Starman David Bowie
Martha and the Vandellas were one of the most successful groups on the Motown label during the 1960s.
The label's second most-successful all-female singing group after The Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were known for a more southern-styled soul than the Supremes.
To celebrate their music, we’ve chosen their top five songs.
‘Heat Wave’ was written and produced by Holland–Dozier–Holland and was one of the first songs to exemplify the style of music later termed as the ‘Motown Sound’. The single was a breakthrough hit, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and at #1 on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart.
It also gave the group their only Grammy Award nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for 1964.
Dancing in the Street peaked at number two in American and also reached the top 5 in the UK, peaking at number four in 1969, after initially peaking at number 28 on the chart - the song helped to revive the Vandellas' success in England.
Another hit written by Motown's main creative team, Holland–Dozier–Holland, ‘Jimmy Mack’ was the final Top 10 hit for the Vandellas in America, peaking at number 10 in 1967 and at number-one on the Billboard R&B Singles chart.
Sheena Easton released a remake of the song in 1985 and Karen Carpenter recorded a demo of it for her solo album but it was never completed or released.
‘Nowhere to Run’ one of Martha and the Vandellas’ signature songs and was yet another one written and produced by Holland–Dozier–Holland.
It was a successful release for both the group and the Motown label, going to number eight on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, and number five on the Billboard R&B Singles chart. It also charted in the UK peaking at number twenty-six on the chart.
The Vandellas' version of this song was issued as the first official release off the group's 1966 album, Watchout! It went into the top ten in the US and was also a chart hit for the group in the UK where the song peaked at number twenty-one.
The Temptations also recorded a version of this song that was released on their 1967 album In A Mellow Mood.