There are many forgotten names in the early Motown catalogue. Who remembers Nick & The Jaguars, Eugene Remus, Popcorn & The Mohawks, Lee & The Leopards, Hattie Littles or The Valadiers nowadays?
The Valadiers, however, are worthy of attention for being the first white group signed to Motown and even had a single released in the UK.
Comprising Detroit residents Stuart Avig, Martin Coleman, Art Glasser and Jerry Light, the band were signed to Motown after auditioning at Hitsville USA one day after school. Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam), released on the short-lived Miracle label, made some impact and was followed by Because I Love Her and I Found A Girl on the Gordy label.
The last of these, co-written by Martin Coleman and Stevie Wonder‘s early producer Clarence Paul, was released in March 1963.
Early that year, having scored a few releases in the UK via London and Fontana, Motown signed a deal with the relatively small Oriole label, who promptly set up the Oriole-American subsidiary, and released 19 Tamla-Motown-Gordy records, among them some of Motown’s finest work.
Within the year, much to the surprise of the Oriole staff, Motown signed with EMI and the rest is history. The Valadiers subsequently disbanded.
Avia later recorded for Detroit’s Golden World Records and Coleman eventually became a staff writer for the Jobete Music publishing company – although he did get back behind the microphone for British producer Ian Levine (as The Valadiers) in the late 80s.
Find a copy of The Valadiers’ single today and you’ll have to write a cheque for about £600 at the same time.