Legendary Motown Songwriter Lamont Dozier Dies at 81

As part of songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland, he helped define the label’s 1960s sound
Lamont Dozier at Holland-Dozier-Holland's 2015 induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Photo by Vincent Sandoval / WireImage)

Legendary songwriter Lamont Dozier, an integral part of the Motown sound thanks to his songwriting contributions for Diana Ross and The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Martha and The Vandellas and The Four Tops, died this morning (Aug. 9) at 81, according to an Instagram post from his son Lamont Dozier Jr.

In 1962, Dozier joined brothers Brian and Eddie Holland in the songwriting trio Holland-Dozier-Holland and went on to write scores of hits for Detroit-based Motown over the next several years, including 10 No. 1s for The Supremes alone. Their roster of successes is staggering and constitutes some of the most beloved songs of the 20th century, including “Heat Wave,” “Quicksand” “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me,” “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You),” “Stop! in the Name of Love,” “Nowhere To Run,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” “I Hear a Symphony,” “”This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

For their efforts, Holland-Dozier-Holland were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two years later.

The trio left Motown in 1968 and launched their own labels, Invictus and Hot Wax, with Dozier recording as a solo artist for both. Amid a lengthy lawsuit with Motown over royalties and profit-sharing, the Holland-Dozier-Holland partnership dissolved in the mid-1970s. After many years apart, the songwriters worked together in the late 2000s to compose the score for a musical adaptation of the film The First Wives Club.

Dozier spent the past four decades recording his own material, including the single “Going Back to My Roots” that disco outfit Odyssey turned into a hit in 1981, and writing for other artists, including Phil Collins, who won a Golden Globe and a Grammy for their chart-topping 1988 collaboration “Two Hearts.” Dozier also wrote with U.K. artists Simply Red and Alison Moyet.

“As the daughter of Mary Wilson, one of the original co-founders of the Supremes, Lamont Dozier was not only one of mom’s dearest friends but considered him family,” Motown founder Berry Gordy said in a statement. “I can remember mom jokingly telling us about how he tried to convince her that he wrote ’Where Did Our Love Go’ especially for them, but mom knew that another group had already passed on it, and told him so. She recalled that she didn’t really care for it at first, because she felt they were too young for that kind of song, but it eventually grew on her. I guess it grew on the world as well since it became their first #1 hit.

“Lamont along with the Holland brothers affectionally known as HDH, were the reason why the ‘No Hit Supremes‘ became the world’s #1 female recording group of all time with 12 #1 hits, 5 of them consecutive. Prayers, love and support to the Dozier family, the Motown family, friends and fans. We will always have his beautiful music and memories.”

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