Pioneered Motown sound
Producer for Holland-Dozier-Holland hits
As part of the Holland/Dozier/Holland (HDH) production and songwriting axis, Brian Holland helped pioneer the classic Motown sound of the 1960s. His songs, including “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Baby I Need Your Loving’ and “Come See About Me” became hit recordings for the Supremes, the Four Tops and Martha & the Vandellas.
Born in Detroit on February 15, 1941, Holland began his career as the lead vocalist of the Satintones before signing on to accompany Barrett Strong in 1960. Strong opened the door for Holland to join Motown a year later, where he immediately co-wrote and produced the Marvelettes' classic "Please Mr. Postman." By 1962, he partnered with Lamont Dozier and Freddy Gorman; within a year Gorman had been replaced by Holland's older brother Eddie Holland, and the team made their debut with the hit song "Locking Up My Heart”, performed by the Marvelletes.
With HDH, Motown grew to become a hit machine virtually unparalleled in its productivity and consistency. Marvin Gaye recorded several early hits from the HDH catalog, including "Can I Get a Witness?," "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" and "Little Darling" while Martha and the Vandellas recorded "Heat Wave," "Nowhere to Run" and "Jimmy Mack." However, the trio found their greatest successes with the Supremes’ recordings of "Where Did Our Love Go?," "Baby Love," "Come See About Me," "Stop! In the Name of Love" and "Back in My Arms Again."
By the middle of the decade, the HDH "symphonic soul" sound was setting the pace for pop music everywhere. The Four Tops recorded "Baby I Need Your Loving," "I Can't Help Myself," "(It's The) Same Old Song" and the chart-topping perennial "Reach Out I'll Be There," while the Supremes released "You Can't Hurry Love," "You Keep Me Hanging On," "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone," and "The Happening."
In 1967, HDH split from Motown and due to legal restraints were barred from writing and producing for several years. In 1970, however, they were able to form their own labels, Invictus and Hot Wax where they wrote and produced hits for the Chairmen of the Board and Freda Payne. In 1972, Brian Holland even scored a minor solo hit with "Don't Leave Me Starvin' for Your Love." A year later Dozier left the trio for a solo recording career and eventually, the Holland brothers dissolved both labels in the mid-1970’s.
Brian Holland remains today an active and legendary producer and songwriter. In 1990, HDH was inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame.