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The Originals

Baby, I'm For Real

The Originals

Baby, I'm For Real


Patience was a virtue at Motown. The Originals had added flawless vocal harmonies to hits by Jimmy Ruffin, Shorty Long, Marvin Gaye, David Ruffin, and Stevie Wonder while long awaiting their breakthrough song. Gaye finally provided it for them.


First tenor C.P. Spencer (born January 13, 1938), tenor Hank Dixon, and baritone Walter Gaines started out in The Five Stars, whose '57 Mark-X single Ooh, Shucks was Berry Gordy's first production. Bass singer Freddie Gorman first recorded with The Quailtones for Josie in 1955 before hooking on as an early Motown songwriter, co-penning The Supremes' debut I Want A Guy and The Marvelettes' '61 smash Please Mr. Postman (ironically, he was a letter carrier at the time). He made a solo single for Motown's Miracle logo and then broke away to cut two singles for local rival Ric-Tic. In between, he co-wrote The Reflections' 64 hit (Just Like) Romeo & Juliet.

Lamont Dozier was the catalyst for the formation of The Originals. Their first 45 on Motown's Soul subsidiary, a rock and roll reading of Goodnight Irene with ex-Falcons lead Joe Stubbs fronting, went nowhere. "We went to Motown with Holland-Dozier-Holland to produce us, then they left," said the late Gorman. "So there we were at Motown without a producer. It was kind of an awkward situation."  Back down to a quartet, they floundered a bit more before Gaye stepped in with the breathtaking doo-wop-drenched Baby, I'm For Real. Paul Riser's sweeping arrangement further increased its beauty. Staffer Richard Morris had to sponsor Gaye as a producer.

"Marvin and I used to do record hops," said Gorman, born April 11, 1939 in Detroit. "Walter knew him when he came to town from Washington. He had listened to our harmonies, especially when we were doing the background thing for him. He knew everybody, and just like myself, he was swept by the harmony. Because he was a group man himself, coming out of the Moonglows.

"He got us together and said he had a song for us. We went over to his house, and it was 'Baby, I'm For Real.' We started working on it. Everybody just knew right off. He had the idea of switching parts. You had four different leads on 'Baby, I'm For Real,'" said Gorman. "A lot of people when we first got out there were so shocked–-they thought it was one person leading, maybe two, but definitely not four. I did the first verse, Hank does the second verse, Walter does the bridge, and then C.P. comes in."

After all those years of anonymity, the Originals were overnight sensations when Baby, I'm For Real topped the R&B charts and made a #14 pop impression. Its impact forced the retitling of their debut album 'Green Grow The Lilacs,' where the song first appeared; the set was repressed as 'Baby, I'm For Real.' Gaye also helmed their equally ethereal 1970 hit followup The Bells. The quartet made smaller hits for Motown into the mid-'70s, but Baby, I'm For Real remained their calling card.


"It's just one of those kind of songs that, it just stays," said Freddie, who died June 13, 2006 (Spencer passed away October 20, 2004). "It touches people."

- Bill Dahl -

Various - Sweet Soul Music

Various - Sweet Soul Music 30 Scorching Classics From 1965

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