Stubborn Kind of Fellow

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"Stubborn Kind of Fellow"
Single by Marvin Gaye
from the album That Stubborn Kinda Fellow
B-side"It Hurts Me Too"
ReleasedJuly 23, 1962
Format7" single
RecordedHitsville USA, Detroit, Michigan, June 29, 1962
T 54068
Songwriter(s)Marvin Gaye
William "Mickey" Stevenson
George Gordy
Producer(s)William "Mickey" Stevenson
Marvin Gaye singles chronology
"Soldier's Plea"
"Stubborn Kind of Fellow"
"Hitch Hike"

"Stubborn Kind of Fellow" is a 1962 song recorded by Marvin Gaye for the Tamla label. Co-written by Gaye and produced by William "Mickey" Stevenson, "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" became Gaye's first hit single, reaching the top ten of the R&B chart and the top fifty of the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1962.


By summer 1962, Marvin Gaye had recorded for Tamla Records, a subsidiary of Motown Enterprises, for a year with limited success. The previous summer, Gaye released his first LP, The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye, an album of jazz and pop standards that failed to crack the charts. He had also released a total of three singles, all of which also failed to enter the Billboard charts. According to some within the label, he was considered "the least likely hit maker".[1] During 1961, Gaye had spent time on the road as a drummer for fellow Tamla act, The Miracles, and had also drummed for blues artist Jimmy Reed, earning $5 weekly. In early 1962, Gaye scored his first major success as a songwriter, composing music with producer Mickey Stevenson and George Gordy on The Marvelettes' top 40 hit, "Beechwood 4-5789".

Though he had initially wanted to avoid the rhythm and blues market, Gaye figured it was his only way to establish himself as a crossover pop act, and reluctantly agreed to record a song in that style.[1] Hiring Stevenson and Gordy, Gaye wrote and composed a song that fit his sometimes moody attitude, titling it "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" after Berry Gordy suggested some piano chord changes to Gaye.[2] In a 1982 interview conducted in Europe, Gaye recalled "Berry heard me playing it on the piano. He came over and he said something to the effect of, 'I like that melody but can you do something else with it.' That was my first power encounter with him. I remember he wanted me to change some chords. I had a brief argument with him as to why I thought it should remain the way I wrote it. In any event, I changed things his way."[3]

Singing the song in a husky, strong voice, the song's guitarist David Hamilton later stated, "You could hear the man screaming on that tune, you could tell he was hungry", further implicating Gaye's determination to succeed noting, "If you listen to that song you'll say, 'Hey man, he was trying to make it because he was on his last leg'."[1] The song included Martha Reeves on background vocals with several of her friends from a former group, the Del-Phis, including Rosalind Ashford, Gloria Williams and Annette Beard. Reeves, Ashford and Beard later formed Martha and the Vandellas at the end of the year.

Release and live performances[edit]

Released as a single on July 23, 1962, "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" became Gaye's first song to crack the Billboard Hot 100, eventually peaking at number 46. On the Hot R&B Sides chart, the song peaked at number eight. Though Gaye was initially disappointed the song didn't become a bigger pop hit, he was satisfied that he finally had a hit record.[1] The song and follow-up hit, "Hitch Hike", eventually gave Gaye top billing over other acts during the Motortown Revue performances of 1963.

Gaye performed the song constantly during his early years, most notably on the recorded performance of the Motortown Revue at the Apollo Theater in June 1963. Gaye performed it less frequently during the latter half of his career, often singing parts of the song as part of a "sixties medley" during his 1970s concert shows.

Mentions, covers and samples[edit]

Gaye hinted at the title of the song on at least two recordings: on his 1973 duet album with Diana Ross, Diana & Marvin, he mentions "I'm just a stubborn kind of fella", at the end of their recording of the ballad, "Include Me In Your Life". On his 1978 album, Here, My Dear, he sings one of ex-wife Anna's quotes to him, "what's it husband, makes you so stubborn?"

The McCoys released a version of the song on their 1965 debut album, Hang on Sloopy.[4]

In 1990, Big Daddy Kane interpolated the song's opening chant on his song, "Cause I Can Do It Right" on his album, Cold Chocolate.[5] The song was covered twice, first by The Supremes and The Temptations in 1969 and in 1995 by Stevie Wonder and R&B girl group For Real.[6]

When Phil Spector first heard "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" he was so excited he lost control of his car while driving down Sunset Boulevard with Jack Nitzsche.



  1. ^ a b c d Posner 2009, p. 97.
  2. ^ Dahl 2011, p. 70.
  3. ^ Bowman, Rob (April 2006). "Marvin Gaye: The Real Thing". Marvin Gaye: the Real Thing in Performance 1964-1981: 7.
  4. ^ The McCoys, Hang on Sloopy Retrieved June 24, 2015
  5. ^ "Big Daddy Kane's Cause I Can Do It Right sample of Marvin Gaye's Stubborn Kind of Fellow". Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  6. ^ "Stubborn Kind of Fellow - Marvin Gaye". Retrieved October 2, 2013.

External links[edit]