The Contours were one of the great R&B groups from Motown. They had one big hit in the early 60's, one that was to return to the charts a couple of more times over the years.
The group started as a quartet in Detroit in 1958, with orginal members Billy Gordon, Sylvester Potts, Billy Hoggs and Joe Billingslea. When Hubert Johnson later joined, they became a quintet. Johnson's cousin was established entertainer Jackie Wilson. Although Wilson was not a Motown recording artist, he knew Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. and had recordeed some songs written by Gordy and turned them into hits. Wilson arranged an audition for the group at Motown.
Their initial recordings for Motown went nowhere, but Jackie Wilson was persistent and arranged for the Contours to get another chance. The group added guitarist Huey Davis and recorded a song written by Berry Gordy, Jr. titled Do You Love Me. The record was a sensation, rising to the top of the R&B chart and to #3 pop. The song was later covered by British groups Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, who had a hit with it in the UK, and the Dave Clark Five who hit not only in the UK but the United States as well. Do You Love Me became a rock and roll classic.
From 1962 to 1967 the Contours reached the top forty seven times, but all of these were on the R&B chart, with songs such as First I Look At The Purse and Just A Little Misunderstanding. The latter was the group's sole top forty entry in the UK, in 1970. The group continued recording throughout the 70's, with some inevitable personnel changes.
The Contours had some links to other memorable Motown aritsts of the 60's. Dennis Edwards, a member in 1967, joined the Temptations the following year. Joe Stubbs, whose brother Levi Stubbs was a mainstay with the Four Topps, was a member of the Contours at one time. Billy Gordon was married to Georgeanna Tillman of the Marvelettes. Hubert Johnson, whose cousin Jackie Wilson had helped the group so much in the early days, passed away in 1981.
In 1988 the Contours' hit Do You Love Me was featured in the motion picture Dirty Dancing, and a reissue of the record returned to the pop chart once again, rising to #11. The group certainly left its mark.
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