Out of the Motor City, Detroit, in 1959 came Barry Gordy's first artist, MARV JOHNSON. Barry said he was at a Carnival one night and Marv was performing on an outside stage. Barry saw that the young singer/songwriter had talent, and signed him to his new record label TAMLA. (The label was eventually merged into MOTOWN.)
Marv's first release, "Come To Me" didn't have national distribution, so Gordy cut a deal with United Artists, and the record reached #30 on The Pop Charts. Not bad for a first effort, and an indication that Marv's career had legs. Over the next 3 years, Johnson would score nine tunes on the Hot 100 including his biggest: YOU'VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES, which reached #10 Pop and sold over a million discs making it both Barry's and Marv's first Gold Record.
Although U.A. would have been more comfortable having Marv record in NYC near their Head Quarters, he preferred to record at 2648 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit , a house that came to be known as HITSVILLE USA. Marv Johnson would go on to be associated with Motown for the rest of his career. He eventually moving into the Promotion and Sales departments when his recording career faded away. His presence was still felt in the recording studio as a writer, however. He wrote songs for great Soul and R&B artists like Tyrone Davis and Johnny Taylor.
In 1993 Marv Johnson unexpectedly died of a stroke at age 54. He's buried in Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery, "Motown Pioneer" engraved on his headstone. Here's Marv performing his Hit, "You've Got What It Takes," Live with good Picture and Sound. Marv had a sense of humor, listen carefully to the lyrics. @therealdonrocks
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