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Motown Group The Marvelettes’ Singer Wanda Young Has Died

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No other details on her death have been publicly shared. Her passing was confirmed by Claudette Robinson of The Miracles.

Wanda Young, a member of the legendary Motown girl group the Marvelettes and lead singer on their hits like “I’ll Keep Holding On” and “Don’t Mess With Bill,” has died at the age of 78.

[Wanda Young] had this little voice that was sexy to me, a little country kind of sexy voice. I knew if I could get a song for her, it would be a smash,” said Smokey Robinson.

After signing on with Motown in 1962, Wanda’s first child was born. A year later she married her longtime boyfriend Bobby Rogers, a member of the Miracles. They had two children and divorced in 1975 after 12 years of marriage.

LIFE OF A ROCK STAR

Young reportedly struggled with substance abuse and alcoholism for years following the Marvelettes’ departure, largely due to witnessing the shooting death of her sister.

There were originally a quintet and they were best known for their track Please Mr. Postman, which was recorded by The Beatles in 1963 and then remade by The Carpenters in the 1970s, and it became a number one hit across the world.

BIGGEST HIT “PLEASE MR. POSTMAN”

Please Mr. Postman became Motown’s first number one pop single when it was remastered and released by The Marvelettes in 1961. It also broke records at the time as it held the top slot for seven years on the R&B chart in the US.

We were all surprised when ‘Postman’ hit so big,” member Katherine Anderson told the group’s biographer, Marc Taylor. “The most surprised was Motown.”

“Motown became even more known once we hit with Please Mr. Postman.’ In my opinion, where Motown wanted to go. The Marvelettes came in and kicked the door open.”

THE MARVELETTES

Wanda was on backup but added vocals to Gladys Horton’s lead performance. The track was released on August 21 on Motown’s Tamla label. It took summer and autumn to climb the charts, but the Billboard summit surrendered to its charms that December. Gladys and Wanda had always shared lead singing duties, with Gladys singing the early hits and Wanda singing Smokey Robinson’s songs.

The Marvelettes officially disbanded in 1971 following the release of The Return of the Marvelettes, which was originally conceived as a Young solo album produced by Robinson. Young largely exited the music industry soon after, but briefly performed with a semi-reunited Marvelettes in 1989.