Martha Reeves & The Vandellas performed their farewell concert today (December 21, 1972), in their hometown of Detroit.
The legendary singing group called it quits after their performance at Cobo Arena, paving the way for Martha Reeves to attempt a solo career.
The break up of Martha Reeves & The Vandellas in 1972 ended the story of a singing group whose origins go back to late summer of 1960, when Reeves met future group member Roselyn Ashford.
One night, when Martha Reeves was performing a solo act at the legendary 20 Grand nightclub in Detroit, Motown A&R executive Mickey Stevenson walked in and saw her singing.
She immediately quit her job at the cleaners and went to Hitsville USA, the next day at 9 AM.
With Mickey Stevenson walked in, he was shocked because Reeves had made an appointment.
Stevenson left the room and asked Reeves to answer the phone and didn’t come back for three hours, which led to an actual job.
Although Reeves was a secretary, since she was at Motown at the early beginnings of the label, she would sing and do back-up work on the recording sessions every day.
During one session, the back-up singers failed to show, so Martha called her old Del-Phi group members, who sang back-up on “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow.”
Martha, Roslyn and Annette formed the trio Martha Reeves & The Vandellas.
“I thought – Del-Phi’s we couldn’t use, because of legal reasons,” Martha Reeves said. “Vandyke Street signifies the Eastside. There’s always an Eastside/Westside thing. I lived very near Vandyke, on the East Side.”
And that’s how the name the group took the name “Vandellas.”
One of the first hits for The Vandellas came in 1963, titled “Come And Get These Memories.”
From that point on, the hits kept rolling.
The girls released songs like “(Love Is Like a) Heatwave”, “Quicksand,” “In My Lonely Room,” “Dancing In The Street,” “Nowhere To Run,””I’m Ready For Love,” “Jimmy Mack,” “Third Finger, Left Hand,” and others.
The hits begin to slowdown in 1967, after their track “Honey Chile,” went to #5 on the R&B charts.
“Honey Chile” was also the first single to officially bill the group as “Martha Reeves” & The Vandellas.
Infighting amongst members of Martha Reeves & The Vandellas also helped caused their demise, in addition to the turnover of group members.
After a modest hit in 1971 titled “Bless You,” Martha Reeves & The Vandellas officially called it quits and disbanded after the concert at Cobo Hall in 1972.