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Wanda Young, a member of Motown’s chart-topping The Marvelettes, has died in suburban Detroit. She was 78.
Meta Ventress told The New York Times in a story published Saturday that her mother died Dec. 15 in Garden City, Michigan, of complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Young and other members of the Marvelettes were teenagers when they recorded “Please Mr. Postman” for Berry Gordy Jr.’s Motown Records in 1961. The song became Motown’s first No. 1 pop hit.
The all-female group was signed by Motown to its Tamla label earlier that year and included Georgeanna Tillman, Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson and Juanita Cowart, according to the Motown Museum.
The teens were students at Inkster High School outside Detroit, and along with Georgia Dobbins, a graduate, were members of a singing group called The Casinyets. Young replaced Dobbins when Gordy signed the group.
Songs like “Twistin’ Postman,” “Playboy” and “Too Many Fish in the Sea” followed “Please Mr. Postman.” The group would later record such hits as “Don’t Mess With Bill,” “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” and “My Baby Must Be a Magician.”
Young sang the lead on “Don’t Mess With Bill.”
“I told her constantly, ‘All these people love you,’” Ventress told the Times. “And she’d say, ‘Wow.’”
“She didn’t wake up every day thinking of the Marvelettes, but she never lost that glamour,” Ventress added.
The Motown Museum posted on its Facebook page that Young “helped The Marvelettes become one of the many success stories at Motown Records.”
After The Marvelettes disbanded in the early 1970s, Young recorded under another label.
Young and Horton sang on the 1990 album The Marvelettes: Now! according to the Times.
In addition to Ventress, Young is survived by children Robert Rogers III and Bobbae Rogers; seven grandchildren; a great-grandson; four sisters and four brothers.
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