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The Contours

 

Billy Gordon, Billy Hoggs, Joe Billingslea and Billy Rollins founded a singing group called The Blenders in their native Detroit, Michigan in 1959. The group soon added Leroy Fair (in place of Billy Rollins), bass singer Hubert Johnson, and guitarist Huey Davis, and auditioned for Berry Gordy’s Motown Records. Gordy turned the act down, prompting Johnson to call his 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 the company.

The group’s first singles, “Whole Lotta Woman” and “The Stretch”, were unsuccessful, and the group was in danger of being let go. Also at this time, Leroy Fair was replaced with Sylvester Potts. In early 1962, Gordy had the Contours record “Do You Love Me”, a composition originally meant for The Temptations. The resulting record, with its shouted lead vocals from Billy Gordon, became a number-two hit 1962.

In 1964, Billy Hoggs, Joe Billingslea, Hubert Johnson, and Sylvester Potts all quit the group. Berry Gordy hired Council Gay, Jerry Green and Alvin English to back Billy Gordon, making the Contours a quartet. Within a year, Sylvester Potts returned to the group (replacing Alvin English), but Billy Gordon departed at about the same time. Gordon was replaced by Joe Stubbs, brother of Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs. Stubbs soon quit the act and was replaced by Dennis Edwards.


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

Members of this Group


YankMetGaiJet111

click67

clubuser08

foolsgold01

Jeff

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