158: “Please Mr. Postman” goes to No. 1 for Motown

The Marvelettes in a 1963 promotional photo, from left, Gladys Horton, Wanda Young, Georgeanna Tillman and Katherine Anderson.

The Marvelettes in a 1963 promotional photo, from left, Gladys Horton, Wanda Young, Georgeanna Tillman and Katherine Anderson.

Today is the 54th anniversary of the first No. 1 hit for Motown Records, “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes.

Here are some things you may not have known about Motown and the Marvelettes.

Motown was founded by Barry Gordy in 1959 in Detroit  and was originally known as Tamla Records. The first release was a song called “Come to Me” by Marv Johnson. In 1959, “Money (That’s What I Want)” by Barrett Strong hit No. 2 on the Billboard R&B charts. Motown’s first superstar group was the Miracles, with lead singer Smokey Robinson.

Motown’s roster grew to include many of the major American popular musical acts of the 1960s. To name a few: The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells and Stevie Wonder.

The Marvelettes were from Inkster, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. They formed in 1960 after performing in a high school glee club and signed with Tamla Records a year later. A year after “Please Mr. Postman” hit No. 1, the group had a No. 17 hit with “Beechwood 4-5789.” In 1966 they had their final hit with “Don’t Mess With Bill.”

Our question, What was Motown’s Detroit headquarters known as?

Today is also: Youth Day and King Mohammed VI’s Birthday in Morocco and Ninoy Aquino Day in the Philippines. In the United States it is unofficially National Senior Citizens’ Day and National Spumoni Day. It’s the birthday of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, sprinter Usain Bolt, and musicians Kenny Rogers, Count Basie and Joe Strummer.

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