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Marv Johnson

Best remembered for a handful of hits including the Top Ten smashes "You Got What It Takes" and "I Love the Way You Love," Marv Johnson was also a seminal figure in the early history of Motown Records. Marvin Earl Johnson was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1938, and was raised in a musical environment that mixed the gospel music of the Baptist church with the jump-jazz of Louis Jordan & His Tympany 5. By the time he was in high school he had joined a local singing group, playing carnivals and fairs. In 1958, he cut his first sides, "My Baby-O" and "Once Upon a Time;" the single failed to sell, but the recording session resulted in a meeting with songwriter and would-be record producer Berry Gordy.

After Johnson played his original song "Come to Me" for Gordy and his future wife Raynoma, the couple chose Johnson as the first artist for their fledgling record label, Tamla. Because the new label didn't have distribution outside of Detroit, "Come to Me" (credited to Gordy and Johnson) was released nationally by United Artists, and rose to number six on the R&B charts and number 30 on the pop charts. Gordy soon lost direct control of his first discovery after United Artists signed Johnson directly, but continued as the singer's manager. Johnson also toured with Motown acts such as the Miracles in addition to appearing on Alan Freed's rock & roll revues and media venues such as American Bandstand, and joined early package tours and stage revues where he shared bills with his idols Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson.

Johnson's second single fared poorly, but his third, 1959's "You've Got What It Takes," exploded onto the charts, becoming a Top Ten hit and earning a gold record. The 1960 follow-up "I Love the Way You Love" also landed in the Top Ten; among his subsequent singles, "You've Got to Move Two Mountains" was a more pop-flavored effort that reached the Top 20, while "Happy Days" got to number seven on the R&B charts late in 1960. "Merry-Go-Round," issued in early 1961, was Johnson's last chart success.

In 1965, with the British Invasion in full swing, Johnson's contract was dropped by United Artists; he finally came "home" to Motown, joining the Gordy label, but never enjoyed another American hit, although he earned a British gold record with "I'll Pick a Rose for My Rose" for Tamla in 1968. He later worked in a front-office job for Motown, and also wrote songs for Tyrone Davis and Johnny Taylor. Johnson's recording career ended in the late '60s, but he never stopped performing, and remained active on-stage into the early '90s. Johnson died from a stroke at a concert in Columbia, South Carolina on May 16, 1993. ~ Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Marvelous Marv Johnson / More Marv Johnson

1. September In The Rain

2. You've Got What It Takes

3. Summertime

4. S' Wonderful

5. I Can't Get Started

6. Come To Me

7. Let Me Love You

8. Almost Like Being In Love

9. Love Is Here To Stay

10. I'm Coming Home

11. When I Fall In Love

12. Don't Leave Me

13. Baby Baby

14. This Heart Of Mine (Will Surely Sing)

15. I Love The Way You Love Me

16. River Of Tears

17. Clap Your Hands

18. Ain't Gonna Be That Way

19. When You've Lost Your Love

20. I Need You

21. Easier Said Than Done

22. What A Need

23. All The Love I've Got

x

Track List: The Best Of Marv Johnson - You Got What It Takes

1. Come To Me

2. Whisper

3. I'm Coming Home

4. You Got What It Takes

5. Don't Leave Me

6. I Love The Way You Love

7. Let Me Love You

8. Ain't Gonna Be That Way

9. All The Love I've Got

10. (You've Got To) Move Two Mountains

11. Happy Days

12. Baby Baby

13. Merry Go Round

14. Tell Me That You Love Me

15. How Can We Tell Him

16. I've Got A Notion

17. Oh Mary

18. Easier Said Than Done

19. Magic Mirror

20. Keep Tellin' Yourself

23. The Man Who Don't Believe In Love

Comments

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What a great voice
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Great style smooth voice fine talent.
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nature didn't give you such a beautiful face
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Marv Johnson shoulda gotten more recognition! ! ! I loved his music!!!
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allison.will i a m s 1 1
Wow I love this
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you don't drive a big fine car and you don't look like a movie star........ .
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I never get tired of hearing You Got What it Takes
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You don't live in a beautiful place...you don't dress with the best of taste and nature didn't give you such a beautiful face..but you got what it takes
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Agreed!He was spectacular and he deserved higher acclaim than he received at the time.
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rlk175a
He was one of the best. No one today sings songs that rock me like this.
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ssapler
for his time he was the best

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