1964 Brenda Holloway – Every Little Bit Hurts
Brenda Holloway was born in 1946 in a small town located between Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 1951, her family moved to Los Angeles. Brenda started taking lessons in violin, flute, and piano, and also sang in her church choir. By the time she was 14 years-old, Brenda began singing background vocals on demos and for live performances by R&B groups.
Brenda recorded her first solo records for a small record label in 1962. While neither record performed well, the second single, Every Little Bit Hurts, became important when she re-recorded it for Motown. The vocals on the new recording were almost the same, but Motown added a layer of strings to the song. The single peaked at #13 on the Hot 100 in 1964.
Brenda appeared on American Bandstand and joined Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars (which also included a then-unknown Motown group, The Supremes).
Her single proved popular with other artists who recorded their own versions of the song. The Spencer Davis Group reached the Canadian top ten and peaked at #41 in the UK with their single. The most surprising cover came from The Clash.
Motown had Brenda record a few songs that they had planned for Mary Wells. Smokey Robinson wrote When I’m Gone, and Brenda’s single went to #25 on the Hot 100 and #12 on the R&B chart in 1965. Mary Wells had been one of the opening acts for the previous Beatles tour of the US, and they invited Brenda as one of the acts for the Beatles 1965 tour.
Friction grew between Brenda and Motown. Some of the Motown employees felt that Brenda did not fit in well, and Brenda began to feel like she was being given hand-me-down songs to record.
In 1967, Motown finally issued a single that Brenda had co-written herself, but her single only reached #39 on the Hot 100. Radio overlooked the song, but it became a #2 hit for Blood, Sweat, And Tears in 1969: You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.
Motown failed to pay Brenda proper royalties for the cover of her song. It took a lawsuit to get them to correct their mistake.
Brenda retired from the music industry in 1968, but later began recording again. While Brenda recorded a handful of records for other labels, she never reached the charts again. She continued to make public appearances and provided background vocals for other artists as recently as 2011.
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