Saturday, December 11, 2021

Today in Music (1961): Motown achieved its first #1

Please Mr. Postman

The Marvelettes

Writer(s): Brian Holland, Robert Bateman, William Garrett, Georgia Dobbins, Freddie Gorman (see lyrics here)

Released: August 21, 1961

First Charted: September 4, 1961

Peak: 11 US, 2 CB, 2 HR, 17 RB (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 75.7 video, 180.99 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Not only was “Please Mr. Postman” the debut single for the Marvelettes, but it was the first Motown song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song took a then-record fifteen weeks to reach the summit. FB It also topped the R&B charts. The Beatles notably covered the song for their 1963 album With the Beatles and the Carpenters took the song back to the top of the pop charts in 1975.

The group, originally called the Casinyets, formed in high school. In 1961, they entered the school’s talent show knowing the winner would get an audition with Motown. They came in fourth, but their teacher, Mrs. Sharpley, pushed for the group to also go to the audition. Motown was impressed, but wanted original material. FB

Member Georgia Dobbins turned to her friend William Garrett. He gave her a blues song which she reworked for the group. Sadly, Dobbins had to drop out of the group to care for her sick mother so the final version of the song featured Gladys Horton on lead. The song and group underwent still more changes when Motown chief Berry Gordy renamed the group and brought in songwriters Brian Holland and Robert Bateman to rework the song again. WK The final rendition featured Motown’s legendary studio team the Funk Brothers.

The song wasn’t just the launch of Motown, but a quintessential slice of the girl group sound with “frothy harmonies, Horton’s gritty lead, a nifty blues piano, and some remarkably funky drumming by the young Marvin Gaye.” DM


First posted 12/11/2011; last updated 1/20/2024.

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