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Brian, Lamont and Eddie

Purcellville, Virginia

August 14, 2020

Holland–Dozier–Holland was a songwriting and production team made up of Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland. The trio wrote, arranged and produced many songs that helped define the Motown sound in the 1960s. During their tenure at Motown Records from 1962 to 1967, Dozier and Brian Holland were the composers and producers for each song, and Eddie Holland wrote the lyrics and arranged the vocals. Their most celebrated productions were singles for the Four Tops and the Supremes, including 10 out of the Supremes' 12 US No. 1 singles, such as "Baby Love", "Stop! In the Name of Love", and "You Keep Me Hangin' On".

The trio came together at Motown in the early 1960s. Eddie Holland had been working with Motown founder Berry Gordy prior to that label being formed; his 1958 Mercury single "You" was one of Gordy's earliest productions. Later, Eddie Holland had a career as a Motown recording artist, scoring a US Top 30 hit in 1961 with "Jamie". Eddie's brother Brian Holland was a Motown staff songwriter who also tasted success in 1961, being a co-composer of the Marvelettes' US No. 1 "Please Mr. Postman". Dozier had been a recording artist for several labels in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including the Anna label (owned by Berry Gordy's sister) and Motown subsidiary Mel-o-dy.

The three eventually teamed up to create material for both themselves and other artists, but soon found they preferred being writers and producers to being performers (especially Eddie, who suffered from stage fright and retired from performing in 1964). They would write and produce scores of songs for Motown artists, including 25 Number 1 hit singles, such as "Heat Wave" for Martha and the Vandellas and "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" for Marvin Gaye.

In 1967, H-D-H, as they were familiarly called, entered into a dispute with Berry Gordy Jr. over profit-sharing and royalties. Eddie Holland had the others stage a work slowdown, and by early 1968 the trio had left the label. They started their own labels, Invictus Records and Hot Wax Records, which were modestly successful. When Motown sued for breach of contract, H-D-H countersued. The subsequent litigation was one of the longest legal battles in music industry history. Because they were legally contracted to Motown's publishing arm, Jobete, they could not use their own names on songs they wrote, and their material was credited to Wayne-Dunbar; "Edythe Wayne" being a pseudonym, and Ronald Dunbar being an associate who was a songwriter and producer.

The lawsuit was settled in 1977.

Dozier left Holland–Dozier–Holland Productions, Inc. (HDHP) in 1973 and resumed his career as a solo performing artist. In 1975, HDHP and Invictus Records sued Dozier and 31 others, claiming conspiracy to restrain trade and other charges. The suit was dismissed in 1982.

From the mid-1970s onwards, HDHP, with Harold Beatty replacing Dozier, wrote and produced songs for a number of artists. HDHP even worked on material for Motown artists in the 1970s, including The Supremes and Michael Jackson, while its litigation against the company was still pending. Dozier commented in 2008, "The lawsuit was just our way of taking care of business that needed to be taken care of—just like Berry Gordy had to take care of his business which resulted in the lawsuit. Business is business, love is love."

Check out the following list. Notice that HDH had a hand in writing "Give Me Just A Little More Time" and "You've Got Me Dangling On A String." Who knew (beside Tom and Jack)?

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