Eddie Holland, Otis Williams and Grace Slick.
Eddie Holland of Holland-Dozier-Holland, was to Motown music what Gerry Goffin and Carole King were to the Brill Building. Eddie, his brother Brian, and Lamont Dozier wrote, produced, and arranged hit after hit for virtually the entire stable of Motown talent. Just a few of their hits: "Heatwave," "Quicksand," "Where Did Our Love Go," "Mickey's Monkey," "Baby I Need Your Loving," "Nowhere To Run," "Stop In The Name Of Love"... I could go on and on. Almost every hit by The Four Tops, The Supremes and Martha & the Vandellas, were written by the trio. As a kid buying 45s, I saw their names on almost every single I bought... for years. Incredible talent. If there's a songwriting award they haven't won, I couldn't tell you what it is.
Here's just one of their songs, done way back by the Isley Brothers, it's been covered... a lot. Here's one of the best, by the Doobie Brothers.
"Take Me In Your Arms"
Otis Williams has spent most of his life as the baritone/second tenor for The Temptations. From their first Top 20 hit in 1964, "The Way You Do The Things You Do," through their sixty or so CDs... 60 freakin' CDs, Otis Williams has been part of one of the defining groups of an era. Back in the day there were two musical arguments: Beatles or Stones and Four Tops or Temptations. While the Four Tops were great and had more of the pop sound, The Tempts were smooth as silk, always expanding their repertoire. "Cloud Nine," talking about drugs, "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"... a deadbeat dad. As for pretty... they did that too. Think "My Girl." How to choose? "I refuse to explain."
"I Wish It Would Rain"
And then there's Grace.
If you've read this column long enough, you know Grace was my idol. Talk about attitude, hell she was all that AND she could sing. And I'm not talking about the Starship Pop Grace, I'm talking about the Woodstock Grace, the "tear down the wall motherfucker" Grace. The Grace who suffered no fools. Really, if you understand my devotion to her, it explains so much about me. While Grace could handle it on her own, think "Somebody To Love" or "White Rabbit," for me it was always her songs with Marty Balin singing lead. They played off each other perfectly. From Woodstock... Warning, some crazy 60s nekkidness.
"3/5ths Of A Mile In 10 Seconds"
October 30, 1939. One hell of a day for music. Party Time.