The Full Wiki

Marv Johnson: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Marv Johnson
Birth name Marvin Earl Johnson
Born 15 October 1938(1938-10-15)
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Died 16 May 1993 (aged 54)
Columbia, South Carolina, USA
Occupations singer, songwriter, pianist
Instruments vocals, piano
Years active c. 1956–1993
Labels Motown Records
Motor City Records

Marvin Earl Johnson (October 15, 1938 – May 16, 1993) was an American R&B and soul singer, most notable for performing on the first record to ever come from what became Motown Records.

The gospel training that Johnson received as a teenager in the Junior Serenaders was a major influence on his early R&B releases. In 1958, he formed a partnership with the young Berry Gordy, who was then working as a songwriter and producer for Jackie Wilson. Gordy produced Johnson's earliest releases on Kudo, and launched his Tamla label with Johnson's single "Come To Me", which became a hit when it was licensed to United Artists. Johnson remained with the label until 1965, scoring a run of chart entries in the early 60s with "You Got What It Takes", "I Love The Way You Move" and "Move Two Mountains" - all produced by Gordy. Johnson's tracks showcased his delicate tenor vocals against a female gospel chorus, and he maintained this style when he signed to Gordy's Motown Records stable in 1965. His initial release on the Gordy Records label, the soul favorite "I Miss You Baby", was a US hit, although it proved to be a false dawn. His subsequent US releases failed, and Johnson eventually abandoned his recording career in 1968. Ironically, the UK Tamla-Motown label chose this moment to revive Johnson's 1966 recording "I'll Pick A Rose For My Rose", which became an unexpected Top 20 hit amidst a dramatic revival in the label's popularity in Britain.

Reflecting on said record's 1969 UK success, in 1992 Johnson told noted soul writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning 'Blues & Soul': "I guess roses are obviously traditionally popular in England, plus it was a good clean story. And that song saw me coming to England for the first time to do 'Top Of The Pops' - though all that promotion work in itself wasn't that new to me. You know, I'd been doing TV shows like 'American Bandstand' in The States back in the early Sixties. But at the same time the idea of actually coming to another part of the world WAS a big thing - it always IS to any man who is intelligent enough to want to expand his horizons."[1]

Meanwhile, with Johnson retiring in 1970 to become a sales ececutive at Motown, after almost two decades working behind the scenes in the music business, he returned to performing in 1987, touring with the "Sounds Of Motown" package and re-recording his old hits for the Nightmare label. He was teamed with Carolyn Gill (of The Velvelettes) by record producer Ian Levine to release "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" in 1987. He released Come To Me on Levine's Motor City label. Johnson collapsed and died of a heart attack at a concert in South Carolina on 16 May 1993. [2]


Life and recording career

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Johnson began his career singing with a doo-wop group called the Serenaders in the mid 1950s. With budding talents not only as a singer but as a songwriter and pianist, he was discovered by Berry Gordy while Johnson performed at a carnival. Gordy had already decided to form his first record label, Tamla, and Johnson's recording of Gordy's song "Come To Me" became the label's first single in May 1959. The song was eventually picked up by United Artists, and reached number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Between 1959 and 1961, Johnson would issue nine Billboard Hot 100 singles including two top tenners; "You Got What It Takes", which reached number 10 and "I Love The Way You Love", which reached number 9. He scored his final Top 40 single in 1960 with "(You've Got To) Move Two Mountains".

Marv enjoyed many hits in Australia where he racked up a total of 8 Top 40 hits, including 3 number 1's, and several Top Tenners. "Come To Me" was released in Australia on EMI'sLondon Records (as was most of his releases in Oz) (HL-1522) and reached number 16 on the 2UE Top 40 in Sydney. "You Got What It Takes" was his biggest Australian hit, topping the national charts for over 16 weeks in 1960. After "I Love The Way You Love" became a national Top 10 hit in mid 1960, Marv flew to Australia to meet entrpreneur and "Big Show" creator Lee Gordon and perform in his September Big Show, "Twist It Up". At the top of the bill was Bobby Rydell (Wild One, That Old Black Magic), Chubby Checker (The Twist, The Hucklebuck, The Class) and James Darren (Goodbye Cruel World, Her Royal Majesty), supporting international artists were Jackie Wilson (Am I The Man, Night), Marv Johnson, Barry Mann (Footsteps, Sweet Little You) and Johnny Restivo. They were supported by Australian artists Johnny O'Keefe & The Dee Jays, Dig Richards, The Delltones and Col Joye & The Joyboys. The show was one of the biggest sellouts of that year.

In the UK, he had two Top Ten hits. In the UK Singles Chart "You Got What It Takes", reached number 7 in 1960, and "I'll Pick A Rose For My Rose" number 10 in 1969. Three other recordings made the top 75: "I Love The Way You Love", "Ain't Gonna Be That Way" and "I Miss You Baby".

Johnson's early Motown issued singles would be the precedent to the future sound and success of the label, which by the time Johnson began issuing his Motown records nationally in 1965, had become the biggest independent label in the world. After issuing his final Motown singles in 1968, Johnson remained with Motown working on sales and promotion throughout the 1970s. He also wrote songs for Tyrone Davis and Johnnie Taylor.[1]

Johnson continued singing into the 1990s, releasing a solo album on the London based Motor City Records label. Johnson died of a stroke on 16 May 1993, in Columbia, South Carolina, at the age of 54. He is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Selected Discography

Releases on the Tamla Motown label (UK)

  • STML/TML11111 I'll Pick a Rose For My Rose LP
  • TMG525 Why Do You Want to Let Me Go / I'm Not a Plaything 7"
  • TMG680 I'll Pick a Rose for My Rose / You Got the Love I Love 7"
  • TMG713 I Miss You Baby (How I Miss You) / Bad Girl 7"
  • TMG737 So Glad You Chose Me / I'm Not a Plaything 7"
  • TMG973 Got To Be There / I Miss You Baby (How I Miss You) 7" (B side by Marv Johnson, A side by Michael Jackson)
  • TMG1052 What Becomes of the Broken Hearted / I'll Pick a Rose For My Rose 7" (B side by Marv Johnson, A side by Jimmy Ruffin)



External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address