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2013 BMI Pop Awards

Source: Chelsea Lauren / Getty

Lamont Dozier, one-third of the legendary songwriting Holland-Dozier-Holland trio responsible for crafting the signature “Motown Sound” that dominated the airwaves in the 1960s and 1970s, has passed away at the age of 81.

News of the songwriter’s passing was reported on Tuesday (August 9th). Dozier passed away at his residence near Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday. His death was confirmed by Robin Terry, the chairwoman, and chief executive of the Motown Museum in Detroit, Michigan. No cause of his death was given by Ms. Terry. Dozier’s son, singer Lamont Dozier Jr, shared a photo of himself with his father with the caption, “Rest in Heavenly Peace, Dad!”

Born in Detroit on June 16th, 1941 as the oldest of five children, Dozier was drawn to the world of music from the age of 5 when he went to a concert featuring Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Count Basie. He strode into music fully in high school, forming an interracial doo-wop group known as the Romeos. After the group disbanded, he wound up catching the attention of a label founded by Anna and Gwen Gordy – sisters to the iconic Berry Gordy Jr. After that label folded in 1961, he went to work for the new Motown label and teamed up with songwriter Brian Holland. Holland’s older brother Eddie would join them shortly after, and from that point, the trio would be the fuel behind Motown’s distinct and legendary sound.

“Brian was all music, Eddie was all lyrics, and I was the idea man who bridged both.”, Dozier wrote in his 2019 memoir. The Holland-Dozier-Holland trio would be responsible for 80 singles that made the Top 40 pop and R&B charts, with 15 songs becoming number one. These included “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Baby Love” by The Supremes, “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” and “I Can’t Help Myself [Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch]” by The Four Tops as well as singles for The Isley Brothers and Marvin Gaye.

The trio would leave Motown over financial differences in 1967, forming two labels – Invictus Records and Hot Wax Records, which produced hits for Chairmen of The Board, Freda Payne and Honey Cone. Dozier would venture out on his own in 1973, writing for film and television which included the theme for the ABC sitcom That’s My Mama ,and collaborating with Phil Collins on “Two Hearts” in 1989. He would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Holland brothers in 1990.

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