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Tribute for Motown Sound men

May 12, 2003|Geoff Boucher

They called it the Motown Sound, but the vibrant, timeless R&B music that rolled out of Detroit in the 1960s could have gone by another, less succinct nickname: "the Holland-Dozier-Holland Sound." The songwriting and studio work of brothers Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier is dizzying in its prolific hit making, and on Tuesday the group will be honored as icons by BMI, the performing rights organization that represents some 300,000 songwriters.

The trio's resume of 200 songs includes more hits than most jukeboxes. Among them: "Reach Out I'll Be There"; "Baby Love"; "You Can't Hurry Love"; "You Keep Me Hangin' On"; "Baby I Need Your Loving"; "(It's the) Same Old Song"; "Nowhere to Run"; "Stop! In the Name of Love"; "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" and "I Hear a Symphony."

On Tuesday at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the Hollands and Dozier will assemble for a tribute to that legacy. Last year, BMI introduced its Icon Award (the inaugural honorees were Bill Anderson, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Bo Diddley and Little Richard) and, in separate interviews last week, the trio seemed deeply touched by the recognition from an association of peers.

"Through the years, there have been so many wonderful things; we are all very grateful," Dozier said. "The body of work speaks for itself. I know I never had any idea that the songs would still be around today, still be in movies and on the radio and played when I'm walking through a supermarket. It still takes me by surprise."

BMI keeps track of the use of songs and estimates that Holland-Dozier-Holland compositions have tallied close to 100 million airplays on radio and television. Brian Holland explained that his earliest collaborations with Dozier created a bond that would resonate in the music they made. "We had a spiritual relationship and an emotional one when we worked together; it wasn't just two guys working together, and I think, somehow, you can hear that in the songs."

What about today's music? What do the classic craftsmen hear when they tune in? All three praised the best of today's pop, and Eddie Holland in particular is smitten with the "innovative, unique" rhythm and rhyme of rap.

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