1970 The Originals – The Bells
Walter Gaines, Henry Dixon, Freddie Gorman, and C. P. Spencer had all been singing in various groups in Detroit in the early sixties before forming The Originals. Freddie had worked as a mailman and co-wrote the Marvelettes chart-topping single Please Mr. Postman. The song gave Motown its first number one record on the Hot 100 in 1961. The Beatles covered the song early in their career and it later returned to the top of the chart in 1975 when The Carpenters recorded their own cover version.
In 1966, they released an uptempo single of the Weavers’ 1950 cover of Lead Belly’s folk song, Goodnight Irene, but it did not reach the charts.
Motown made extensive use of the group as background singers for songs by Stevie Wonder, David and Jimmy Ruffin, Edwin Starr, and Marvin Gaye. Marvin became friends with the group and promised to help them find their own hit singles.
Marvin and his wife wrote Baby I’m For Real for the group. Marvin and Richard Morris produced the single with the four members taking turns singing both lead vocals and background vocals. The single topped the R&B chart in 1969 and peaked at #14 on the Hot 100. The record sold over a million copies.
Marvin was the sole producer on the group’s next single, The Bells. Iris Gordy
and Elgie Stover co-wrote the song with Marvin and Anna. The single got as high as #12 on the Hot 100 in 1970 and also reached #4 on the R&B chart.
The group had three more singles that reached the top twenty on the R&B chart, only one of which Marvin worked on. The group never again got near the top forty on the Hot 100. In spite of recording an album nearly every year through the seventies, the group could not reach the charts after 1971 until 1976. That year they topped the US Dance chart with the disco record Down To Love Town.