Motown Songwriter and Producer Lamont Dozier Has Died At 81

The legendary Detroit-born songwriter Lamont Dozier, and member of production trio Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote countless hits on Motown Records.

Fans of Motown Records are mourning after the passing of legendary singer-songwriter and producer Lamont Dozier. The Holland-Dozier-Holland member was confirmed to be deceased in an Instagram post on Tuesday (August 9) by his son, Lamont Dozier Jr. The Motown icon was 81-years-old.

“Rest in Heavenly Peace, Dad!” the caption read, with Dozier Jr. photographed alongside his father, although cause of death is unknown.

Born on June 16, 1941 in Detroit, Michigan, Dozier attended Hutchins Junior High with the late Aretha Franklin decades before he co-produced and co-wrote her 1977 album Sweet Passion. While attending school, Dozier was commissioned by fellow male schoolmates to write love and apology letters to their girlfriends for 25 cents apiece, prompting the budding artist to write love songs. At fifteen-years-old, Dozier dropped out of school to become a member of vocal group The Romeos, which were briefly on Atlantic Records before disbanding.

Per his 2019 autobiography How Sweet It Is: A Songwriter’s Reflections on Music, Motown and the Mystery of the Muse, Dozier was approached by Motown founder Berry Gordy in the 1950s, where he signed and became a pioneering songwriter on the label. As part of songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland with brothers Brian and Eddie Holland, Dozier’s songwriting genius is behind countless Hitsville U.S.A. classic. Creating the “Motown sound,” the trio’s catalog features ten No. 1 hits for The Supremes including 1964’s “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.”

Collaborating on over 200 songs during their career, the trio wrote for acts including The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, The Isley Brothers, The Miracles, Martha and The Vandellas, Dionne Warwick and more.

In 1973, Dozier left the group to embark on a solo career, releasing his debut album Out Here on My Own. Releasing twelve albums during his life, Dozier also contributed to the likes of Aretha Franklin, Odyssey and later Phil Collins, collaborating with the English musician on 1988 track “Two Hearts” for ’80s romantic comedy Buster. The song would go on to win a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television in 1989.

In 1990, Holland-Dozier-Holland were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Dozier was survived by his six children. His late wife, Barbara Ullman Dozier, died in 2021.

Read tributes to Lamont Dozier below.

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

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