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Fuqua in 2000
July 27, 1929|
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
July 6, 2010 (aged 80)|
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, record producer, record label executive|
Fuqua founded the seminal R&B/doo-wop group the Moonglows in the 1950s. He is notable as one of the key figures in the development of the Motown label in Detroit, Michigan. His group gave Marvin Gaye a start in his music career. Fuqua and his wife at the time, Gwen Gordy, distributed the first Motown hit single, Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)", on their record label, Anna Records. Fuqua later sold Anna Records to Gwen's brother Berry Gordy and became a songwriter and executive at Motown. He was the nephew of Charlie Fuqua of the Ink Spots and the uncle of the filmmaker Antoine Fuqua.
Fuqua was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the nephew of Charlie Fuqua of the Ink Spots. In 1951, with Bobby Lester, Alexander Graves and Prentiss Barnes, he formed a vocal group, the Crazy Sounds, in Louisville, later moving with other members of the group to Cleveland, Ohio. There they were taken under the wing of disc jockey Alan Freed, who renamed them the Moonglows, after his own nickname, Moondog". The Moonglows' first releases were for Freed's Champagne label in 1953. They then recorded for the Chance label in Chicago, before signing with Chess Records in 1954. Their single "Sincerely" reached number 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and number 20 on the Hot 100 in late 1954.
Recording for Chess Records, Fuqua initially shared lead vocals with Lester but eventually asserted himself as the leader of the group. This changed in 1957 when he, in effect, fired the other members and installed a new group, previously known as the Marquees, which included Marvin Gaye. The new group, billed as Harvey and the Moonglows, had immediate success with "Ten Commandments of Love" (number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100). Fuqua left the group in 1958.
Fuqua left the Moonglows when Leonard Chess suggested that he join Anna Records in Detroit. At Anna Records, Fuqua began working with Anna Gordy, Billy Davis, Lamont Dozier and Johnny Bristol. He also introduced Marvin Gaye to Anna's brother, Berry Gordy, and married their sister Gwen Gordy. In 1961, he started his own labels, Tri-Phi Records and Harvey Records, whose acts included the Spinners, Junior Walker and Shorty Long. However, tiring of running a small independent label, Fuqua welcomed the opportunity to work at Motown; he was hired to head the label's Artist Development department and also worked as a producer for the company. Fuqua brought the Spinners and Johnny Bristol to Motown and co-produced several hits for Bristol. He was also responsible for bringing Tammi Terrell to the label and for suggesting and producing her duets with Marvin Gaye, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Your Precious Love". In 1962, with the Five Quails, Fuqua had a minor hit with "Been a Long Time".
Around 1971, Fuqua left Motown and obtained a production deal with RCA Records, for which he had particular success with the band New Birth. He also discovered the disco pioneer Sylvester and "Two Tons o' Fun" (also known as the Weather Girls), producing Sylvester's hit singles "Dance (Disco Heat)" and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" in 1978 and his album Stars in 1979. He also served as Smokey Robinson's road manager. In 1982 he reunited with Marvin Gaye to produce the singer's Midnight Love album, which included the single "Sexual Healing". In 2000 he set up his own record company, Resurging Artist Records. He served as a trustee of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Fuqua co-wrote one of the most famous disco instrumentals, "K-Jee", recorded originally by The Nite-liters, an offshoot of New Birth, and then Philadelphia session musicians, MFSB for the movie Saturday Night Fever.
Solo singles discography
|Year||A-side||B-side||Label and number||Notes|
|1959||"I Want Somebody"||"Da Da Goo Goo"||Chess 1713|
|1959||"Twelve Months of the Year"||"Don't Be Afraid of Love"||Chess 1725|
|1960||"Blue Skies"||"Ooh, Ouch, Stop"||Chess 1748|
|1960||"If I Can't Have You"||"My Heart Cries"||Chess 1760||Duet with Etta James|
|1960||"Spoonful"||"It's a Cryin' Shame"||Chess 1771||Duet with Etta James|
|1961||"The First Time"||"Mama"||Chess 1781|
|1962||"What Can You Do Now"||"Will I Do"||Harvey 121||Duet with Ann Bogan|
|1962||"Any Way You Wanta"||"She Loves Me So"||Tri-Phi 1017|
|1963||"Memories of You"||"Come On and Answer Me"||Tri-Phi 1024|
In March 1995, Fuqua and with his wife, Carolyne, incorporated the Foundation for the S.T.A.R.S., a nonprofit organization that reaches out to address some of the difficulties to underprivileged youth in the inner cities of America, with the belief that every dream should have the opportunity to be realized.
In November 1982, disco star Sylvester filed a lawsuit against Fuqua and Fantasy Records, which led to a judgment that the company had been withholding money from him, in the amount of $218,112.50. Fuqua was unable to pay more than $20,000, so that Sylvester never received most of the money that was legally owed to him.
- Cromelin, Richard. "Harvey Fuqua Dies at 80; Singer, Songwriter, Producer and Record Executive". Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2010.
- Williams, Richard. "Harvey Fuqua Obituary". The Guardian, July 11, 2010.
- Hogan, Ed. "Biography: Harvey Fuqua". AMG. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
- O'Donnell, Kevin. "Motown Legend Harvey Fuqua Dead at 80". Rolling Stone, July 7, 2010.
- McArdle, Terence. "Harvey Fuqua, Singer in Doo-Wop Band the Moonglows, Dies at 80". Washington Post, July 8, 2010.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 222.
- Obituary, Miami Herald.