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The Contours

Founding member Billingslea, now 77 years old, continues to perform with his group, 'The Contours with Joe Billingslea', which is among the acts featured in a DVD released by Motown in January 2007 called Motown: The Early Years, featuring its appearances on the Public Broadcasting System specials. In March 2010, the Contours were inducted into the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame. The induction show featured a performance by the Contours with Joe Billingslea. Original member Hoggs left the Contours in 1964 to become a minister. Today he is retired and lives in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. In 2005, Hoggs made his first and only appearance since 1964, singing with Billingslea and the Contours for the taping of Motown: The Early Years. Johnson committed suicide in Detroit, on July 11, 1981, at age 40. Gordon died sometime during 1999. Fair died in December 2004. Mid-1960s member, Joe Stubbs - brother of Levi Stubbs, died on February 5, 1998. Guitarist Huey Davis (pictured on the Do You Love Me album cover, was an unofficial member of the Contours although he was pictured in virtually all of Motown's publicity shots of the group) died on February 23, 2000, at his home in Detroit.

Sylvester Potts continues to perform with his group, 'The Contours featuring Sylvester Potts' with 2012 performances including the re-opening of The Detroit Historical Museum and Aretha Franklin's Annual Christmas Party. The line-up consists of Motown veteran Sylvester Potts, 16 year member of The Miracles, Tee Turner together with Anthony Womack and Kim Green.

In 1964, the Contours recorded a second album for Motown entitled The Contours: Can You Dance (Gordy 910). It featured the chart hits, "Can You Do It", "Can You Jerk Like Me", "That Day When She Needed Me", and nine other tracks, including the Marvelettes' hit, "Danger: Heartbreak Dead Ahead". For unknown reasons, this album was unreleased by Motown, but in April 2011, the album's original tracks, along with fourteen unreleased original Contours 1960s Motown recordings, and new 2011 interviews with the Contours' founder Joe Billingslea as well as with Sylvester Potts, was released as part of the CD compilation collection, Dance With The Contours on the import label, Kent Records, under legal license from, and with the full approval of, the owners of the Motown catalogue

 

Joe Billingslea (born November 14, 1937) and Billy Gordon founded a singing group called The Blenders in their native Detroit, Michigan in 1959. They completed the group with Billy Hoggs and Billy Rollins, who had responded to an ad placed in the local newspaper by Billingslea. The group soon added Leroy Fair (in place of Billy Rollins) and bass singer Hubert Johnson and changed the name to The Contours. In the fall of 1960, the group auditioned for Berry Gordy's Motown Records. Gordy turned the act down, prompting the group to pay a visit to the home of Johnson's cousin, R&B star and Gordy associate Jackie Wilson. Wilson in turn got The Contours a second audition with Gordy, at which they sang the same songs they had at the first audition, the same way, and were signed to a seven-year contract.

The group's first single, "Whole Lotta' Woman," was released in January 1961 and failed to chart. Within months of its release, Leroy Fair was replaced by Benny Reeves, brother of Martha Reeves. Shortly thereafter, Benny Reeves left to serve in the United States Navy and he was replaced by Sylvester Potts. In 1961 the group's second single, "The Stretch", was released and it also failed to chart. In early 1962, Gordy had The Contours record "Do You Love Me," a composition allegedly originally meant for The Temptations. But, in a 2008 interview for MOJO Magazine, original Contour Joe Billingslea stated that this was not the case. In the article, Billingslea stated to author Phil Alexander that the song's author, Motown founder Berry Gordy, offered the song to The Contours first, only intending to give The Temptations the song after he saw that The Contours were having trouble with it. However, after practicing the tune again, Gordy gave the nod—and the song—to The Contours.

The resulting record, with its shouted lead vocals from Billy Gordon, hit #1 on Billboard '​s R&B chart and crossed over to #3 on the Hot 100 in 1962. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc

The Contours were one of the early African-American soul singing groups signed to Motown Records. The group is best known for its singular Billboard Top 10 hit, "Do You Love Me," a song that peaked twice in the Top 20.

50s, 60s Hits

Do You Love Me

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