Andantes.
Motown released the album under the title of 'The Return Of The Marvelettes', however, Wanda was about to give birth, coupled with a lack of publicity and Motown's relocation to Los Angeles, the album did not fare well.
Two singles were released at the start of the Seventies from the album, namely 'Marionette' b/w 'After All' in 1970, and 'A Breath Taking Guy' b/w 'You're The One For Me Baby' in 1972 .
Anne Bogan later joined the group Love, Peace & Happiness which later became the group New Birth.
There were several Marvelettes 'imitator' ensembles during the following years, which resulted in legislation enabling Gladys Horton to be the sole owner of the groups performing name.
In 2006 she made an appearance with two background singers on a Motown revue show, but sadly passed away in 2011.
Georgeanna Tillman passed way from complications of lupus in 1980.
now! - 1990
An album, recorded on Ian Levine's Motorcity imprint, was released in 1990, entitled 'Marvelettes Now'.
Wanda Young Rogers, sadly, passed away in 2021.
Juanita Cowart and Ann Bogan have all retired from the music business.
In 2007, the Marvelettes were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.
Katherine Anderson died at Corewell Health Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.A. in September 2023.
Please Mr. Postman (Tamla Records 1961)
The Marvelettes Sing Smash Hits Of 1962 (Tamla Records 1962)
Playboy (Tamla Records 1962)
The Marvelous Marvelettes (Tamla Records 1963)
Recorded Live: On Stage (TamIa Records 1963)
Marvellettes Greatest Hits (TamIa Records 1966)
The Marvelettes (Tamla Records 1967)
Sophisticated Soul (Tamla Records 1968)
In Full Bloom (Motown Records 1969)
The Return Of The Marvelettes (Motown Records 1970)
Marvellettes Now (Motor City Records 1990)