50 stiffs in 2010: harvey fuqua
July 12, 2010, 9:47 pm
Filed under: 50 stiffs in 2010

harvey fuqua, born lousville, kentucky 1929, died detroit, michigan on july 6th – singer, songwriter, producer (photo: left to right: marvin gaye and his wife anna gordy gaye, gwen gordy fuqua, and her husband harvey fuqua)

pictomat can only hope to reach 50 important deaths this year. however, there couldn’t be a more versatile man to start the catagory. for being as industrious and interesting, it took a lot of searching to find out the twists and turns in this man’s career. pictomat will know now to look at british newspaper obits for american music information. if there is one thing the brits know, it is rock and roll music history.

harvey fuqua was part of the doo-wop group “the moonglows” that had two giant hits in the late 1950’s, “sincerely” and “ten commandments of love”, on leon and phil chess brothers’ famous chicago label chess records. fuqua discovered etta james for the brothers and their label. she had hopes of marrying fuqua. fuqua had other ideas. he took his drummer, marvin gaye to barry gordy’s motown label and he married gordy’s sister gwen while gaye took anna (both stunners).

at motown, he left singing behind and spent his most fertile years there signing jr. walker and the all stars and the spinners. he produced the now singing mr. gaye and later suggested teaming gaye up with the unknown tammi terrel, producing the first of their long string of hits “ain’t  no mountain high enough”. fuqua stuck around motown long enough to help write diana ross’s swan song with the supremes “someday we’ll be together”. it is fuqua’s frequent writing partner johnny bristol and producer of the song that prompts miss ross along with the “you tell ’em” ad libs in the backround and with the typical motown lack of class, the rest of the supremes did not appear on their own farewell tune with ross.

fuqua left motown. when disco hit, he discovered sylvester and the hot band in san francisco (with backround singers, the two-tons-of-fun, who later became the weathergirls of “it’s raining men” fame). pictomat frequently watched sylvester, the town’s most famous drag performer (who really sang!) at bars on polk street. pictomat’s best friend in bagdad on the bay used to eat barbequed ribs with sylvester’s backup singers the two-tons-of-fun (the singers ate quite alot of bbq). sylvester, produced by fuqua, made two disco classic together, “dance to the disco heat” and “you make me feel might real”.

fuqua reunited with marvin gaye, now a supa-dupa-star, and produced gaye’s last monster hit “sexual healing”. what a career! there couldn’t be a more worthy person to start this new “stiffs” category. you will be missed, harvey.


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a tiny side note: Sylvester’s bass player was the fantastically talented and underutilized Bob Kingson. Yes, that would be my brother. Yes, he does have the gold records hanging on his wall.

Comment by e

hey, e – just looked at the personnel listings on “sylvester’s original hits” and see that your brother played on both “dance to the disco heat” and “(you make me feel) mighty real”. i knew, in passing michael finden, the keyboard player through my first boyfriend. he is listed together with your brother on sylvester’s two big hits!

we spent a lot of time in s.f. before and after sylvester was discovered by fuqua. i was not present when my best friend, who lived in s.f., became friends with finden and would call me up after a gig and tell me hilarious stories of going out with sylvester and the two-tons-o-fun after a show. boy those big girls (and i include sylvester in that sentence) could chow down the bbq and fried chicken.

god, love ’em all. my old bf, finden, and sylvester died of aids with a decade of this heady time.

Comment by pictomat

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