Billy Gordon, Billy Hoggs, Joe Billingslea and Billy Rollins founded a singing group called The Blenders in their native Detroit, Michigan in 1959. The group soon added Leroy Fair (in place of Billy Rollins), bass singer Hubert Johnson, and guitarist Huey Davis, and auditioned for Berry Gordy’s Motown Records. Gordy turned the act down, prompting Johnson to call his cousin, R&B star and Gordy associate Jackie Wilson. Wilson in turn got The Contours a second audition with Gordy, at which they sang the same songs they had at the first audition, the same way, and were signed to the company.
The group’s first singles, “Whole Lotta Woman” and “The Stretch”, were unsuccessful, and the group was in danger of being let go. Also at this time, Leroy Fair was replaced with Sylvester Potts. In early 1962, Gordy had the Contours record “Do You Love Me”, a composition originally meant for The Temptations. The resulting record, with its shouted lead vocals from Billy Gordon, became a number-two hit 1962.
In 1964, Billy Hoggs, Joe Billingslea, Hubert Johnson, and Sylvester Potts all quit the group. Berry Gordy hired Co...