b/w Who’s Lovin’ You
(Written by Smokey Robinson)
There can be no greater illustration of the fickle nature of showbusiness, and the way Motown now handled acts who weren’t pulling their commercial weight, than the story of what was happening to Brenda Holloway in the summer of 1965.
When Brenda was invited to join the Beatles’ upcoming American tour (following in the footsteps of Mary Wells, the Fabs being big Motown fans), an itinerary which would soon take in the unprecedented show at Shea Stadium in front of 55,000 screaming Beatlemaniacs, it must have seemed to outside observers that things were still going smoothly. Miss Holloway had been the “It” girl of the previous spring, earmarked for great things, and this would have seemed like another step in the right direction.
But in reality, the Beatles engagement was a rare positive in what was becoming a terribly disappointing time, a temporary high papering over the cracks that had started to develop. Back in the corridors of Hitsville, where she was already unpopular for her West Coast background and sometimes uncouth demeanour, and where (as the Velvelettes had already found to their cost) an extended absence could see you lose ground you’d never make up again, Brenda Holloway was in danger of becoming irrelevant.
Back in the spring of 1964, when she had first hit it big with Every Little Bit Hurts, her sun had looked like it would never set; bold, beautiful and possessed of a powerful voice, her début Motown single had sailed into the high reaches of the charts, an album following swiftly on its heels, and everyone had her down as One To Watch, tipped to be a big star. So big, in fact, that Motown were able to use her burgeoning reputation as a bargaining chip to get package tour gigs for a struggling, little-known girl group they’d had on their books for years.
Fast forward just fifteen months, and that girl group had racked up five Number One hits in a row, lavished with new material from Hitsville’s top writer-producers, while Brenda slogged her way through a torrent of ill-suited hand-me-downs and uninspired original songs. She’d never see another Top Twenty hit, never mind any more Motown albums. But hey, at least she got to open for the Beatles. Continue reading »