Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Contours, The

Most famous for their song “Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance),” The Contours formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1958. Their beginning members included Billy Gordon, Joe Billingslea, Billy Hoggs, and Billy Rollins. The band originally took the name The Blenders, but later renamed themselves The Contours after the name of the recording studio, Flick and Contour Records.  After their formation, they saw a decent amount of turnover as Billy Rollins was replaced by singer Leroy Fair. Several years later Fair was replaced by Sylvester Potts, who was also a good dancer. Finally in 1960, Hubert Johnson joined the group, making it a quintet.

In 1960 The Contours signed with Berry Gordy and Motown Records.  Their first few singles did not do very well, but they kept working.  In 1962, Berry Gordy created the Gordy label and signed The Contours.  That summer they recorded “Do You Love Me,” which became an instant hit.  The track was originally intended for The Temptations, however they were not present on the day it was to be recorded.  Other hits such as “Shake Sherry,” “Can You Do It,” and “The Day When She Needed Me” followed.  In 1964 the group began having differences with Motown and a series of group members quit and rejoined the band.  By 1981 the group consisted of Joe Billingslea, Council Gay, Arthur Hinson, Martin ‘Beanie’ Upshire and C. Autry ‘Breeze’ Hatcher.

In 1988 there was a large revival of the song “Do You Love Me” when it was featured in the hit movie, “Dirty Dancing” starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.  The song once again topped charts and it re-birthed The Contours as a touring act.

Written by Ben Robinson


Concert poster displaying The Contours

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