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  1. #1

    HDH Departure - Good or Bad?

    I am curious as to what people think whether the departure of HDH was good or bad for Motown. I remember being shocked when they left as I was all about Motown and and all about HDH. I am doing this from memory but I seem to recall that Motown was in a dry period right after their departure. But in 1969 and 1970, there seemed to be a significant resurgence with other in house writers and producers filling the void. In fact, I believe Motown had 5 of the Top Ten singles at the end of 1969.

    It seems that the real slow decline of Motown started with the move to California and that the in house talent filled the void left with HDH leaving up to that point. In fact, while I enjoyed their Invictus/Hot Wax work, to me, it never was at the level of their Motown work.

    So, I guess, in hindsight, I still wish they had not left butI think their departure was good and allowed other talent to shine.

  2. #2
    Obviously the split was bad for specific artists like the Four Tops. MRATV struggled too but Martha's mental breakdowns and drugs surely played some part in that too.

    Their final productions at motown certainly didn't live up to standards - Forever Came Today for the Supremes and I'm In A Different World for the Tops. It's quite possible that their creative reign was coming to an end. by 68 the musical scene was VERY different than what it was in 65 or 66. it's a mystery as to whether or not they would have adapted.

    Everything has a lifespan. perhaps HDH was naturally coming to the end of theirs and would have needed some fresh thoughts and sounds. with Norman Whitfield on the rise, Frank Wilson, Johnny Bristol and others, who knows.

    It doesn't seem to me that their Invictus output was all that ground breaking. of course they were a new label and just trying to get hits and cash. so many they weren't experimenting too much.

  3. #3
    I say the departure of Holland-Dozier-Holland was bad for Motown (although the label still had a stong roster of writer/producers who took up the slack after they left).

    However, I'm a big fan of the early '70s work HDH did at their own labels after the departure. For me it bridges the gap between Classic '60s Motown and the coming sounds of the '70s.

    We can only wonder what the team could've done if they had stayed with Motown and received the creative control (and money) that they wanted.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by mofreaktown View Post
    I am curious as to what people think whether the departure of HDH was good or bad for Motown. I remember being shocked when they left as I was all about Motown and and all about HDH. I am doing this from memory but I seem to recall that Motown was in a dry period right after their departure. But in 1969 and 1970, there seemed to be a significant resurgence with other in house writers and producers filling the void. In fact, I believe Motown had 5 of the Top Ten singles at the end of 1969.

    It seems that the real slow decline of Motown started with the move to California and that the in house talent filled the void left with HDH leaving up to that point. In fact, while I enjoyed their Invictus/Hot Wax work, to me, it never was at the level of their Motown work.

    So, I guess, in hindsight, I still wish they had not left butI think their departure was good and allowed other talent to shine.
    It was good for HDH (at the time) and bad for Motown. By the way, it was late '68, early '69 when Motown had 5 of the Top 10 singles on the Billboard Chart.

  5. #5
    I could never think the departure was a good thing.

    But the fact is that Motown recovered quite quickly and quite well; their best selling year was 1970.

    And HDH might have peaked and started a bit of a downward slide; while the Four Tops, in particular, might have never regained their stride, HDH didnít do a lot of remarkable work after leaving Motown

  6. #6
    It was a good thing. We might never had otherwise have had the Four Tops *Do What You Gotta Do"

  7. #7
    This is a very thought provoking question. I couldn't answer it right away, I had to mull it over. Many people wonder about this situation, but I believe we can't see the forest for the trees when the reasons and assumptions are provided. Here's my viewpoint:

    HDH's departure was good and bad for the trio and the company. It was good on one hand for the guys because they got a chance to stretch creatively and on their terms. It was bad for Motown because HDH contributed so much to it and was responsible for a lot of it's success. But by 1967, they began to peak as they worked within the parameters of what a Motown record should sound like and a change was needed. As the sales of their productions started to recede they started to become somewhat of a financial burden than an asset so maybe it was good too. HDH had their own label and freedom which is good, but couldn't focus much on writing new material for it's acts due to running Invictus, which was bad. So it was good and bad on both sides.

    I'm going to say like I always do that HDH's defection was a big loss(maybe), but it started with Mickey Stevenson leaving in 1966. To me that loss was just as big if not bigger because of how he kept everything in order and finding the best talent and bringing them to the company. It just seemed like after that the the team spirit was gone and the quality of the songs started to go down. HDH was just the last of Dream Team to exit, but the damage was already done. What stilled the continuous success in Detroit was damn near all of the early members of the family getting out except Smokey, not just HDH moving away. Though Motown was still a major player in the industry, it wasn't the innovative player it once was when the first family ran the machine.

    What made California a failure was B.G.'s lack of interest in selling records and the disposal of Quality Control. Billie Jean and the QC team were very conservative and played no games with releasing the quintessential songs. In L.A. whatever they felt sounded good got released, whomever they felt was talented got a recording deal. Invictus failed because no standards were placed on the production staff and HDH went to major labels for distribution as opposed to doing it all themselves as their mentor did. When you take someone else's money they're a partner and the fellas didn't get that. As a result they got the shorter end of the stick financially and couldn't really make a profit from the hits they did get. I'll end it here....

  8. #8
    HDH's departure caused a lasting damage to Motown that they never recovered from. It's true Motown had five singles in the top 10 in late 1968, but that doesn't mean the company ever regained what they lost. Motown had an incredible roster of songwriters/producers who stepped up to the plate after HDH left, but none of them ever filled HDH's shoes or ever came close to the catalog and hit-making power that HDH had. HDH suffered too when they left. On their own they created some incredible songs for Invictus/Hot Wax, but I think the fact they were running a record label kept them for creating songs of high quality. It kept them from doing what they loved. You can get a sense of the direction they were planning to go in their 1967 Motown recordings. Songs like "I'm In A Different World," "Forever Came Today," "Reflections," and even the production/arrangement of Chuck Jackson's "Helpless" showed a mature soul sound. A sophisticated, complex sound that were taking them to another level, but their departure stopped that next climb.

  9. #9
    One more thing......
    As HDH was planning to leave Motown, Smokey tried to convince Brian Holland to stay and let Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier go. This was a shortsighted effort to salvage something to me.

    From my observation it seems that Brian gets more credit as a "Genius" on the production side and Lamont is made to sound like someone who was kinda just....."there". Lamont played just as much of an equal role in the trio as Brian did and without him we wouldn't be singing along to many of the songs that we obviously can. Just because Brian could come up with a great melody doesn't mean that Lamont couldn't add something to it to make it a killer melody. Just because Brian could provide a musical backdrop doesn't mean that any songwriter can pen a tune at the same level that Eddie did to go with it. It was a unit,if you take something away it changes the axis. All the elements had to be there in order for it to work.

    Lamont survived after leaving the Holland brothers, but Brian couldn't seem to keep the ship righted without him. The melodies remained strong, but Lamont's absence was still felt very strongly despite liking what you heard. He got stronger as time went on, the Holland's went back to Motown out of desperation which Lamont didn't need to do. I just feel that many didn't see what was obvious with these guys. I'm talking too much again....

  10. #10
    Can someone break down what was each of the members of HDH's expertise? Who specialized at what?

    Along with the actual final production sound, I was always amazed at the chord combinations of the compositions. They (or one of them) were able to arrange basic chords in unique progressions which served as a canvas for those melodies. I find, as a composer, that coming up with a chord pattern is first. Some writers have a melody first. Some have a rhythmic pattern first.

    To the original question. I feel HDH were musically going in a more creative and innovative direction than what the general public was expecting from Motown. As mentioned before, songs like "7 Rooms of Gloom," "Reflections" (which did well), "I'm in a Different World, "Forever Came Today," "You Keep Running Away,", etc. were all excellent productions musically; however, it was not what the public wanted to hear. It was too sophisticated. In my opinion, their quality of musical output with Invictus was a step back production wise. There was not a freshness about it. But I do salute HDH for inspiring me and others over the years.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    Can someone break down what was each of the members of HDH's expertise? Who specialized at what?

    Along with the actual final production sound, I was always amazed at the chord combinations of the compositions. They (or one of them) were able to arrange basic chords in unique progressions which served as a canvas for those melodies. I find, as a composer, that coming up with a chord pattern is first. Some writers have a melody first. Some have a rhythmic pattern first.

    To the original question. I feel HDH were musically going in a more creative and innovative direction than what the general public was expecting from Motown. As mentioned before, songs like "7 Rooms of Gloom," "Reflections" (which did well), "I'm in a Different World, "Forever Came Today," "You Keep Running Away,", etc. were all excellent productions musically; however, it was not what the public wanted to hear. It was too sophisticated. In my opinion, their quality of musical output with Invictus was a step back production wise. There was not a freshness about it. But I do salute HDH for inspiring me and others over the years.
    Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier on production and Eddie Holland on the lyrics. Usually it depended on who was on the piano at a particular time on the production side Jobu. If one saw the other working on an idea they would offer suggestions on how something could be improved or expanded. Then at other times Brian might have the melody for an entire song and Lamont would just arrange the background vocals and help Eddie out with the lyrics or offer a lyric suggestion. Then at other times Lamont might have the entire song from beginning to end like "Road Runner", it could go any way at any time.Brian and Eddie's duties were pretty concrete and set,Lamont was more the chameleon in the trio in that he could get in anywhere.Whatever was needed at anytime he could provide that.

    As far as cutting the tracks with The Funk Brothers,Brian was more the leader there. He and Lamont would go over the basic arrangement with the band,Lamont spending the most time with James Jamerson on bass and Brian devoting most of his time to Benny Benjamin on the drums.Once they got everything together Brian would count the tune off and call the shots from the control room with the assistance of Lamont.Once the tracks were done they would drop the tapes off on Eddie's desk and he would write lyrics to the ones that he felt strongly about.Some tracks he refused to write for(I think "True Fine Boy" fell victim to this). Once Lamont got the lyrical arrangements he would create the backgrounds and they would teach the singers from there. Occasionally Eddie would make a demo if he had the time,but this is how it usually went.

  12. #12
    But Motown anyway was changing. HDH had more than done their bit for The Motown Sound yet their later product wasn't their best as far as Motown goes. Berry Gordy had many more resources to keep on producing hits with a different sound. Norman Whitfield was coming into his own and Ashford and Simpson took it to a new level. Marvin and Stevie were developing tremendously. Then the newer signings came on board like J5 , Commodores and Lionel Richie. There was no shortage of hits and Motown never stood still. True it would have been good to have the hits from Freda Payne and Chairmen of the Board on Motown but overall Motown evolved well anyway. It couldn't stay the same and I think HDH departure quickened the pace of change and in a good way for Motown.

  13. #13
    Let us not forget the spark plug for the success after HDH. Harry Balk.

  14. #14
    If forced to choose, I guess I'd pick 'bad'. But perhaps necessary. In any form of popular music, times and tastes change rapidly so sometimes shake-ups are necessary. My own opinion of the HDH split has always been 'and so it goes'; we all (well, most of us ... ) move on, and for different reasons. It's a necessary part of living a fully explored life.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by bradsupremes View Post
    HDH's departure caused a lasting damage to Motown that they never recovered from. It's true Motown had five singles in the top 10 in late 1968, but that doesn't mean the company ever regained what they lost. Motown had an incredible roster of songwriters/producers who stepped up to the plate after HDH left, but none of them ever filled HDH's shoes or ever came close to the catalog and hit-making power that HDH had. HDH suffered too when they left. On their own they created some incredible songs for Invictus/Hot Wax, but I think the fact they were running a record label kept them for creating songs of high quality. It kept them from doing what they loved. You can get a sense of the direction they were planning to go in their 1967 Motown recordings. Songs like "I'm In A Different World," "Forever Came Today," "Reflections," and even the production/arrangement of Chuck Jackson's "Helpless" showed a mature soul sound. A sophisticated, complex sound that were taking them to another level, but their departure stopped that next climb.
    but would they have been able to retain their reign in 68 and 69? black music was changing rapidly. frankly all of music was. everything has it's time and place. it's quite possible that the flame was fading on HDH by the time they did Forever and Diff World. of course they'd still be able to produce some major records but i wonder if their non-stop streak was over anyway

    Their last work with the supremes shows that they were not really making the major impact they once did. In and Out of Love was a weak production that crept to top 10. Forever is a fascinating song but way to complex to be a single.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn View Post
    Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier on production and Eddie Holland on the lyrics. Usually it depended on who was on the piano at a particular time on the production side Jobu. If one saw the other working on an idea they would offer suggestions on how something could be improved or expanded. Then at other times Brian might have the melody for an entire song and Lamont would just arrange the background vocals and help Eddie out with the lyrics or offer a lyric suggestion. Then at other times Lamont might have the entire song from beginning to end like "Road Runner", it could go any way at any time.Brian and Eddie's duties were pretty concrete and set,Lamont was more the chameleon in the trio in that he could get in anywhere.Whatever was needed at anytime he could provide that.

    As far as cutting the tracks with The Funk Brothers,Brian was more the leader there. He and Lamont would go over the basic arrangement with the band,Lamont spending the most time with James Jamerson on bass and Brian devoting most of his time to Benny Benjamin on the drums.Once they got everything together Brian would count the tune off and call the shots from the control room with the assistance of Lamont.Once the tracks were done they would drop the tapes off on Eddie's desk and he would write lyrics to the ones that he felt strongly about.Some tracks he refused to write for(I think "True Fine Boy" fell victim to this). Once Lamont got the lyrical arrangements he would create the backgrounds and they would teach the singers from there. Occasionally Eddie would make a demo if he had the time,but this is how it usually went.
    Thank you, so much, Quinn, for this insight. It seems similar to the case of what came first: the chicken or the egg. I would have thought that the grove/backing track would have come first in most situations; however, in their collaboration, that apparently was not always the case. I've noticed that I see Eddie's name listed along as collaborating with other writers more than seeing Lamont and Brian's name. Often I can hear the HDH influence in those particular productions.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by mofreaktown View Post
    I am curious as to what people think whether the departure of HDH was good or bad for Motown. I remember being shocked when they left as I was all about Motown and and all about HDH. I am doing this from memory but I seem to recall that Motown was in a dry period right after their departure. But in 1969 and 1970, there seemed to be a significant resurgence with other in house writers and producers filling the void. In fact, I believe Motown had 5 of the Top Ten singles at the end of 1969.

    It seems that the real slow decline of Motown started with the move to California and that the in house talent filled the void left with HDH leaving up to that point. In fact, while I enjoyed their Invictus/Hot Wax work, to me, it never was at the level of their Motown work.

    So, I guess, in hindsight, I still wish they had not left butI think their departure was good and allowed other talent to shine.
    Bad. The hits weren't as frequent when they left. Now Stevie and Marvin eventually grew and took control of their own writing and production. But they wrote hits or practically the whole label. Supremes, 4 Tops, Martha and the Vandellas. Even Eddie Holland wrote 4 of the Tempts hits in their 1966-1967 run.

  18. #18
    the chart rankings might have gone down but sales went up

    Grapevine - for both Marvin and Gladys
    Love Child, Someday and I'm Gonna Make - all huge non HDH hits that sold more than the HDH hits
    Temps and their big hits with psychedelic soul - no HDH
    J5 - no HDH
    Stevie - For Once in My life, My Cherie
    Diana solo material
    70s Sup - Stoned Love outsold most of the HDH 60s hits too, even though it didn't go #1

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn View Post
    One more thing......
    As HDH was planning to leave Motown, Smokey tried to convince Brian Holland to stay and let Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier go. This was a shortsighted effort to salvage something to me.

    From my observation it seems that Brian gets more credit as a "Genius" on the production side and Lamont is made to sound like someone who was kinda just....."there". Lamont played just as much of an equal role in the trio as Brian did and without him we wouldn't be singing along to many of the songs that we obviously can. Just because Brian could come up with a great melody doesn't mean that Lamont couldn't add something to it to make it a killer melody. Just because Brian could provide a musical backdrop doesn't mean that any songwriter can pen a tune at the same level that Eddie did to go with it. It was a unit,if you take something away it changes the axis. All the elements had to be there in order for it to work.

    Lamont survived after leaving the Holland brothers, but Brian couldn't seem to keep the ship righted without him. The melodies remained strong, but Lamont's absence was still felt very strongly despite liking what you heard. He got stronger as time went on, the Holland's went back to Motown out of desperation which Lamont didn't need to do. I just feel that many didn't see what was obvious with these guys. I'm talking too much again....
    in my opinion, the downfall of HDH...is when they entrianed themselves in Motown business...i.e eddie-artist & repertoire & brian-quality control...

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by mysterysinger View Post
    It was a good thing. We might never had otherwise have had the Four Tops *Do What You Gotta Do"
    Good point!

    And we might not have got "Why Can't We Be Lovers?" either.

    I suspect that time was passing, artists were maturing and the world was changing.

    It might therefore be that the retention of HDH might not have been that different to their departure.

    Sure, the details of who recorded what and when might have been a little different but would the overall impact on pop and soul have been significantly different in a world where Barry White, Gamble and Huff, Thom Bell, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Marvin, Stevie, The Isleys, the J5, War, Kool and The Gang etc. were all waiting to turn things upside down?

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by dvus7 View Post
    in my opinion, the downfall of HDH...is when they entrianed themselves in Motown business...i.e eddie-artist & repertoire & brian-quality control...
    It was Berry Gordy's fault though. He thought that if he gave them superior positions within the company then he wouldn't have to let them in on the real wealth that the company was acquiring. Paying a great salary is more cost efficient compared to allowing someone to own publishing. He gave himself a headache by doing all he could to satisfy them in paying as little as possible as opposed to just letting them in on the action a bit.He found good ways to do wrong instead of just doing the right thing and it cost the company.They never would've thought about A&R or Quality Control if they felt that they were being compensated fairly. Mickey Stevenson's job would never be threatened and all the folks that left or had issues with the company afterward would remain.That was the loss that got the ball rolling downward and when you couple that with B.G. spending more time in L.A. and artists being frustrated in dealing with other people it gets ugly. B.G. should've dealt with the real issues head on and had a much longer go even when the company relocated.All the monsters would've been out there with him.....creative and well paid!.
    Last edited by Quinn; 06-15-2019 at 03:43 PM.

  22. #22
    I'm really looking forward to the book that H-D-H has coming out later this year so we can get their view on what happened after they left Motown & setting up Invictus/Hot Wax.

  23. #23
    Great thread. I had never really considered HDH's departure to be anything other than bad for Motown, but reading all these posts, I can see/understand otherwise. Interesting stuff!!

  24. #24
    Its was good for HDH in my mind because Motown would have never released "Band Of Gold", or songs like "Stick Up" , or "Rip Off". Motown was trying to figure out where to go next and didn't have a good direction. It was creativity like that which made Motown nervous I think.
    Now Motown would have been better off to keep HDH and allow them some freedom but Motown needed to break out of that shell as well.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by captainjames View Post
    Its was good for HDH in my mind because Motown would have never released "Band Of Gold", or songs like "Stick Up" , or "Rip Off". Motown was trying to figure out where to go next and didn't have a good direction. It was creativity like that which made Motown nervous I think.
    Now Motown would have been better off to keep HDH and allow them some freedom but Motown needed to break out of that shell as well.
    I agree, although do we know for sure that Motown would never have recorded and released their later material, but regardless glad they got to spread their wings and empower their own talents, and I will be forever grateful for ONE MONKEY DON"T STOP NO SHOW as I listen to the full version while typing this



  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    I'm really looking forward to the book that H-D-H has coming out later this year so we can get their view on what happened after they left Motown & setting up Invictus/Hot Wax.
    What book?? Lamont Dozeir???

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