FUQUA, HARVEY (27 July 1929 - 6 July 2010), gained prominence as a singer at Motown Records who influenced the careers of many 70’s soul and pop groups, and who was associated with artists such as Etta James, Marvin Gaye, and The Spinners.
Fuqua was born in Louisville, Kentucky where he formed his first R&B and doo-wop vocal group in 1951 called Crazy Sounds with Bobby Lester, Alexander Graves and Prentiss Barnes. The group decided to move to Graves’ hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, to continue their music career. The group auditioned at a club in Cleveland where they met ALAN FREED who became a major figure in the establishment of ROCK ’N’ ROLL as a popular radio genre.
The group soon changed their name to The Moonglows and was managed by Freed and his Champagne Label in 1953. The following year, The Moonglows signed with Chicago-based Chance Label where they gained exposure with a cover of Doris Day’s “Secret Love”. Only receiving minimal success, Ewart Abner, who would later become a major figure at Motown, pushed the vocal group to negotiate a recording deal with Chess Records. This proved to be a positive move for the group. They recorded hits such as “Sincerely”, which reached number one in R&B and number twenty on the Billboard charts in 1954.
Their success continued with the songs “Most of All” (number five in R&B, 1955), “We Go Together” (number nine in R&B, 1956), “See Saw” (number six in R&B, 1956) and “Ten Commandments of Love” (number nine in R&B, 1958) which they recorded with members from The Marquees, a vocal group from Washington D.C. While at Chess Records, Fuqua also sang as a solo artist and participated in several songs with Etta James. Around 1958, Marvin Gaye who was a member of The Marquees joined Fuqua’s vocal group. In February 1961, Fuqua decided to leave The Moonglows but continued working with Gaye, who served as his mentor. He started his own independent label called Tri-Phi and Harvey Records where he was responsible for the production process of the music as well as the contractual agent who signed new singers and groups including saxophonist, Junior Walker, and The Spinners. He later accepted Berry Gordy’s offer to work for his recording label, Motown Records. Here, Fuqua worked on the production team as head of artist development. He was the producer who recorded Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s version of “Ain't No Mountain High Enough,'' which proved to be major success rising to number three in R&B and number nineteen on the pop Billboard charts.
In less than two years after the release of the song, Gaye and Terrell released four other singles which reached the top thirty. In 1971, Fuqua left Motown Records and joined RCA Records where he produced a number of hit singles. During this time, he also served as Smokey Robinson’s manager. In 1982, Fuqua reunited with Gaye who had left Motown Records and helped produce Gaye’s Midnight Love album for Columbia Records which included the song “Sexual Healing” which peaked at number one on the Billboard charts on November 6, 1982, sold over two million units, and earned Gaye two Grammy Awards in 1983.
Fuqua and his wife, Dr. Carolyne Fuqua, later formed a non-profit organization, “The Stars: Singers Taking Action Reaching Souls”, in 1996. Its mission was to facilitate musical performances with the goal of connecting people through music. A notable aspect of the organization was introducing programs relating to education, housing, and medicine which supported underprivileged youth in the United States and internationally.
In 2000 Fuqua’s former group, The Moonglows, was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That same year Fuqua died of coronary issues in a hospital in Detroit.