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bullet Dick Rietveld, Deep River Quartet
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Moonglows Harvey Fuqua Tribute


Harvey Fuqua, legendary lead singer of the Moonglows and a key figure in American R&B music passed away in a Detroit hospital on July 6, 2010 at the age of 80.  In that the Moonglows were one of the greatest R&B groups of all time, Harvey's place in music history would be assured by that alone.  Yet Harvey Fuqua contributed so much more to R&B music as a producer, arranger, and label owner that his music career behind the scenes even surpassed his success at the microphone.  It was Harvey Fuqua who introduced the world to such artists as Marvin Gaye, the Spinners, Junior Walker, David Ruffin, New Birth, Slyvester and countless others.  Much has been written about the Moonglows and somewhat less about Harvey's career at Motown.  This tribute will try to put his entire career in perspective.

The Moonglows: Harvey Fuqua upper left
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

Harvey Fuqua was born in Louisville, KY, on July 27, 1929.  His first cousin was Charlie Fuqua, famed baritone and guitarist of the Ink Spots.  After a stint in the service, Harvey teamed with former high school friend Robert Lester Dallas (stage named "Bobby Lester") to perform in Louisville as a duet in 1949.

By the early 1950's Harvey had moved to Cleveland, OH, where he formed a trio with Danny Coggins and Prentiss Barnes.  The three began singing close harmony and jazz.  The name they chose for themselves was the Crazy Sounds.  As the three became more serious about performing, Hravey invited Bobby Lester to leave Louisville and join them as a quartet.

In late 1952, the Crazy Sounds auditioned for WJW dee jay, Alan ("Moondog") Freed, who took the group under his wing.  At first, Freed wanted to change the group's name to the Moon Puppies but the group insisted on the Moonglows.

The Moonglows first recording was "I Just can't Tell No Lie".  Harvey did the lead with Bobby Lester doing the bridge.  The record came out in 1953 on the Champagne label, a label Alan Freed started to record the group.  With Freed giving the record airplay, it sold locally but a disappointed Danny Coggins left the group.  He was replaced by Alexander "Pete" Walton who often used the stage name Alexander or Pete Graves.

By the summer of 1953, the Moonglows had signed with the Chance label.  The Moonglows had five records released on Chance between October 1953 and September 1954.  Though the group's Chance recordings are bluesier and have a rougher edge than the Moonglows' later material, all the Chance recordings are highly sought after by collectors.  Harvey sang lead on "Baby Please," "Just A Lonely Christmas," "Real Gone Mama," "I Was Wrong," "My Gal," and "219 Train."

(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)


By the Fall of 1954, Alan Freed had moved to New York City radio.  He arranged for the Moonglows to begin recording for the Chess label.  The Moonglows first Chess release was "Sincerely," a song written by Harvey Fuqua but led by Bobby Lester.  The song reached #1 on the R&B Charts and #20 on the Pop Charts.  A cover of the song by the McGuire Sisters went to #1 on the Pop Charts.

"Sincerely" sheet music
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

At about the same time as "Sincerely" was released, the Chess label hedged its bet and released "Shoo Doo Be Doo" (led by Harvey) by the group on its Checker subsidiary as by the Moonlighters.

The Moonglows moonlighting as the Moonlighters
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

From a 1957 magazine article
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

The Moonglows second Chess release, "Most of All" (Bobby Lester lead) also hit big, reaching #5 on the R&B Charts.

(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

A string of great R&B group sounds followed, including "Foolish Me," "Starlight," "In My Diary and "When I'm With You."  These all featured Bobby Lester on lead.  Harvey and Bobby did a duel lead on "We Go Together" and Harvey led the up-tempo "See Saw." 

The Moonglows on stage.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

The Moonglows benefited from frequent invitations to perform on Alan Freed stage shows and week long appearances at NYC's Apollo Theater.  Billy Johnson was added to the group as guitarist.

Moonglows: (Top, left to right) Harvey Fuqua, Bobby Lester, Prentiss Barnes,
Pete Graves.  (Bottom) Billy Johnson

Another original Moonglows photo from the Classic Urban Harmony Archives.
(Top. left to right: Prentiss Barnes, Bobby Lester,Pete Graves, Harvey Fuqua.
Bottom: Billy Johnson)

The Moonglows association with Alan Freed benefited the group in other ways.  The group got to appear in the motion picture Rock Rock Rock singing "Over And Over Again" and "I Knew From The Start."  Bobby Lester led both.  To watch either on YouTube, click below.



Moonglows' photo autographed by Harvey Fuqua
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

In February 1957, the Moonglows joined the "Biggest Show Of Stars for 1957" tour that crossed the United States and Canada for almost three months.  Also on the tour were the Five Keys, Five Satins, Lavern Baker, Clyde McPhatter, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Charles Brown, the Schoolboys and others.

Original copy of the program book, 1957.
Moonglows photo, bottom center.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

In 1958, the Moonglows released one of their most recognizable hits.  "The Ten Commandments of Love," led by Harvey Fuqua, was issued as by "Harvey & the Moonglows," perhaps indicating trouble within the original group.

(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)


By the beginning of 1959, the original Moonglows broke up.  Harvey recruited members of the Marquees, from Washington, DC, to be the new Moonglows.  The Marquees, who had previously recorded for the Okeh label, consisted of Reese Palmer, Marvin Gaye, James Nolan and Chester Simmons.  [Reese Palmer still has a Marquees group.  To visit their website, see our Links Page.]  In addition, Harvey added former Dells' bass, Chuck Barksdale as bass.

In 1959, Harvey and his new Moonglows group recorded "Twelve Months Of The Year" with Harvey doing lead and Marvin Gaye doing the recitation.  Chess paired the record with an older, original Moonglows recording, "Don't Be Afraid To Love."  The record was released on Chess with the label crediting only Harvey.  Harvey lip-synced "Don't Be Afraid To Love" in the movie, Go Johnny Go in 1959.


Promotional copy of "Twelve Months Of The Year"
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

The Moonglows next Chess release featured Harvey Fuqua leading on "Unemployment," while giving Marvin Gaye the lead on the flip, "Mama Loochie."  The new Moonglows remained with Harvey for a little more than a year before breaking up.

Harvey & the Moonglows, ca. 1959
Harvey Fuqua, front.  Back row left to right, Chester Simmons,
Reese Palmer, James Nolan, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Barksdale.

Marvin Gaye led this Moonglows release, written by Marvin and Harvey.
Note the original spelling of Marvin's last name, "Gay" and not "Gaye".

As great as Harvey Fuqua's contributions to American music were with the Moonglows, his accomplishments behind the scenes were even greater.  While at Chess Records, it was Harvey Fuqua whom the Dells credit teaching them harmony.  It was also Harvey that brought Etta James to Chess.  Harvey recorded several sides with Etta James as "Etta & Harvey."

Etta James & Harvey Fuqua
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

While he was still with the Moonglows, Harvey Fuqua became friends with noted Detroit songwriter, Roquel "Billy" Davis.  Davis and Fuqua wrote "See Saw" together.  As the original Moonglows were breaking up in 1959, Harvey produced the Bobby Lester solo on Checker, "Am I The Man," a Billy Davis composition.  By the early 1960's, Billy Davis, Gwen and Anna Gordy (sisters to Berry Gordy) were partners in a songwriting venture.  Billy and Gwen also owned the Anna label (named after Anna Gordy).  At Billy Davis' invitation, Harvey Fuqua moved to Detroit to take a job producing records for the Anna label.  And as the second Moonglows group broke up, Harvey Fuqua continued to work with Marvin Gaye.  Eventually, Harvey would marry Gwen Gordy and Marvin would marry Anna Gordy.

Harvey Fuqua joined Anna records just as their biggest hit, Barrett Strong's "Money" was taking off.  Harvey wrote and produced numerous records for the Anna label.  He produced Paul Gayten on Anna as well as the first solo record by Lamont Dozier (under the name Lamont Anthony).  Dozier had previously recorded with the Romeos on the Fox label and the Voice Masters on Anna.  Lamont Dozier would later become one third of the song writing team, Holland Dozier Holland, and is responsible for writing over fifty-four #1 hits.  His career as a songwriter, singer and producer has earned him international acclaim and an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Lamont Dozier's first solo record under the name Lamont Anthony.
Written by Harvey Fuqua and Gwen Gordy
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

Harvey Fuqua also wrote and produced future Temptations' lead, David Ruffin's first record under his own name on Anna.  Ruffin had previously made one record under the name "Little David Bush".  Some sources say David Ruffin may have even filled in with Harvey's Moonglows on a few dates.  Harvey and Marvin Gaye continued to work together.  Marvin played drums on some of the Anna sessions, and on occasion performed with Harvey as a duet called "Harv and Marv".

David Ruffin record written and produced by Harvey Fuqua
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

In mid-1961, Harvey and Gwen started their own record label, Tri-Phi.  Later in the year, they also started a subsidiary label, Harvey.  One of the first acts that Harvey signed to his Tri-Phi label was the Spinners.  Harvey liked working with the Spinners because there were five of them and he could arrange five-part harmony.  He'd reportedly would rehearse the group from seven at night until two in the morning.  There is some question as to whether or not Harvey actually sang with the Spinners, and if so, on which records.  "She Loves Me So: (Tri-Phi 1010) actually lists the artists as "Harvey & the Spinners" and on some records, lead Bobby Smith's voice sound so much like Harvey's, it is obvious that Harvey did a lot of coaching of the group.

(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

Harvey (Former lead of the Moonglows) and the Spinners
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

The Spinners' first record on Tri-Phi, "That's What Girls Are Made For," reached #27 on the charts.  The Spinners would go on to have a long and distinguished career but they were not the only artists that Harvey introduced to the world.  Harvey Fuqua signed Shorty Long to Tri-Phi.   Later, after Motown absorbed Tri-Phi, Shorty would score with "Here Comes the Judge" and "Function At The Junction."  Harvey and Gwen also made the first recordings of Junior Walker & the All Stars on the Harvey label.  Walker just showed up at Tri-Phi, said he had his band in the car and asked for an audition.

Harvey also recorded the vocal group, the (Five) Quails ("Been A Long Time").  Harvey reportedly added his own voice to the records.

The (Five) Quails on Harvey Fuqua's Harvey label.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

Another of Harvey Fuqua's discoveries was Ann Bogan.  Ann sang lead for the Challangers, who Harvey signed to his Tri-Phi label.  The next to the last record on the Harvey label was a duet between Harvey Fuqua and Ann Bogan, credited to "Harvey & Ann".  Ann would move on to Motown where she sang lead for the Andantes on "Like a Nightmare" (V.I.P. label).  She joined the Mravelettes in 1967, replacing Gladys Horton, and when the Marvelettes disbanded in the early 1970's she became the lead of Love, Peace & Happiness on RCA (another Harvey Fuqua produced group).  Love Peace & Happiness would become part of New Birth (RCA), yet another Harvey Fuqua produced group.

Ann Bogan leading the Challengers on Harvey's Tri-Phi label.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

Harvey (Fuqua) & Ann (Bogan)
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

By late 1962, Harvey was tired of running his own labels.  In 1963, he sold out the Tri-Phi and Harvey labels to his brother-in-law, Berry Gordy and joined the staff at Motown Records.  At Motown, Harvey worked with groups like the Supremes to sharpen up their act, adding choreography among other attributes.  Harvey also worked promotion and went on tour with the Supremes.

On the writing and producing side, Harvey Fuqua produced the Marvin Gaye - Tammi Terrell duets like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You."  He also wrote and/or produced records for the Supremes, Spinners, Isley Brothers, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Temptations, Junior Walker & the All Stars and many other Motown artists.


[New!]Harvey Fuqua (standing, third from left), rehearsing the Temptations, ca. 1964
(Photo courtesy of Charles Anderson)

[New!]Harvey Fuqua (second from left), Temptations' Otis Williams (behind Harvey),
Cholly Adkinns (dancer & choreographer, standing on right) ca. 1964
(Photo courtesy of Charles Anderson)

Harvey Fuqua left Motown Records and Detroit in 1969.  Joining RCA Records, he discovered and produced Love Peace & Happiness, New Birth ("Mr. Dream Merchant") and the Nite Liters.

Around 1972, Harvey reformed the Moonglows, consisting of himself and originals Bobby Lester and Pete Graves along with Doc Williams and Chuck Lewis.  The group traveled to Philadelphia and recorded an updated "Sincerely '72" as well as enough material to put together an album.  "Sincerely '72" was released on Big P, a label owned by Philadelphia disc Jockey, Georgie Woods.  The entire session was then sold to RCA Records, who released a couple singles and an RCA album, The Return of the Moonglows.

Original label for "Sincerely '72"
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

By July 1972, "Sincerely '72" was released on RCA, along with the LP.
Also released was a 45 of an updated "When I'm With You".
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

Harvey also discovered disco pioneer Sylvester and "Two Tons O' Fun" (who later became the Weather Girls of "It's Raining Men" fame).  In 1982 Harvey reunited with Marvin Gaye to produce the singer's Midnight Love album which included the single "Sexual Healing."

The Moonglows were inducted into the United in Group Harmony Association's Hall of Fame in 1992, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.  Around 2002, Harvey released a solo CD which included a couple tracks with Harvey doing duets with Etta James and Smokey Robinson.

[New!]Harvey Fuqua's solo CD, ca. 2000.
(Courtesy of Charles Anderson)

[New!]Release party of T.V.O.X. CD in Philadelphia, ca. 2000
Harvey Fuqua second from left, followed by Philly dj Jerry Blavat,
Charles Anderson, Val Shively
(Photo taken by Weldon A. McDougal III, courtesy of Charles Anderson)

In the Fall of 2008, Harvey Fuqua appeared at the American Bandstand Reunion party at the refurbished Bandstand Studio building at 46th & Market Streets (Philadelphia).  Steve Applebaum was there to take the following photos, which we reprint here with Steve's permission.

[New!]Harvey Fuqua, American Bandstand Reunion, 2008.
(Photo courtesy of Steve Applebaum)

[New!]Harvey Fuqua, American Bandstand Reunion, 2008.
(Photo courtesy of Steve Applebaum)

[New!]Harvey Fuqua singing with the Washington, DC, group, the Jewels,
American Bandstand Reunion, 2008.
(Photo courtesy of Steve Applebaum)

[New!]Harvey Fuqua and Steve Applebaum, American Bandstand Reunion, 2008.
(Photo courtesy of Steve Applebaum)

Over the years we've seen Harvey Fuqua perform with the Moonglows several times and on a few occasions were fortunate to be able to speak with him.  He was always very gracious to us and we enjoyed the conversations we had with him.  We last saw Harvey Fuqua perform in Las Vegas in 2007 at the Second Annual Cool Bobby B's Doo Wop Convention.  Harvey and the group performed "See Saw," "Sincerely," "When I'm With You" and "The Ten Commandments Of Love."

Harvey Fuqua (far left) performing with his Moonglows in 2007.

This tribute barely touches the surface of Harvey Fuqua's many music accomplishments.  But at least it gives an overview of the career of this major figure in music history.  We'll conclude this tribute page with a Youtube clip from a recent PBS doo wop show, with Harvey and the Moonglows singing "The Ten Commandments of Love".  We'll miss you Harvey.


Copyright © Classic Urban Harmony LLC, 2010.  All Rights Reserved.