Wanda Young, co-lead singer of Motown’s The Marvelettes, died December 15 at age 78, according to the New York Times. Her daughter, Meta Ventress, told the paper that she died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Young replaced original member Georgia Dobbins ahead of the group signing with Motown in 1961. Their debut single, “Please Mr. Postman,” topped the Billboard Hot 100 in December of that year. It was Motown’s first number-one record on the Hot 100.
Years later, “Please Mr. Postman” was famously covered by both The Beatles and The Carpenters.
While Young sang backing vocals on that song, she sang lead on many other Marvelettes hits, including “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game,” “Too Many Fish in the Sea” and “Don’t Mess with Bill.“
Young left Motown in 1972 and later recorded for Motorcity Records. She and fellow Marvelettes member Gladys Horton also reunited for an album called The Marvelettes: Now! for that label in 1990.
Claudette Robinson, the first female artist signed to Motown, paid tribute to Young on Twitter, writing, “Wanda was a star on Earth and now she is a star in Heaven. Put on some #Marvelettes and turn it up.“
Young was married to The Miracles‘ Bobby Rogers for 12 years, until 1975. In addition to Ventress, Young’s two children with Rogers survive her; she’s also survived by seven grandchildren, a great-grandson, four sisters and four brothers. Her daughter, Miracle Rogers, was murdered in 2015.
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