|Photograph of Gladys Horton (1945-2011) is from here|
I loved Motown music when growing up. All of the sounds emanating nationally and internationally from Detroit through the 1960s and 1970s found their way into my ears and through my body. Motown, for a time, was the music I most loved to dance to. For this reason and others, I mourn the loss of one of the most distinctive, upbeat-while-plaintive female lead singers of that era and genre, Gladys Horton. At fifteen (!!), she brought Berry Gordy his first #1 smash hit: "Please Mr. Postman" which would later be picked up and whitened by the Beatles.
What is strange to me is that Ms. Horton's passing has been noted (briefly) in some media, including in print media, but they can't agree on what day she passed, nor how old she was at the time of her passing. I know there was controversy about when George Harrison was born: February 24th or 25th? This confusion can happen whenever anyone is born or passes close to midnight. Medical reports may written up recording a time that may differ from eye-witness accounts of such indelible moments into and out of live. But this level of erroneous reporting seems totally messed up to me (and when I say "messed up" what I mean is racist and sexist). Will the age and date-of-death of any of the white British male band-mates who comprised members of The British Invasion, to name but one music genre contemporaneous with a portion of the U.S.'s Motown success, be misrepresented in the mass media, and in Billboard, specifically? Will media really get wrong the day and age of any living member of The Dave Clark Five, or Herman's Hermits, for example, when such time comes when one of them passes on?
Can no one at the Associated Press do the math? She was born on May 30, 1945, which would mean she lived only until the terribly young age of 65. She would have turned 66 later this year.
The cause and specifics of her health struggles also remind me of the very lethal scourge that is cardiovascular disease among all U.S. women, but particularly African American women, what with it being a stress-related condition, with Black women having to endure and resist the systematic assaults and everyday aggravations both of racism and sexism from birth on to what is far too often an early death.
What follows was found by me at billboard.com and may be linked back to by clicking on the title. This material produced largely by the Associated Press, is edited by me and those edits appear in the form of strike-throughs, the adding of the correct age, and minor additions to the text which appear in bold and in brackets. The material is being reproduced here for the purposes of honoring an artist's life and passing, for political commentary and analysis, and not for material or personal gain.
by Associated Press | January 27, 2011 12:02 EST
Gladys Horton, who co-founded the 1960s Motown group The Marvelettes and sang on hits including "Please Mr. Postman," has died in Los Angeles at age
Her son, Vaughn Thornton, says Horton died Wednesday night [not on Thursday, as some media are reporting] in a Sherman Oaks nursing home where she had been recovering from a stroke.
Video: The Marvelettes sing "Please Mr. Postman"
Horton was a teenager in the Detroit suburb of Inkster when she and some friends formed a group they called "The Casinyets," which was short for "can't sing yet."
When Georgia Dobbins had to leave, Horton became lead singer. The group changed its name to The Marvelettes, and Horton was 15 when Motown released "Please Mr. Postman" in 1961. "Postman" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Dec. 16, 1961 and was the first No. 1 for Berry Gordy's Motown Record Corporation.
The Marvelettes went on to chart a total of 23 Hot 100 hits, including "Postman," "Playboy" (No. 7), "Beechwood 4-5789" (No. 17) and "Don't Mess With Bill" (No. 7). Horton was replaced as lead singer in 1965 and left the group two years later.
(Additional reporting by Monica Herrera, Billboard.com)