December 31, 2011 by staff
Gladys Horton, Gladys Catherine Horton (May 30, 1945 – January 26, 2011) was an American R&B and pop singer, famous for being the founder and lead singer of the popular Motown all-female vocal group The Marvelettes.
Born in Gainesville, Florida, she was raised in the western Detroit suburb of Inkster by foster parents. By the time of her high school years at Inkster High School on Middlebelt Road, Gladys had taken a strong interest in singing, joining the high school glee club. In 1960 the fifteen-year-old formed a group with fellow glee club members Georgeanna Tillman, Katherine Anderson and Juanita Cowart. She also invited Georgia Dobbins to join her new group.
Formerly calling themselves The Casinyets (can’t sing yet), the group eventually auditioned for Motown after a talent contest, and while the audition was successful, the group was requested to return to Hitsville with an original song. After member Georgia Dobbins co-created the song “Please Mr. Postman”, Dobbins suddenly left the group after her father forbade her to be in nightclubs. Dobbins, who was also the group’s original lead singer, gave Horton the spotlight to be the lead vocalist, a spot Horton was not comfortable with in the beginning. The group changed their name to the Marvelettes shortly after Motown signed the act and released “Please Mr. Postman” in the summer of 1961 when Horton was just sixteen.
The single eventually hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 – becoming Motown’s first #1 Pop hit – and turning the group into instant Motown stars. Horton would later sing lead on Marvelettes’ classics such as “Pl**yboy”, “Beechwood 4-5789″ and “Too Many Fish in the Sea”. Horton’s position as lead vocalist ended in 1965 with Wanda Young, who had replaced Dobbins, taking over from then on as lead vocalist. Horton left the group in 1967 and was replaced by Cleveland, Ohio vocalist Anne Bogan.
In the late 1980s, Horton and Wanda Young Rogers reunited to collaborate on the 1990 Marvelettes album for Ian Levine’s Motor City Records label titled The Marvelettes…Now! though Young didn’t take part in the group’s performances. The Marvelettes released the single “Holding On With Both Hands” in 1990, which was sung on record by Wanda but performed by Gladys in public due to Wanda’s severe personal problems, described by Marc Taylor in the book, The Original Marvelettes – Motown’s Mystery Girl Group, published in 2004 by Aloiv Publishing Company, New York.
Gladys and former Marvelette, Katherine Anderson were involved with Marc Taylor’s official biography of the group. She remained semi-retired from the business to take care of her disabled son; however, she still performed on occasion as “Gladys Horton of the Marvelettes”. She had resided in southern California since the early 1970s.
Horton died at age 65 on January 26, 2011 at a nursing home in Sherman Oaks, California following several strokes.
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