Motown legend Lamont Dozier dead at 81: He wrote hits for Supremes, Four Tops

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He was one of the architects of a genre.

Motown legend Lamont Dozier — the singer-songwriter-producer mastermind behind iconic hits such as “Baby Love” and “Two Hearts” — has died at age 81. The music icon’s passing was confirmed in a Tuesday Instagram post by his son Lamont Dozier Jr.

“Rest in Heavenly Peace, Dad!” Dozier’s bereaved progeny wrote in the post along with a picture of himself and his late father, who’s cause of death is not known at this time.

Motown icon Lamont Dozier, who crafted such iconic hits as "Baby Love" and "Two Hearts," has died at 81.
Motown icon Lamont Dozier, who crafted such iconic hits as “Baby Love” and “Two Hearts,” has died at 81.
WireImage for The Recording Academy

Born in 1941 in Detroit, Michigan, the pioneering songwriter first gained acclaim after joining the legendary Motown Records in 1962 along with songwriting brothers Brian and Eddie Holland. Together, they helped create Detroit’s signature “Motown sound.”

The “Motown musketeers” collaborated on more than 200 songs during their illustrious career, writing career-making singles for such iconic bands as the Four Tops, the Supremes and the Isley Brothers.

Lamont Dozier attends Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration at Microsoft Theater on February 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Lamont Dozier attends “Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration” at Microsoft Theater on Feb. 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The show later aired on ABC.
Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Holland-Dozier-Holland’s greatest hits included “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” and other genre-defining songs.


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“We were as surprised as anybody else when we came up with so many songs,” Dozier told the the Guardian in a 2015 interview.

He said the trio would often arrive at the studio at 9 am and work until 3 am, cranking out song after song, which took anywhere from 15 minutes to 15 days.

Hoping to create positive tunes to contrast the dark times, the Motown masterminds are known for combining dark lyrics with a paradoxically upbeat tempo.

Legendary Motown songwriting team from left: Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland, and Brian Holland.
Lamont Dozier (from left), Eddie Holland and Brian Holland formed a legendary Motown songwriting team.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

They also created songs that were surprisingly empathetic towards women during a decidedly sexist epoch. “Women bought the records, to put it bluntly,” said Dozier, explaining their feminist bent to the Guardian. “They wanted music that talked about their feelings, but also … women raised me.”

He added, “My father wasn’t around, and I was brought up by my grandmother. I trusted women, and I still do. I have women running my business.”

Holland-Dozier-Holland amassed a host of accolades during their storied career, notably getting inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.


(L-R) Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, Valerie Simpson, William 'Mickey' Stevenson, and Smokey Robinson appear onstage during Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration at Microsoft Theater on February 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
(From left) Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, Valerie Simpson, William “Mickey” Stevenson and Smokey Robinson appear onstage during “Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration” at Microsoft Theater on Feb. 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Getty Images for The Recording Academy

In 1973, Dozier broke away from the Holland brothers to embark on a successful solo career. He notably collaborated with Phil Collins on the song “Two Hearts” for the soundtrack to the 1988 film “Buster,” which topped the charts and garnered them a Grammy award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television in 1989.

Dozier was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
Dozier was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
Getty Images

The music world was devastated by the icon’s loss.

“God bless Lamont,” tweeted Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones, who covered HDH’s 1963 single “Leaving Home” in 2001. “His music will live on.”



Grammy-winning recording artist Brandon Williams also paid tribute to the deceased musician, writing: “Another man that sat down and taught me a lot about music is gone. The great Lamont Dozier.”

“I’ll never forget meeting and working with him along with the Holland Brothers in 2006,” he added. “Thank you for all you did for me and for the world at large. You definitely made this place better.”

Dozier is survived by his wife, Barbara Ullman Dozier, and his six children.