Where Are They Now

Ewart Abner
Motown tenure: 1967-1975.Career file: Exec and talent manager, including Motown president from 1973 through his departure in 1975. Later served as Stevie Wonder's manager.
Status: Died Dec. 27, 1998, at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles of complications from pneumonia.

 

RICHARD (PISTOL) ALLEN
Motown tenure: 1961-1972.
Career file: Drummer, one of the Funk Brothers, the label's loose collection of studio musicians.
Status: Died of cancer in 2002 in Detroit at age 69.

JACK ASHFORD
Motown tenure: 1963-1972.
Career file: Funk Brothers percussionist ("Nowhere to Run," "You Can't Hurry Love").
Status: Continues to perform and tour in the United Kingdom and the United States. Wrote book "Motown: The View from the Bottom."

ASHFORD & SIMPSON
Motown tenure: 1967-1973.Career file: Songwriters ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough"), performers.
Status of original members: Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson married in 1974. They divide their time between Westport, Conn., and New York. They still perform and own the Sugar Bar, an African-Mediterranean restaurant in Manhattan.

CHOLLY ATKINS
Motown tenure: 1965-1971.Career file: Choreographer.
Status: Won a Tony for his tap-dance choreography in the Broadway show "Black and Blue" in 1989. Died of pancreatic cancer in 2003 at age 89.

BOB BABBITT
Motown tenure: 1967-1972
.Career file: Funk Brothers bass player ("Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours.")
Status: Relocated to Philadelphia. Performs, records and tours with various musical artists.

WILLIAM (BENNY) BENJAMIN
Motown tenure: 1960-1969.
Career file: Funk Brothers drummer noted for his ability to meld diverse musicians into a cohesive ensemble.
Status: Died in 1969 of pneumonia, complicated by drug use.

THOMAS (BEANS) BOWLES
Motown tenure: 1958-1972.Career file: Music director for the Miracles and Four Tops, assistant director of Berry Gordy Enterprises; saxophonist and session player ("What's Going On").
Status: Died in 2000 of cancer at age 73. He was a founder of the Graystone International Jazz Museum and leader of the New Graystone Jazz Orchestra.

JANIE BRADFORD
Motown tenure: 1960-1984.
Career file: Motown's first receptionist; songwriter ("Money (That's What I Want)"); worked in Motown's contract department.
Status: After leaving Motown, she launched Entertainment Connection magazine, worked in public relations (for Holland-Dozier-Holland, among others) and founded the Heroes and Legends scholarship program for young artists. Lives in L.A.

JOHNNY BRISTOL
Motown tenure: 1960-1972.
Career file: Songwriter-producer ("Someday We'll Be Together").
Status: Died in 2004, age 65.

EDDIE (BONGO) BROWN
Motown tenure: 1962-1985.
Career file: Studio musician, a percussionist best known for his work with bongos and congas.
Status: Died Dec. 28, 1985, in L.A. of heart trouble at age 52.

DENNIS COFFEY
Motown tenure: 1968-1976.
Career file: Funk Brothers guitarist who added a psychedelic flair to tracks like "Cloud Nine."
Status: Resides in Farmington, where he continues to produce, record, perform and tour with the Funk Brothers and others.

THE CONTOURS
Motown tenure: 1959-1967.
Career file: Vocal quintet ("Do You Love Me"). Joe Billingslea re-formed the group in the early 1970s, and Sylvester Potts rejoined in the early '80s. Billingslea and Potts now perform in two different Contours groups. Status of original members: Billy Gordon: Lead vocalist became a drug abuser and did prison time. He died in 1999. Billy Hoggs: Jehovah's Witness minister in Mt. Pleasant. Joe Billingslea: Now performing with Joe Billingslea and the Contours; spent 13 years as a corrections officer and once locked up Gordon. Lives in Detroit. Sylvester Potts: Performs with the Contours featuring Sylvester Potts. Lives in Detroit. Hubert Johnson: Committed suicide in July 1981 by swallowing rat poison.

CAROLYN CRAWFORD
Motown tenure: 1963-1965.Career file: Vocalist ("My Smile Is Just a Frown Turned Upside Down").
Status: Performed with the groups Chapter 8, Hodges, James & Smith, Martha Reeves and ensembles headed by Hamilton Bohannon. Currently performs with the Funk Brothers.

LAMONT DOZIER
Motown tenure: 1963-1967; briefly in the early '70s.
Career file: Songwriter, producer (the Supremes, Four Tops).Status: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 with collaborators Brian and Eddie Holland. Now lives in L.A. and still writes music, including songs for Phil Collins and Eric Clapton. Composer for new musical, "The First Wives Club," which debuts this year.

ESTHER GORDY EDWARDS
Motown tenure: 1959-present.
Career file: Berry Gordy's sister worked a variety of roles in the Motown empire, from secretary to artist manager. As founder of the Motown Museum, which she ran for nearly two decades, she is often credited with keeping Motown alive in Detroit.
Status: Lives in Detroit. Turned over leadership of the museum to her granddaughter, Robin Terry, in 2004.

FOUR TOPS
Motown tenure: 1963-1972; 1983-present.
Career file: Vocal group ("I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," "Reach Out I'll Be There") with a record almost unmatched in pop music history: Until Lawrence Payton's death in 1997, the same four singers performed together for more than 40 years. (The group released its first record as the Four Aims in 1954.)    Surviving member Duke Fakir continues to perform with new Tops.
Status of original members: Levi Stubbs: Quit touring with the Tops after a stroke in 2000. Died in 2008 at age 72. Lawrence Payton: Died in June 1997 of liver cancer in Southfield, age 59. Abdul (Duke) Fakir: Lives in Detroit. Renaldo (Obie) Benson: Died in 2005, age 69.

MARVIN GAYE
Motown tenure: 1959-1982.Career file: Singer, songwriter; one of the label's earliest stars and one of its most innovative composers; also known for duets with Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Diana Ross and Tammi Terrell.
Status: Died April 1, 1984, of a gunshot wound inflicted by his father in L.A., the day before his 45th birthday.

BERRY GORDY JR.
Motown tenure: 1958-present.
Career file: Songwriter, producer, motion picture director; founder and chairman emeritus, Motown Records.
Status: Lives in Bel Air, Calif.

JOHNNY GRIFFITH
Motown tenure: 1962-1972.
Career file: Pianist, keyboardist ("Stop! In the Name of Love")
.Status: Relocated to Las Vegas where he continued to perform. Died in 2002 in Detroit at age 66.

BRIAN HOLLAND
Motown tenure: 1961-1968; returned briefly in early '70s.
Career file: Part of the legendary songwriting-producing team Holland-Dozier-Holland.
Status: Las Vegas resident Holland continues songwriting and producing, including motion picture and theater work. With Lamont Dozier and brother Eddie, he received the Trustees Award at the Grammys in 1998.

EDDIE HOLLAND
Motown tenure: 1961-1968; returned briefly in early '70s.Career file: Part of the legendary songwriting-producing team Holland-Dozier-Holland.
Status: Art collector Holland has been collaborating with H-D-H on Broadway-bound musical "The First Wives Club." Lives in L.A.

BRENDA HOLLOWAY
Motown tenure: 1963-1969.
Career file: Performer ("Every Little Bit Hurts") and songwriter ("You've Made Me So Very Happy"); later sang backup for Joe Cocker.
Status: Launched a comeback career in 1994. Lives in L.A.

IVY HUNTER
Motown Tenture: 1962-69
Career File: Songwriter, producer co-wrote or wrote "Dancing in the Street", "Ask The Lonely," many others.
Status: Lives in Southfield. Teaches tennis. Continues to write and produce.

JOE HUNTER
Motown tenure: 1959-early '60s.
Career file: Funk Brothers pianist ("Heat Wave," "Come and Get These Memories").
Status: Died in Detroit in February 2007, age 79.

ISLEY BROTHERS
Motown tenure: 1966-1969.
Career file: Vocal group ("This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)"); recorded extensively after leaving Motown ("It's Your Thing"). The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
Status of original members: Ronald Isley: A member of the group since 1956. Sentenced to three years in federal prison in 2006 for tax evasion and ordered to pay about $3.1 million to the IRS. Rudolph Isley: Left the group in 1986 to enter the ministry. O'Kelly Isley: Died March 1986 of a heart attack.

JACKSON 5
Motown tenure: 1969-1975.
Career file: Vocal group among the last big ones signed during Motown's Detroit reign ("I'll Be There," "ABC," "Dancing Machine"). In 1975, the group left Motown, with Jermaine replaced by brother Randy and the group renamed the Jacksons. In October 2008, Michael Jackson denied reports he would be joining his brothers in a Jackson 5 concert tour.
Status of original members: Jackie Jackson: Could not confirm current residence. Tito Jackson: Could not confirm current residence. Jermaine Jackson: Could not confirm current residence. Marlon Jackson: Lives in San Diego. Michael Jackson: Solo career, on which he embarked in 1979, resulted in the biggest-selling album in history, 1983's "Thriller." He moved to Bahrain in 2005 after being cleared of child molestation charges. In November 2008, he transferred ownership of his Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County, Calif., to a company he partially owns.

JAMES JAMERSON
Motown tenure: 1960-mid 1970s.Career file: Funk Brothers bassist regarded as a groundbreaking player. Battled serious alcohol problems that ultimately hampered his career.
Status: Died of pneumonia Aug. 2, 1983, in L.A. at age 45.

RICK JAMES
Motown tenure: Mid 1960s-1994.
Career file: An early pop-funk innovator, best known for 1981's "Super Freak (Part 1)." Produced the Mary Jane Girls and Teena Marie.
Status: Released album "Urban Rapsody" in fall 1997. He suffered a stroke in 1998, ending a comeback tour. Died of a heart attack in 2004. He was 56.

MARV JOHNSONMotown tenure: 1958-1959; 1965-1969
Career file: Vocalist ("Come to Me," the first record on Gordy's Tamla label, in 1959).
Status: Died May 16, 1993, at age 54.

URIEL JONES
Motown tenure: 1961-1972.
Career file: Funk Brothers session drummer, jazz musician.
Status: Enjoyed belated recognition following the "Standing in Shadows of Motown" documentary about the Funk Brothers. Died in March 2009 in Dearborn from complications due to heart issues.

MAURICE KING
Motown tenure: 1963-1970.Career file: Head of Motown's Artist Development department; performance coach for the Supremes, Temptations and others.
Status: Died of a heart attack in 1992 at age 81.

GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS
Motown tenure: 1966-1973.Career file: Vocal quartet ("I Heard It Through the Grapevine"). The group found its biggest successes in its post-Motown years, including "Midnight Train to Georgia" in 1973 and a 1989 Grammy for "Love Overboard." The group has not performed together since 1990; it was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Status of original members: Gladys Knight: Solo career; formed and directs Saints Unified Voices choir; lives in Las Vegas. Merald (Bubba) Knight: Lives in Las Vegas. Edward Patten: Suffered a stroke in 1995; died in 2005 at age 66. William Guest: Status not available.

SHORTY LONG
Motown tenure: 1964-1969.Career file: Vocalist ("Function at the Junction"; cowrote and originally sang "Devil With a Blue Dress On").
Status: Drowned in boating accident on the Detroit River in 1969, age 29.

MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS
Motown tenure: 1962-1971.Career file: Vocal trio ("Dancing in the Street"). Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Reunited in 1988, performed together until 1996.
Status of original members: Martha Reeves: Lives in Detroit. Elected to Detroit City Council in 2005; still occasionally performs as a solo singer. Rosalind Ashford Holmes: Lives in Detroit. Annette Beard Sterling: Lives in Detroit; worked for decades in laboratories at Detroit Memorial and St. John hospitals.

THE MARVELETTES
Motown tenure: 1961-1971.Career file: Vocal group ("Please Mr. Postman," "Beechwood 4-5789"). Still performing, but rights to use the name "Marvelettes" were purchased from Motown by a New York management agency, and it is not licensed to any original member.
Status of original members: Gladys Horton: Lead vocalist; performs with a group known as Gladys Horton's Marvelettes; lives in California. Wanda Young: Married and divorced Bobby Rogers of the Miracles; lives in Detroit. Katherine Anderson: Lives in Inkster. Juanita Cowart: Lives in Inkster. Georgeanna Marie Tillman (Gordon): Left the group in 1964 due to illness; died January 1980 of sickle cell anemia.

JOE MESSINA
Motown tenure: 1960-1972.
Career file: Funk Brothers guitarist.
Status: Toured with the reunited Funk Brothers; lives in Warren.

THE MIRACLES
Motown tenure: 1959-1978.Career file: Vocal quintet ("Shop Around," "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," "Ooo Baby Baby"). Four surviving original members reunited in February 1997 when they received Pioneer Awards from the R&B Foundation. Dave Finley, Tee Turner and Mark Scott (of Flint) join original member Bobby Rogers in its current incarnation. Claudette Rogers, Pete Moore and Billy Griffin occasionally make guest appearances with the group.Status of original members: William (Smokey) Robinson: Left the group in 1972; replaced by Billy Griffin; later, he became vice president of Motown. A prolific tunesmith, he wrote songs for Mary Wells, the Temptations, Gaye and the Marvelettes. Robinson was recognized for lifetime achievement in 2006 at the Kennedy Center Honors award ceremony. He still performs; lives in L.A. Bobby Rogers: Lives in Detroit. Claudette Rogers Robinson: Cousin of Bobby Rogers, married Smokey in 1959. The couple later divorced; she lives in Beverly Hills, Calif. Warren (Pete) Moore: Lives in Las Vegas. Ronnie White: Died in 1995 of leukemia.

SYLVIA MOY
Motown tenure: 1964-1971.
Career file: Songwriter ("My Cherie Amour").
Status: Moy is a native Detroiter who still lives in the city. She is CEO of recording and production companies and a founder of Masterworks, a nonprofit supporting training in media arts.

THE ORIGINALS
Motown tenure: 1965-early 1970s; 1975-1978.
Career file: Vocal group ("Baby, I'm For Real"); in the late 1960s, worked as Motown's male backup group, recording with Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.
Status of original members: C.P. Spencer: Died in 2004, age 66. Freddy Gorman: Cowriter of "Please, Mr. Postman" and "Just Like Romeo and Juliet." Died in L.A. in 2006, age 67. Walter Gaines: Lives in Glendale, Calif. Henry (Hank) Dixon: Residence not available. Joe Stubbs: Died in Detroit on Jan. 20, 1998.

MAXINE POWELL
Motown tenure: 1964-1969.Career file: Ran the Motown finishing school.
Status: Lives in Detroit and gives individual lessons in etiquette and deportment.

RARE EARTH
Motown tenure: 1969-1978.Career file: Rock band ("I Just Want to Celebrate"). Current lineup features Gil Bridges, Ray Monette, Randy Burghdoff, Mike Brunner, Floyd Stokes.
Status of some members who played during the Motown tenure: Gil Bridges: Lives in West Bloomfield; performs with current Rare Earth lineup. Pete Rivera: Lives in Southern California; performs with the Classic Rock All-Stars. Rod Richards: Lives in Panama City, Panama, and in 2008 released "Panama City Blues" di