The Originals, comprised of Hank Dixon, Freddie Gorman, Walter Gaines, C.P. Spencer, and (briefly) Joe Stubbs, united in 1965 as backup singers for Motown Records. They debuted on Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted” in 1966 and continued to sing backup for him and eventually other artists like David Ruffin, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye. However, their extensive work as backup singers was not credited. It was Marvin Gaye who took a special interest in the group, producing their first single, an upbeat soul cover of folk and blues singer Lead Belly’s “Good Night Irene” (1967), which would be a moderate success.
While continuing to sing background vocals, the group began to work on their original music on the side. With Marvin Gaye as their producer, in 1969 their next single “Baby I’m For Real” broke into the charts; finally, the Originals saw the beginnings of the success they each worked hard for, for half a decade. The single reached #1 on US R&B and #14 on the US Pop charts. Leading up to their debut album, they continued to release singles including “Green Grow The Lilacs” (1969) and “We’ve Got A Way Out Of Love” (1969). That same year, the album Green Grow The Lilacs (Later reissued as Baby I’m For Real) was released and peaked on the US R&B chart at #18.
In 1970, C.P. Spencer left the group and was replaced with Ty Hunter. They continued to release music and albums at a fast pace. In 1970 they mimicked that same success with four singles breaking into the charts including “The Bells” (#12 US Pop, #4 US R&B), “We Can Make It Baby” (#74 US Pop, #20 US R&B), “I Like Your Style” (#20 US R&B), and “God Bless Whoever Sent You” (#53 US Pop, #14 US R&B). Under the mentorship of Marvin Gaye, the group continued this pace for several years.
In 1976, the Originals would leave Motown. Despite a brief hiatus in 1981, the group continued to perform and tour with a new lineup.
The Originals – There’s A Chance When You’ll Love Will Lose (1973)
The Originals – Baby I’m For Real
The Originals’ Freddie Gorman cowrote The Marvelette’s #1 song, “Please Mr Postman”
Rizik, C., n.d. The Originals. [online] SoulTracks – Soul Music Biographies, News and Reviews. Available at: (https://www.soultracks.com/the_originals.htm)
Soullyoldies.com. 2004. The Originals Biography – Portrait of the Soulful Clock-Stoppers. [online] Available at: (http://www.soullyoldies.com/originals-biography.html)
AllMusic. n.d. The Originals Biography, Songs, & Albums | AllMusic. [online] Available at: (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-originals-mn0000890724/biography)
Soulwalking.co.uk. n.d. The Originals Page. [online] Available at: (http://www.soulwalking.co.uk/Originals.html)