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Original Marvelette Horton Still Plugging

October 12, 1985|DENNIS HUNT | Times Staff Writer

The three singers who'll be performing as the Marvelettes on Friday at a Universal Amphitheatre rock 'n' roll revival aren't the real Marvelettes.

Brenda Watty, Linda Smith and Deborah Malone are legally the Marvelettes, but they weren't in the R&B vocal group in the early '60s when it recorded its biggest Motown hits--"Please Mr. Postman," "Too Many Fish in the Sea," "Beechwood 4-5789" and "Playboy."

Gladys Horton, 40, was the lead singer on those songs, which were recorded with Wanda Rogers and Katherine Shaffner. But Horton is the only original Marvelette still working. Her former colleagues, Horton explained, are in Michigan and out of show business.

Horton has her own version of the group--Gladys Horton & the California Marvelettes--which will perform Oct. 26 at the Alexandria Hotel downtown.

"Those girls shouldn't be allowed to pass themselves off as the original Marvelettes," Horton said of the Watty-Smith-Malone group. "I'm the only original member of the group."

Unfortunately for her, the name of the game is who owns the name. Once the property of Motown head Berry Gordy (who created the name), it's now in the hands of whoever is backing the Marvelettes appearing at "Fabian's Good Time Rock 'n' Roll Show, Vol. 3" at the Universal Amphitheatre.

The original group, composed of students at Inkster High in Detroit, was formed in 1961, beginning as a quintet but evolving into a trio. It was the premier female singing group on Motown until the Supremes came along.

In 1968, when the group was on the decline, Horton quit, primarily to devote herself to caring for her first child, Sammy--now 17--who has cerebral palsy.

"I didn't want to travel," she recalled. "I had to spend my time caring for my son. I'm an orphan so I don't have any family I could leave him with while I was carrying on with my singing career."

A divorcee with two other sons, Horton has been trying to revive her career since the late '70s but hasn't had much luck. She hasn't done any recording since the Motown days. Since the late '70s she's been pursuing another interest.

"I still want to sing, but I want to be a songwriter," she said. "I'd like to make good at something now. It's not easy. The music business is much tougher now."

SPRINGSTEEN POSTSCRIPT: That system devised by Avalon Attractions--promoter of Bruce Springsteen's four recent L.A. Coliseum shows--to cut down on ticket scalping worked well, according to Brian Murphy, the company's head man. For a change, average fans had a good shot at the best tickets.

This time scalpers couldn't hire kids to be first in line to buy the best seats. To get tickets, fans first had to go to various locations to randomly draw wristbands containing numbers that entitled them to a certain place in a ticket line. Also, the ticket limit per customer was four instead of eight. With that smaller allotment, the fan was less likely to sell some to a broker.

"The system really cut down on the number of tickets the brokers got and the quality of those seats," Murphy said this week. "John Q. Fan had a chance this time. I talked to people in the front rows. Many of them were average fans who didn't get their tickets from brokers."

But there was a problem. Usually Springsteen shows sell out in one day. With the smaller allotment per person, that wasn't possible. There were 30,000 to 40,000 seats left after the first day. "No one believed there were tickets left," Murphy said. "There were plenty left but they weren't great seats. Eventually we sold them all."

The 340,000 tickets sold for the engagement is a local record.

LIVE ACTION: Motley Crue returns to town with a Long Beach Arena show Nov. 27. Tickets go on sale Monday. . . . Tickets will also be available Monday for several Beverly Theatre shows, including Tom Waits Nov. 23-24, Pia Zadora (singing pop standards with a 40-piece orchestra) Nov. 19-20 and Ruben Blades Nov. 22.

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