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The Contours

The Contours are widely remembered for their 1962 smash "Do You Love Me?," one of the early hits that helped put Motown on the map. Yet they aren't always associated with their contribution to the label; they were one of the roughest, hardest R&B groups Berry Gordy ever signed, and their sound simply didn't resemble the smooth, sophisticated blueprint that later became Motown's trademark. Nor did their stage presence; in contrast to the slick choreography and wardrobe of Motown's signature artists, the Contours were all wild, irrepressible energy, leaping and sliding all over the stage and even doing the splits. As a result, they fell out of favor once Motown got its crossover-friendly hit factory up and running, and never duplicated the success of their first hit.

Formed in Detroit in 1958, the Contours originally began life as a quartet called the Blenders. Lead singer Billy Gordon, Billy Hogg, Sylvester Potts, and Joe Billingslea were soon joined by Hubert Johnson, a cousin of the legendary Jackie Wilson, as well as guitarist Huey Davis. Changing their name to the Contours, the group landed an audition with Berry Gordy's fledgling Motown label. Gordy was not impressed and told them to try again in a year, and they enlisted Jackie Wilson's aid in honing their act. Wilson personally recommended the group to Gordy, who finally relented and signed them up in 1961. The Contours' first single "Whole Lotta Woman" sank without a trace, and Gordy nearly dropped them until Wilson once again interceded on their behalf. The move paid off handsomely when Gordy offered them a chance to cut "Do You Love Me?," a song originally intended for the Temptations, who couldn't quite nail down the rough and rowdy feel Gordy wanted. Released in 1962, "Do You Love Me?" zoomed straight to the top of the R&B charts in just a few short weeks, peaking at number three on the pop side.

Although the Contours were riding high thanks to their hit and their exciting live act, they found the momentum difficult to maintain. They were able to score a follow-up hit, "Shake Sherrie," in 1963, and ran off a string of R&B Top 40 singles over 1965-1966: "Can You Jerk Like Me?," the Top Ten "The Day When She Needed Me," the Smokey Robinson-penned "First I Look at the Purse," and "Just a Little Misunderstanding." Despite the often high quality of those singles, the Contours simply weren't getting the attention -- either from the label or the public -- that Motown's top stars were, and their sound was more of an anomaly at Hitsville than ever. By this time, the original quintet was no longer intact; new members included Joe Stubbs, brother of the Four Tops' Levi Stubbs, and Dennis Edwards, who went on to replace David Ruffin in the Temptations.

The Contours had their last charting single in 1967 with "It's So Hard Being a Loser"; Billingslea and Potts subsequently led versions of the group on the oldies circuit during the '70s and '80s. Sadly, Johnson committed suicide in 1981, and wasn't around to witness the 1988 revival of "Do You Love Me?" thanks to the wildly popular film Dirty Dancing. Billingslea, Potts, and their new cohorts hit the oldies circuit with renewed vigor, and also cut the album Running in Circles for U.K. Motown revivalist Ian Levine's Motorcity label in 1990. Stubbs passed away in 1998, and guitarist Davis did likewise in 2002. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Essential Collection

1. Do You Love Me

2. Shake Sherrie

3. You Get Ugly

4. Whole Lotta Woman

5. Don't Let Her Be Your Baby

7. It's So Hard Being A Loser

8. First I Look At The Purse

9. Just A Little Misunderstanding

10. Determination

11. Your Love Grows More Precious Everyday

12. Can You Do It

13. Can You Jerk Like Me

14. Searching For A Girl

15. The Stretch

16. So Grateful

17. You Better Get In Line

18. Move Mr. Man

Comments

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elliecupcake 2 0 1 5
I don't know I haven't seen you dance !! You knew from the start if you couldn't dance would be a deal breaker !!
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Yes I love you
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you don't have to prove to me that you can dance mimi
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I would love you if you didn't know how to dance mimi
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Yes
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great oldies music
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You could actually touch your dance partner..... T o d a y . . . I t ' s about waving your arms all over the place. WTF, I sez....
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NOW, this is some real music.....
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I miss Michael Jackson Tops in Pop /dancing
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Funny they never mention LEROY FAIR- ONE OF THE FIRST CONTOURS from Leroy Jackson.
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I would always have your back and support
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Yes
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just4dayna04 8
Why can't today's songs be awesome like this don't get me wrong I like some of them today and I wasn't even born in like the 90s or something I was just raised listening to oldes like these and stuff so I like these too a lot so thats why I say why can't today's song be more appropriate like these decades and all that
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The best groups that ever existed
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Great music compared to garbage these days
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Awesome song
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pamelascurti s
best song ever love the beat
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hell of a song - screw todays rubbish
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Yes
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Dirty Dancing brought this song back to me, and hearing it now brings back lots of memories, thank you Pandora.
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mylana1022
lol:D
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Great group wish we still had groups like them today..
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stop by:
↘️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️
➡️ david... radio ⬅️
↗️⬆️⬆️⬆️⬆️⬆️
50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s~
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Love who??
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mary7661
Pandora.... this is Sarah Brightman station... really??? The Contours?? Come on! They fit my Sweet Sounds station for sure but NOT SARAH BRIGHTMAN!! lol
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Makes you wanna dance
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Try Pokemon game
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I love you so
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davidvincent d
❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ i t
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davidvincent d
������������
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Yes
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Old school classic....n e v e r gets old!
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Can you mash potato, do the twist at the same time?
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Sweet
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Watch me now, work,work!!! ! !
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lol dirty dancing . Love that movie
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Old tunes are Flawless . ❤️❤️❤️
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dragonlady60 8 8
sock hops
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Love it when tiny toons made video with this song.
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"DO YOU LOVME"
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Yes
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cathy8034
Please get rid of the ad of OPRAH! It is ridiculous and annoying!
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oldgrandma3
I love old songs there so amazing
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mymusclesare b i g
Awesomely energetic!
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Do you love me
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Dirty Dancing!
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I love you more more more every dsy
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nrivers16
:-P:)
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I don't know anybody who doesn't like 'Do You Love Me?'. I think it's impossible not to like that song.
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kathleenbutl e r 9 2
Your good
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