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Lamont Dozier: the Motown master craftsman who created miracles under pressure

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Lamont Dozier diesLamont Dozier was not a man much given to discussing the mystical art of songwriting and inspiration. You might have thought he would be.

There’s certainly something extraordinary about the sheer quality of the songs he wrote with Brian and Eddie Holland in the 60s and early 70s: Baby Love, Nowhere to Run, Stop! In the Name of Love, Reach Out I’ll Be There, Heatwave, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch), Band of Gold, You Can’t Hurry Love, You Keep Me Hangin On and Bernadette among them – a catalogue that meant Holland-Dozier-Holland stood out even amid the riches of songwriting and production talent assembled at Motown. There’s a fair argument for calling this collection of songs the greatest in the history of pop.

And it wasn’t just that these songs were hits – they were the kind of hits that became indelibly imprinted on the brain of anyone with even a passing interest in pop music. But Dozier took a very prosaic attitude to it all, presenting himself not as the genius he clearly was but as a man who’d simply worked hard, “banging on that piano”. “There’s no such thing as writer’s block,” he contended a few years before his death. “That’s just being lazy. That’s just something you put in your own head. ‘I don’t feel it today’ – that’s bullshit.”

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