Soul Serenade

The MoonglowsHarvey Fuqua died on Tuesday. He was 80 years-old. Fuqua was from Louisville, KY, where in 1951 he founded a group called the Crazy Sounds. After the members of the group moved to Cleveland, they were taken under the wing of the legendary DJ Alan Freed, who renamed them the Moonglows.

In 1954 they had a huge hit for Chess Records with a song called “Sincerely”. The single made it to #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, and #20 on the Hot 100. Tired of sharing the lead vocals with Bobby Lester, Fuqua basically fired the entire group in 1957, replacing them with a group called the Marquees, whose members included Marvin Gaye. Just to make sure that everyone understood who was in charge, Fuqua called the new group Harvey and the Moonglows. Despite continued success, Fuqua left the group in 1958. The Moonglows reunited briefly in 1972, and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

After leaving the Moonglows, Fuqua went to work at Anna records where he worked with the label’s namesake, Anna Gordy. That meeting enabled him to introduce Marvin Gaye to Anna’s brother, Motown founder Berry Gordy. The rest of course is history. Later Fuqua became head of Artist Development at Motown, and brought the Spinners, Johnny Bristol, and Tammi Terrell to the label. He co-produced several hits for Bristol, and put together the dream duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, producing massive hits like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” for them.

After leaving Motown in 1971, Fuqua signed on with RCA, where he produced disco hits for Sylvester, and the Weather Girls. In 1982, Fuqua reunited with Marvin Gaye to produce his monumental comeback album Midnight Love, which spawned the hit single “Sexual Healing.” The single was #1 for ten straight weeks on Billboard’s Hot Black Singles chart, and hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January, 1983.

A long and distinguished career in music ended when Harvey Fuqua died on Tuesday. All I keep thinking is that we lose more and more of the original soul pioneers every year, and there is simply no way to replace them.