Gladys Horton, co-founder and former lead singer of the popular Motown all-female group, “The Marvelettes,” has died. She was 66.
Vaughn Thornton, 40, says his mother passed at approximately 10:00 PM, PST on Wednesday, Jan. 26th in a Sherman Oaks, Calif. (near Los Angeles) nursing home where she had been recuperating from a stroke that she suffered some time ago. “My mother died peacefully,” said Thornton. “She fought as long as she could.”
Horton was born in Detroit, Mich. in 1944. She was raised by foster parents in the western Detroit suburb of Inkster. While a student at Inkster High School, Horton developed a strong interest in singing and joined the high school glee club. She joined with several other members of the glee club, Katherine Anderson, Juanita Cowart, Georgeanna Tillman, and later Georgia Dobbins to form a group.
The ladies called themselves “The Casinyets,” short for “can’t sing yet.” Following a successful talent contest to sing for Motown, Dobbins, who was the group’s first lead singer, co-created “Please Mr. Postman.” Sadly, Dobbins had to leave the group after her father forbids her from singing in nightclubs.
Horton then became the lead singer and the group changed their name to “The Marvelettes.” Motown released the song in the summer of 1961 when Horton was only fifteen. The song jumped to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Motown’s first #1 Pop hit. Horton led on several other hits songs, including “Beechwood 4-5789,” “Playboy” and “Too Many Fish In The Sea.”
She was later replaced as lead singer for the group in 1965 by Wanda Young. Horton stayed with the group until 1967. Horton is also survived by a son, Sammy, 42.
Funeral arrangements are pending.