Marv Johnson

Marv Johnson is the artist who performed on the first record ever to come from Motown, and he went on to put two songs in the top ten.

Born in 1938 in Detroit, Marv performed as a teenager with a group known as the Serenaders in the mid-50's. He managed to become a talented singer, songwriter and pianist. One day in the late 50's he was singing on a float in a carnival, and he was noticed by a young entrepreneur named Barry Gordy. Gordy offered him a recording session at his fledgling Motown Records, which at the time was only a production company. Johnson recorded Come To Me and when it was issued regionally on the Tamla label, it became Gordy's first record release. Eventually United Artists picked it up and by the Spring of 1959 it reached the top thirty nationally.

From 1959 to 1961, Marv Johnson put nine records in the top 100. Two in particular were big hits, and top ten records in the United States: You Got What It Takes and I Love The Way You Love. In late 1960 his final top forty hit in the US (You've Got To) Move Two Mountains reached the charts.

Johnson's records were also very popular in the United Kingdom, especially You Got What It Takes. It reached number five there and inspired a cover by the Dave Clark Five, who brought it back to the top ten in 1967. On many of his songs including his biggest hits, Marv Johnson was backed by a group of Motown singers known as the Rayber Voices. Johnson continued recording throughout the 60's.

Marv Johnson's recordings from 1959 and 1960 gave a preview of the Motown sound and the hits that were to pour out of Motown throughout the 60's. In the early 70's, he worked in sales and promotion for Motown.

Most Recent Update: December 5, 2004

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