R.I.P. Harvey Fuqua

Famed singer, producer and talent scout Harvey Fuqua died yesterday at a Detroit hospital from a heart problem. Fuqua’s career started in 1951 when he formed the doo-wop group The Crazy Sounds with his fellow Louisville, Kentucky natives Bobby Lester, Alexander Graves and Prentiss Barnes. Under the tutelage of disc jockey Alan Freed they were renamed the Moonglows and their first releases came out on Freed’s Chamapagne label in 1953. By 1954 the group was signed to Chess records and had a number one hit with “Sincerely” and a series of other charting songs including “We Go Together,” “See Saw,” “When I’m With You,” “Please Send Me Someone To Love” and “Ten Commandments Of Love.”

In 1957 Fuqua replaced the original members with The Marquees lineup from Washington D.C. that included a young Marvin Gaye. Fuqua also recorded the popular duets “If I Can’t Have You” and “Spoonful” with onetime girlfriend Etta James while he was on the label but in 1958 he left Chess and the group behind to go to Detroit. He took Gaye with to Detroit and ended up working with Anna Gordy, Lamont Dozier, Johnny Bristol and Billy Davis. He married Gwen Gordy and introduced Gaye to Berry Gordy. His record labels Tri-Phi and Harvey were started in 1961 and he signed The Spinners, Junior Walker and Shorty Long. Berry Gordy was impressed with Fuqua’s talent and drive soon offering him the job as head of the Artist Development department at Motown. Fuqua is credited with bringing The Spinners, Johnny Bristol and Tammi Terrell to the label who’s duets with Marvin Gaye he suggested and co-produced. When 1971 came Fuqua left Motown and got a production deal with RCA Records. The New Birth who became popular with their cover of Bobby Womack’s “I Can Understand It” and “K-Jee” which would be famously covered for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack were signed to Fuqua’s talent agency and RCA. Later in the ’70’s he became a talent scout for Fantasy Records and discovered disco soul queen Sylvester. Fuqua co-produced all of Sylvester’s albums while he was signed to Fantasy including his trademark single “You Make Me Feel (Might Real)” and “Dance (Disco Heat.)” In 1982 he would reunite with Marvin Gaye to produce his comeback album Midnight Love that contained the big hit “Sexual Healing.” Gaye referred to Fuqua as his “surrogate father” and told writer David Ritz that he saved his life. The Moonglows were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Fuqua is the nephew of Charlie Fuqua of the pioneering vocal group The Ink Spots and he is the uncle of Antoine Fuqua, the director of Training Day that earned Denzel Washington his second Academy Award.