The Marvelettes were an all-girl singing group that formed in 1960 in Inkster High School in the Detroit suburb of Inkster, MI (they first sang together in the school’s glee club). The original members were Gladys Horton, Juanita Cowart, Georgia Dobbins (who was replaced by Wanda Young before they signed their first record contract), Georganne Tillman and Katherine Anderson.
In 1961 the group, after several name changes, settled on The Marvels. They entered a local talent contest in which the first three prizes were auditions for Motown Records. Although they came in fourth, a couple of their schoolteachers convinced Motown executives to allow them to audition, too. The audition went so well they were asked to return for another audition, this time with label owner Gordy. Impressed with their talent, Gordy nevertheless advised them to return again for another audition but this time with a composition of their own.
Georgia Dobbins knew a local musician named William Garrett, who had an unfinished blues song he called “Please Mr. Postman”, and he allowed Dobbins to take it home and reshape it to a more “doo-wop” type of song that would be more palatable to the teens of the day. Whem the girls returned for the audition–minus Dobbins, who had by this time left the group–Gordy agreed to sign them but wanted their name changed, and he renamed them The Marvelettes and signed them to his Tamla Records label.
They recorded “Please Mr. Postman”, which upon release shot to the #1 shot on the Billbord Hot 100 chart–the first Motown act to do so. The next year they had another hit, “Playboy”–written by group member Gladys Horton–which hit the Hot 100 chart at #7. That was soon followed by another hit, “Beechwood 4-5789”; the song also became a double-sided hit when some R&B stations played its flip side, “Someway Someway”, and it hit #8 on the R&B charts.
In order to tour and record, the girls–who were still in high school–had to quit school. In 1963 Juanita Cowart left the group, and they didn’t replace her. In 1964 Georgeanna Tillman married singer Billy Gordon of The Contours and Wanda Young married Bobby Rogers of The Miracles. In 1964 TGillman, who had been suffering from sickle cell anemia, was diagnosed with lupus. Her doctor recommended that she leave the group to avoid the stress of touring and recording, and that’s what she did. The Marvelettes did not replace her, either, and stayed together as a trio.
Over the next few years they had a few hits, but more misses. In 1967 Gladys Horton left the group to devote her time to her newborn son, who had been born with cerebral palsy. Singer Ann Bogan was brought in to replace her, After recording the album “The Return of the Marvelettes” in 1970, which was just a modest hit, the group disbanded. Biography info.