Monday, June 17, 2024

Gladys Horton, RIP: Sang Motown’s First#1 Hit “Please Mr. Postman”


Gladys Horton, lead singer of what was really Motown’s original group, the Marvelettes, died yesterday. She was 66. Among the hit records she sangĀ  on: “Please Mr. Postman,” “Beachwood 4-5789,” “Don’t Mess with Bill,” “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game,” and so many more.

Horton was 15 when she and her high school friends, whom she’d dubbed “The Marvelettes,” had Motown’s first #1 hit in 1961. “Please Mr. Postman” was later covered by the Beatles, and in 1975, the Carpenters, each of whom had memorable recordings. But the original is the best.

I think the most shocking thing about Horton’s death is her age. Why is it that so few Motown artists have lived into their late 60s? It’s almost like a curse. Whether it was drugs or disease, the Motown label has the worst mortality rate in music history. Marvin Gaye, Florence Ballard, Mary Wells, Levi Stubbs, nearly all of the Temptations and Four Tops, Tammi Terrell, Michael Jackson– none of them have lived into old age.

But we do still have Stevie, Smokey, Diana, Mary Wilson, Gladys and Bubba Knight, and the Miracles.

Rest in peace, Gladys. (She’s on the right in this 1966 photo.)

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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