There is no question that Lamont Dozier is best known as part of the Motown production/songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. Along with Brian and Eddie Holland, Dozier was responsible for writing 14 #1 hits. Very few songwriters can lay claim that that kind of success. Dozier’s career as a performer is somewhat less celebrated, but it certainly had its moments.
Dozier actually started as a performer in Detroit appearing with groups like the Romeos, the Voice Masters, and under the name La Mont Anthony. The groups recorded for labels like Fox, Anna, Frisco, and Checkmate, without much success. In 1962, Dozier finally released a single under his own name, but like the releases that came before it, “Dearest One” (Mel-o-dy Records) didn’t chart.
Success was in the cards though, when Dozier joined the Holland brothers in 1962. Their first success came with the Martha & the Vandellas hits “Come and Get These Memories,” “Heatwave,” and “Quicksand” in 1963. The following year, the team had their first success with the Supremes when “Where Did Our Love Go” became the first of the ten #1 hits that Holland-Dozier-Holland had with the Supremes.
In 1968, a profit-sharing and royalty dispute with Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. led to Holland-Dozier-Holland leaving the label. The hitmakers founded their own labels Hot Wax Records and Invictus Records, which had some success. The legal battle with Gordy continued into the ’70s, and the contractual logjam prevented the team from using their own names on songs that they wrote, often crediting them to Wayne-Dunbar.
Probably tiring of the ongoing battle, Dozier left his partners in 1973 to resume his solo career as a performer. He recorded a number of albums on his own, and had a hit with the socially-conscious “Fish Ain’t Bitin,” in 1974. The song’s message was directed at the issues of the day including Watergate, and gas-rationing, but more than that, it got people up on the dance floor in the early days of disco.
Dozier scored again in 1974 with “Tryin’ to Hold On to My Woman” (#4 on the R&B chart, #15 on the Pop chart), and hit the charts again the following year with “All Cried Out.” In 1981 there was the beach music hit “Cool Me Out.” The Dozier hit parade as a songwriter continued through the ’80s with songs like “Two Hearts,” (from the film Buster) co-written by Phil Collins. The song won a Golden Globe, and a Grammy Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award. One of my favorite Dozier songs of all-time was the 1984 hit “Invisible,” written for the English soul singer Alison Moyet. Later in the decade, Dozier teamed up with Mick Hucknall of Simply Red to write songs like “Infidelity,” “Suffer,” “You’ve Got It,” and “Turn it Up” for the band.
Dozier finally looked back at his Motown catalog in 2004 with an album called Reflections Of Lamont Dozier which featured new arrangements of 12 classic songs from the Motown era, including “Where Did Our Love Go,” “This Old Heart of Mine,” “Baby I Need Your Loving,” and “How Sweet it Is (To Be Loved by You).”
Lamont Dozier was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with Eddie and Brian Holland in 1990. These days he lives in California with his wife of 30 years. The couple have three children.