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Fuqua, Harvey

Harvey Fuqua
1929–

Music producer, record label executive

Harvey Fuqua became a living legend in the entertainment industry. His rise to prominence was due to his talent and a keen eye for recognizing potential in other aspiring artists.

Fuqua was born in Louisville, Kentucky on July 27, 1929. His uncle, Charlie Fuqua, had made his mark on the music industry as a member of the singing group, The Inkspots. As a young man, Fuqua would often spend time with his friends singing on the street corner of their neighborhood. They would sing spirituals and popular songs while trying to pass the time and impress girls. These informal sessions helped Fuqua hone his skills as a singer and entertainer.

The 1950s were a time of great musical innovation, especially for black artists. About this time, Fuqua and some friends of his from his neighborhood started singing together as a group. The success of his Uncle Charlie helped fuel Fuqua's desire to perform, and a group called The Crazy Sounds was formed. The group began by performing at local clubs and events. In 1952, the group came to the attention of a radio disc jockey, who changed their name to the Moonglows. The group landed a label, Chance Records, and began recording. Fuqua shared the lead vocals with Bobby Lester. By the late 1950s Fuqua soon began to sense trouble within the group. Some band members resented the money that Fuqua made as both a band member and primary songwriter. In 1959, the Moonglows disbanded, and Fuqua made several solo recordings and two duet recordings with Etta James.

Next Fuqua met Marvin Gaye. A fledgling group, the Marquees, auditioned for Fuqua in the late 1950s. Marvin Gaye was the breakout talent of this group. Fuqua was so impressed with their talent that he decided to take on this new group, and even joined the group under the new name Harvey and the Moonglows. The group broke up in 1960, but Fuqua began managing Marvin Gaye himself. That same year, Fuqua moved to Detroit to work with Gwen Gordy, the sister of Berry Gordy, for her label Anna Records. In 1961, Gwen Gordy and Fuqua (soon to be husband and wife) started two record labels, Tri-Phi and Harvey Records. Fuqua grew wearisome of the difficulties associated with running two small independent labels that had no distribution or manufacturing advantage over major record labels. In 1963, he disbanded the labels and joined Berry Gordy's burgeoning Motown operation as a writer, producer, and promotion man. Fuqua had come to Berry Gordy's attention after he rented a room from Berry's sister Ester Gordy, where he would have lengthy practice sessions with various artists.

Berry later gave Fuqua the opportunity to head Motown's Artist Development department. This department was responsible for grooming Motown acts in their stage performances and public persona. This position allowed Fuqua to discover talent for Motown as well. Throughout the years, he had remained in contact with Marvin Gaye. Fuqua eventually introduced Marvin Gaye to Gordy and Motown history was made. Gaye went on to record a number of hits for Motown with Tammi Terrell such as "Your Precious Love" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". Fuqua's success at Motown was due to the attention and care that he gave the new artists for whom he was responsible. He groomed them and showed them how to entertain as well as excite. Fuqua also wrote and produced numerous hits for Motown during this time, including hit songs for the Supremes, Jr. Walker and the Allstars, and Stevie Wonder.

Begins New Independent Career

Fuqua enjoyed his work at Motown immensely, but he eventually felt the need to separate. In the early 1970s, Fuqua began a production deal with RCA. This venture allowed Fuqua to discover new talent such as New Birth, The Nightlighters, and Sylvester. In addition, he helped develop the talents of The Weathergirls, who along with Sylvester took the world of disco to new levels of popularity. Fuqua reunited with Marvin Gaye in 1982 on Gaye's comeback album to help produce several songs that went on to be huge hits, like "Sexual Healing".

In 2000, Fuqua and the other members of the Moonglows were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Harvey Fuqua continued to be involved in the music industry. He worked with artists such as Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, and Gladys Knight. He started a new recording label, Resurging Artists, in April of 2000. He was an active board member of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, which works to make sure that the American musical pioneers get medical care and treatment, financial help, and proper credit for work that they have done.

Chronology

1929
Born in Louisville, Kentucky on July 27
1952
Starts The Crazy Sounds with Bobby Lester; later the group changes their name to the Moonglows and are signed to Chance Records
1959
The Moonglows disbands
1961
Starts two record labels, Tri-Phi and Harvey Records
1962
Closes his labels and joins Motown to work as a writer, producer, and promotion man, later becoming head of Motown's Artist Development department
1970
Leaves Motown and forms own production company
1971
Begins working with RCA
1982
Collaborates with Marvin Gaye on his comeback album
2000
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the rest of the Moonglows; begins the Resurging Artists recording label

REFERENCES

Online

Marion, J. C. "Harvey Fuqua: After the Moonglows." http://home.earthlink.net/∼v1tiger/harvey.html (Accessed 30 January 2006).

Puckett, Jeffrey L. "Harvey Fuqua." http://www.thisoldsoul.com/hf.html (Accessed 30 January 2006).

                                         Connie Mack

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