Martha and The Vandellas are one the best known Motown groups to come out the American 60s. This girl group charted over 26 hits and the styles of R&B, blues and rock. Their best known hits are “Dancing in the Street”, “Heat Wave”, “Nowhere to Run” and “Jimmy Mack”.
The group consisted of front lady Martha Reeves and backing vocals provided by Rosalind Ashford and Annette Beard. It would have a further three line-up changes leading up to 1972 with Betty Kelly, Lois Reeves and Sandra Tilley.
After signing to the Motown record label, Martha and The Vandellas immediately struck it hot with “Come and Get These Memories” that went to 29 on the Billboard charts. Their second hit was “Heat Wave” which eventually sold over a 1 million copies and earned the group their first and only Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance.
The next single to hit the charts for The Vandellas was “Dancing in the Street”. It rose to #2 on the Billboard charts and after a re-release in 1969, it also found success across the pond in the UK. Ultimately, the song would be a hit for Van Halen, The Grateful Dead and Mick Jagger and David Bowie.
More top 40 singles followed between 1964 and 1967 and helped get the group coveted spots on popular television programmes like The Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand.
Despite, the girls’ position as a top selling performing act, Motown decided to concentrate on the rising star, Diana Ross. Eventually, infighting and illness led to a temporary disband for Martha and The Vandellas.
The group reformed in the 70s but couldn’t muster up the hit-making momentum as experienced in the 60s. They had a handful of hits that lingered in the 20-40 spots on the charts but eventually called it quits in 1972.
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