Harvey Fuqua, (pronounced /ˈfjuːkwɑː/, July 27, 1929 – July 6, 2010), was an African-American soul singer, songwriter, record producer, and record label executive.
Fuqua founded the seminal R&B/doo wop group the Moonglows in the 1950s. He is noted for later having been one of the key figures in the development of the Motown label in Detroit, Michigan: his doo-wop group gave Marvin Gaye his musical career a start, and he and his wife at the time, Gwen Gordy, distributed the very first Motown hit single, Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)", on their record label, Anna Records. Fuqua later sold Anna Records to Gwen's brother Berry Gordy, and became a songwriter and executive at Motown.
Life and career
Fuqua was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and was the nephew of Charlie Fuqua of The Ink Spots. In 1951, with Bobby Lester, Alexander Graves and Prentiss Barnes, he formed a vocal group, the Crazy Sounds, in Louisville, later moving with other members of the group to Cleveland, Ohio. There, they were taken under the wing of disc jockey Alan Freed, who renamed them "The Moonglows" after his own nickname, 'Moondog'. The Moonglows' first releases were for Freed's Champagne label in 1953. They then recorded for the Chance label in Chicago, before signing for Chess Records in 1954. Their single "Sincerely" reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, and # 20 on the Hot 100, in late 1954.
Recording on Chess Records, Fuqua initially shared lead vocals with Lester, but eventually asserted himself as the leader of the group. This changed in 1957 when he, in effect, sacked the other members and installed a new group, previously known as the Marquees, which included Marvin Gaye. The new group, billed as Harvey and the Moonglows, had immediate further success, but Fuqua left in 1958. The Moonglows reunited temporarily in 1972, and in 2000 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
While on the Chess label, Fuqua also appeared on record in duets with Etta James, having hits with "If I Can't Have You" (#6 R&B, #52 pop, 1960) and "Spoonful" (#12 R&B, #78 pop, 1961).
Fuqua left the Moonglows when Leonard Chess suggested that he join Anna Records in Detroit. At Anna Records, Fuqua began working with Anna Gordy, Billy Davis, Lamont Dozier and Johnny Bristol. He also introduced Marvin Gaye to Anna's brother, Berry Gordy, and married their sister Gwen Gordy. In 1961, he started his own labels, Tri-Phi Records and Harvey Records, whose acts included the Spinners, Junior Walker and Shorty Long. However, tiring of running a small independent label, Fuqua welcomed the opportunity to work at Motown, and was hired to head the label's Artist Development department and meanwhile worked as a producer for the company. Fuqua brought the Spinners and Johnny Bristol to Motown, and co-produced several hits with Bristol. He was also responsible for bringing Tammi Terrell to the label, and for suggesting and producing her duets with Marvin Gaye, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Your Precious Love".
Around 1971, Fuqua left Motown and signed a production deal with RCA Records, having success particularly with the band New Birth. He also discovered disco pioneer Sylvester, and "Two Tons O' Fun" (aka The Weather Girls), producing Sylvester's hit singles "Dance (Disco Heat)" and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" in 1978 as well as his album Stars in 1979. He also served as Smokey Robinson's road manager. In 1982 he reunited with Marvin Gaye to produce the singer's Midnight Love album which included the single "Sexual Healing". In 2000 he set up his own "Resurging Artist Records", and also acted as a trustee of The Rhythm and Blues Foundation.
Fuqua resided in Concord, North Carolina until his death from a heart attack in hospital in Detroit on July 6, 2010. His nephew is filmmaker Antoine Fuqua.