R.I.P. Lamont Dozier of Motown’s Holland-Dozier-Holland

Dozier in the center, sandwiched by Hollands

Lamont Dozier (1941-2022) had the bad luck to pass away on the same day as another music business legend, Olivia Newton-John, and as a result the news of his death was eclipsed (not unlike when Groucho died on the same day as Elvis). But we feel the need to redress the societal slight, because truth to tell, and I do not exaggerate, Dozier and his songwriting partners Brian and Eddie Holland (born 1941 and 1939 respectively) arguably had a much greater impact on American culture than Newton-John. When I saw the headlines, my mind jumped to the only association with the surname I had in my head, and that’s the credits on record jackets: Holland-Dozier-Holland. I am going to list the hit songs they wrote for Motown (often covered by English Invasion bands and others) and you’ll see what I mean by their impact (some of them were written under pseudonyms, or with other collaborators):

“Heat Wave” (1963): Martha and the Vandellas, Linda Rondstadt

“Can I Get a Witness” (1963): Marvin Gaye, The Rolling Stones

“Where Did Our Love Go?” (1964): The Supremes

“Baby I Need Your Loving” (1964): The Four Tops

“Baby Love” (1964): The Supremes

“Come See About Me” (1964): The Supremes

“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” (1964): Marvin Gaye

“Stop! In the Name of Love” (1965): The Supremes

“Nowhere to Run” (1965): Martha and the Vandellas

“Back in My Arms Again” (1965): The Supremes

“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” (1965): The Four Tops

“It’s the Same Old Song” (1965): The Four Tops

“I Hear a Symphony” (1965): The Supremes

“Reach Out I’ll Be There” (1966): The Four Tops

“You Keep Me Hanging On” (1966): The Supremes

“Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone” (1967): The Supremes

“Jimmy Mack” (1967): Martha and the Vandellas

“Bernadette” (1967): The Four Tops

“The Happening” (1967): The Supremes

“Reflections” (1967): The Supremes

“Give Me Just a Little More Time” (1970): Chairmen of the Board

“Band of Gold” (1970): Freda Payne

And this is only some of them. I can’t even read the titles without hearing the songs. Anyway, it’s not a pissing contest, but people this important to American culture need to stop being anonymous. Given that the artists who first sang their songs were also people of color and their names are known, it’s not strictly about race. Songwriters tend to be unsung heroes, though I might point out that people tend to know the names of Lieber and Stoller and Gerry Goffin and Carole King

In addition to co-writing all those hits, Dozier was also a recording artist and producer himself. If his legacy has meant anything to you at all, please tell someone about him today. And if you already beat me to it — thank you!