Born 30 October 1939, Detroit, Michigan
Eddie Holland was part of the songwriting and production team Holland / Dozier / Holland, with his brother Brian Holland (born 15 February 1941) and Lamont Dozier (born 16 June 1941), all from Detroit. Eddie was active in the Detroit music scene from the mid-50s onwards, leading the Fidelatones vocal group, and producing demo recordings for Jackie Wilson. In 1958, he met Berry Gordy, who produced a series of solo singles for Holland on Mercury Records and United Artists Records. Gordy signed Holland to his fledgling Motown Records concern in 1961, and was rewarded when Holland's "Jamie" became a hit (# 6 R&B, # 30 pop) in early 1962. Sung in a whining falsetto, "Jamie" owed a lot to the style of Jackie Wilson. The disc got a UK release on Fontana and that's when I first heard the name of Eddie Holland. I remember that I liked it at the time, but haven't heard it since. Holland achieved three further chart successes in 1964, among them "Leaving Here", which proved popular among British R&B bands. That year he also helped to inaugurate the Holland / Dozier / Holland partner- ship, Motown's most successful writing and production team of all time. Working mostly as the trio's lyricist, Holland was involved in a chain of hits, including twelve number ones (10 for the Supremes and two for the Four Tops). But I must add that, although Eddie co-wrote all the hits by the Supremes (at least until early 1968), the production was done by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier, without Eddie. He was involved though in the production / writing for several other Motown acts, such as The Four Tops (Baby I Need Your Lovin', I Can't Help Myself, It's the Same Old Song, Reach Out I'll Be There, Bernadette, a.o.), Martha and the Vandellas (Heat Wave, Quicksand, etc.), The Isley Brothers (This Old Heart of Mine) and Marvin Gaye (Can I Get a Witness, How Sweet It Is). Eddie also collaborated with writer/producer Norman Whitfield on a series of singles by the Temptations, notably "I'm Losing You" and "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep". The same pairing evolved "He Was Really Saying Something" and "Needle In A Haystack" for the Velvelettes, while Holland also co-wrote Shorty Long's dancefloor classic, "Function At The Junction".
Holland / Dozier / Holland created the sound of an era (1962-68). Their songs are classics, covered countless times. But they had to fight with Berry Gordy for their royalties. They parted acrimoniously and formed their own labels Invictus and Hot Wax in 1968. The new labels had hits with The Chairmen of the Board (featuring General Norman Johnson, formerly of the Showmen, of "It Will Stand" fame), Freda Payne (whose "Band of Gold" topped the UK charts for six weeks in 1970) and the Honey Cone (featuring Edna Wright, Darlene Love's younger sister). Lamont Dozier went solo in 1972 (first on Invictus, then ABC) and scored several Top 10 R&B hits as a singer, some of which crossed over to the pop charts. The H-D-H trio made it up with Motown in 1983, returning with the Four Tops to produce them there again, though this time with considerably less success.
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