Hello, The Contours are an R&B group from Detroit, Michigan. Members included, Billy Gordon, Joe Billingslea, Billy Hoggs, Sylvester Potts, Huey Davis and Hubert Johnson. Dennis Edwards who joined the group in 1967 became a member of The Temptations in 1968. Hubert Johnaon was a cousin of sould legend, Jackie Wilson. Billy Gordon was married to Georgeanna Tillman of The Marvelettes. Through the years there were many changes to The Contours line-up.
Joe Billingslea and Billy Gordon founded a singing group they named The Blenders in their hometown of Detroit, Michigan in 1959. Billy Hoggs and Billy Rollins were soon added to the group. Leroy Fair became a member and replaced Billy Rollins, bass singer Hubert Johnson also joined the group around this time. They changed the group’s name to The Contours. In 1960 they auditioned for Berry Gordy’s Motown Records. He turned them down. The group called on Hubert Johnson’s cousin…Jackie Wilson, who arranged for a second audition…this time they were signed to a seven-year recording contract.
The groups first single was WHOLE LOTTA’ WOMAN, released in 1961. The record failed to chart. Later in 1961 The Contours second single was released, THE STRETCH, it also failed to chart. In early 1962 Gordy had the group record a song that was originally meant for The Temptations. The song was, DO YOU LOVE ME…and as the story goes, the rest is history.
On August 11, 1962 The Contours recording of DO YOU LOVE ME on Motown’s, Gordy Records label made its Billboard Hot 100 debut. The single became a huge hit, charting at #3 and remaining on the Hot 100 for 18 weeks. On August 25, 1962 the single entered the Billboard R&B singles chart. The Contours hit went to #1 on the R&B chart and holding the top spot for 3 weeks. DO YOU LOVE ME sold over 1 million records and was awarded a “Gold Record”.
In December of 1962 they were back on the Hot 100 with SHAKE SHERRY, it climbed to #43 on the pop chart and #21 when it crossed over to the R&B singles chart. In 1964 they had a #16 R&B hit with CAN YOU DO IT. The record would climb to #41 on the Hot 100. In December of 1964 CAN YOU JERK LIKE ME became a #47 Hot 100 hit. The single did much better on the R&B chart, becoming a Top 20 hit at #15.
In August of 1965 the group charted their second biggest R&B hit, FIRST I LOOK AT THE PURSE, a record that would just miss the Top 10, charting at #12 and #57 on the pop chart. In 1966 The Contours would chart their last Top 20 R&B hit, JUST A LITTLE MISUNDERSTANDING, the single would reach #18. It would just reach the Hot 100 at #85.
The Contours disbanded in 1968. In the early 1970s, Joe Billingslea re-formed the group with new members. They began performing at local clubs around the Detroit area. In the late 70s and early 80s they began to tour the country. In 1988 the box office smash movie, “Dirty Dancing” starring Partick Swayze…featured The Contours original recording of DO YOU LOVE ME in the film and on the movie soundtrack album. The record became a smash hit all over again. The single charted at #11 and remained on the Hot 100 for 16 weeks.
Founding member Joe Billingslea continues to perform with his group, “The Contours with Joe Billingslea”. DO YOU LOVE ME has been selected by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the songs that helped shape rock and roll…it is truly one of the great rock and roll classics from the “GOLDEN ERA OF ROCK AND ROLL”.
Till the next time—Joe