Home Music Harvey Fuqua, the Man Behind Motown, Dies at 80

I am heartbroken to report that Harvey Fuqua has died of a heart attack at age 80.

A splendid person, a real gentleman, and just a good guy, Harvey was the man behind Motown. He was first the leader of the Moonglows in the 1950s, and wrote the hit “Sincerely.” But then he went to work for Berry Gordy at Motown.

Fuqua’s jobs were myriad–writing, producing, and teaching the Motown acts how to behave in public. His best pal was Marvin Gaye, whose records he produced. Both he and Marvin wound up marrying Gordy’s sisters, respectively, Gwen and Anna. Harvey also worked on dozens of other Motown hits, including many with Johnny Bristol including his classic “Hang On In There Baby.”

Harvey’s place in R&B history cannot be overstated. The fact that it took so long to get him into the Rock and Roll Hall of (Shame) Fame is a…shame. But he was a trustee of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in its heyday. A big man, with a rolling gate, and penchant for golf, he didn’t pull punches.

A few years ago I was in the ticketing office of the R&B Foundation’s Pioneer Awards with him. Someone called from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame demanding tickets–and good ones– to the Pioneer Awards. Said Harvey: “Let them sit in the back, where they put us for their show.”

And that’s what happened.

Harvey, you will be missed, missed, missed. God speed. I mean it, “Sincerely.”

4 replies to this post
  1. After his pioneering doo-wop records with the Moonglows, he was the key A&R guy for Motown and discovered and signed Marvin Gaye. He wrote hits for Motown, produced Gaye’s best music. and then, creatively indefatigable, went on to produce the seminal disco records by Sylvester. When not traveling and golfing with Smokey Robinson in the last years, he was producing rap and other new music.
    His goodness was as big as he was. The year he was inducted in the Hall of Fame, the NYTimes didn’t even mention him. Real artists, he proved, just keep creating without needing attention.

  2. Thanks so much Roger for giving Mr. Fuqua his due. Huffington Post couldn’t find space for him. Too busy worry about Lindsay Lohan’s fingernails and drug tests. Where would entertainment journalism be without you? It seems to have deteriorated into stories about the size of Kim Kardashian’s behind and Kate Gosselin’s breasts.

    Talented folks like Mr. Fuqua get short shrift.

    So thanks again for being a true journalist.

    Monica Haynes aka The Talk Diva

  3. I have great admiration for Harvey Fuqua and what he did for the industry, but to say that he was “The Man Behind Motown” is overstating his legacy and doesn’t give credit to people like Barry Gordy and Smokey Robinson.

    Also, Johnny Bristol’s Hang on in There Baby was recorded after both Fuqua and Bristol had left Motown. The song was released on Polydor Records.

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