On the death of the Motown songwriter Lamont Doziere

aDiana Ross took to the stage in Glastonbury in June, and she’s not said to hit every beat – even struggling pop singers at age 78 – but her song selection has been praised as impeccable, including, of course, some of the songs she collaborated with Lamont Doziere I once wrote to her and to the Dutch brothers: You cannot hurry with love, love a child, stop in the name of love.

That much “love” can only come from a man who called his first singing group The Romeos when he was 15 in high school, before turning to making a living as a shoe-shining boy on the streets of Chicago. Only later did he become a millionaire, according to the rules of the American Dream.

Whether the dream came true by the time Dozier, beginning in 1962, began hitting it after hitting the Motown assembly line with Brian and Eddie Holland, for Martha and Vandals, Marvin Gaye, and Four Blazes and Supermens, can be questioned—a president needed The company’s Berry Gordy to every dollar himself, money was on the line when the Dutch/Dozier/Netherlands trio left and sued Motown in 1967 at the height of their success.

The three must believe they are irreplaceable and invulnerable when they encounter the Motown Beating Machine. After all, they were perfectly able to compete for number one in the charts with pop hysteria for the Supremes or the symphonic soul of four peaks of the Beatles and the entire conquest of British pop.

How to go? A few years ago, Lamont Doziere told me how the three of us huddled around the piano before breakfast, forgot coffee and cake, mixed major and minor keys, inserted piccolos, and wanted to raise sounds to seemingly impossible heights: three midas, three times infallible. Except that Gordy was able to drag lawsuits endlessly, so in the fast-moving pop field, no one will really remember Holland/Dozier/Netherlands.

It wasn’t until 1973 when labels Invictus and Hot Wax, meant to compete with Motown, were able to launch their first and then smaller hits. Teenage pop music changed, soul became funk and then disco, wonder boy Lamont Dozier became a big, plump, sad-looking guy who gave his ideas and songs to new pop stars like Alison Moyet, Phil Collins or Mish Hocknall, with episodic success, a Grammy nomination. , Oscar, but also with long dry spells and oddly random individual recordings.

As with many great songwriters and producers – let’s say Phil Spector, Mickey Most, also Quincy Jones – three or four years of world domination are followed by three or four decades of total helplessness and even self-parody.

I will never forget how Lamont Doziere, who died on Monday at the age of 81, sat behind Bosendorfer in the studio of Bayerischer Rundfunk and dissected and explained his old compositions with precision, with great tenderness and sadness. a lot of love. thank you romeo

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