The co-founder of the Motown girl group The Marvelettes, Gladys Horton has died. She was 66.
Her son, Vaughn Thorton said she died Wednesday night at a Sherman Oaks nursing home. She had been recovering from a stroke she had recently suffered.
Horton grew up in Inkster, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. She and a group of friends formed a singing group they called The Casinyets, short for “can’t sing yet”.
The girls entered a talent show at their high school and came in fourth. Only the first three winners were to get an audition with Berry Gordy and a chance at a record deal. An exception was made and the group auditioned it front of Gordy and Smokey Robinson.
Robinson was impressed and scheduled a second audition after asking if they had any original material. The girls arrived at the next audition with a brand new song co-written by Georgia Dobbins and pianist William Garrett. That song was Please Mr. Postman.
Horton became lead singer when Georgia Dobbins left the group. At that time they changed the name to The Marvelettes. Motown released Please Mr. Postman in 1961. Horton was 15 at the time.
The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on Dec. 16, 1961 and was the first for Motown Records.
The group went on to chart 23 Hot 100 hits. Playboy and Don’t mess with Bill both hit number 7, while Beachwood 4-5789 hit number 17 on the charts.