Lamont Dozier, the hitmaker who wrote and produced numerous Motown hits, has died at 81. The news was confirmed by his son Lamont Dozier Jr. on Instagram.
As one-third of the powerhouse songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland, the trio crafted many songs that helped define the Motown sound of the ‘60s, which is described as soul music with a distinct pop edge. As one of the most well-known of the label’s producers, Holland-Dozier-Holland helped make Detroit an important stop to record in.
Not all magic makes itself known from the start. Dozier had little luck with the first singles he recorded, eventually striking gold when he began working with brothers Brian and Eddie Holland at Motown Records. The trio scored their first hits in 1963 with Martha and the Vandella’s “Come and Get These Memories,” “Heatwave,” and “Quicksand,” all of which made it into the top 10 Hot R&B Singles. After that success, the trio went on to produce numerous hit records for The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye and more.
Despite their success, the trio entered into a dispute with Barry Gordy over royalties. By 1968, the trio left Motown Records to form their own labels, Invictus Records and Hot Wax Records, which enjoyed moderate success with artists such as Chairmen of the Board and Freda Payne.
Dozier departed from Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1973 and embarked on a solo career, starting with the aptly titled debut album Out Here on My Own the same year. Between 1973 and 1991, Dozier released 10 solo albums. He also began a career in composing, working with Phil Collins to score a Golden Globe in 1988 for the song “Two Hearts” from the Buster soundtrack. English singer Alison Moyet enjoyed a top 40 hit with the “Invisible,” written by Dozier. His last composition credit before a long hiatus was in 1990 for Debbie Gibson’s “Anything is Possible.”
He returned to music in 2004 to re-record some of the biggest hits of his Motown career on Reflections of Lamont Dozier. That same year, he returned for the final composition credit of his career for his work on “Spoiled” by Joss Stone. His final album, 2018’s Reimagination, found the singer revisiting his iconic hits once more with collaborators that included Todd Rundgren, Graham Nash, Lee Ann Womack and more.
Aside from writing and composing music, Dozier taught courses on popular music as the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music’s artist-in-residence professor in 2008.
Dozier is survived by his three children, Lamont Jr., Beau and Paris.
Below, revisit some of Dozier’s most iconic hits.