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The Contours

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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
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Albums by
The Contours

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    19 songs

    On Air

    Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)

    11 songs

    On Air

    Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)

    20 songs

    On Air

    The Sounds of the Contours

    11 songs

    On Air

    A New Direction

    5 songs

    On Air

    Human Recycling

    2 songs

    On Air

    Whole Lotta Woman/Regional Version

    10 songs

    On Air

    The Very Best of the Contours [Motorcity]

    18 songs

    On Air

    The Very Best

    10 songs

    On Air

    Shake Sherrie

    19 songs

    On Air

    Do You Love Me and other Hit Songs

    14 songs

    On Air

    Remember

    13 songs

    On Air

    Titanium Hits

    11 songs

    On Air

    Do You Love Me - The Best of the Contours

    11 songs

    On Air

    Early R&B Legends, Vol. 1

    7 songs

    On Air

    Trust in Me

    4 songs

    On Air

    The Contours: The Extended Play Collection

    2 songs

    On Air

    Money (That's What I Want)

    26 songs

    On Air

    Dance with the Contours

    10 songs

    On Air

    Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)

    11 songs

    On Air

    20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of the Contours

    8 songs

    On Air

    Night Owls

    8 songs

    On Air

    Soul Picnic

    10 songs

    On Air

    Where There's Smoke

    15 songs

    On Air

    Winter in New England


Top Songs by
The Contours

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Do You Love Me
  3.   Just a Little Misunderstanding
  4.   Ain't Nothing But a House Party
  5.   Pa, I Need a Car
  6.   Nobody Fine As Dinah
  7.   First I Look at the Purse
  8.   Shake Everything You Got
  9.   Minnie the Ugly Duckling
  10.   Wanted
  11.   The Limbo is Here to Stay
  12.   Throw You Out of My Mind
  13.   Don't You Wanna Go
  14.   Why Don't You Stop
  15.   Do You Love Me Pretty Baby?
  16.   Do You Love
  17.   What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
  18.   So Grateful
  19.   Whole Lotta Woman
  20.   Funny
  21.   Can You Do It
  22.   It Must Be Love
  23.   I Can't Stop Dancing
  24.   New Love
  25.   Come to Me
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
The Contours

    On Air

    Legends Of Motown

    On Air

    Oldies

    On Air

    Dad's Kitchen

    On Air

    '60s Hits

    On Air

    Kids Classic Hits

    On Air

    '60s Deep Dive

    On Air

    Toddlers

    On Air

    Acid Jazz

    On Air

    Classic Hits

    On Air

    Disco Deep Dive


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