Wanda LaFaye Rogers, famously known as Wanda Young, co-lead singer of Motown group The Marvelettes, has died at age 78.
No other details on her death have been publicly shared. Her passing was confirmed by Claudette Robinson of The Miracles.
Motown’s first No.1 hit was The Marvelettes single “Please Mr. Postman.”
“We were all surprised when ‘Postman’ hit so big,” member Katherine Anderson told the group’s biographer, Marc Taylor.
“Motown became even more known once we hit with Please Mr. Postman.’ In my opinion, where Motown wanted to go. The Marvelettes came in and kicked the door open.”
“Wanda Young had this little voice that was sexy to me, a little country kind of sexy voice. I knew if I could get a song for her, it would be a smash,” said Smokey Robinson.
Robinson took to Wanda’s unique voice and gave her some of his most memorable songs, including 1965’s “Don’t Mess With Bill” and the following year’s “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game.” Soon after, there was “My Baby Must Be A Magician,” ignited by Marv Tarplin’s guitar intro and Temptation Melvin Franklin’s basso profundo.
Stevie Wonder remembered playful ribbing from Wanda during the Motown days. In an interview with Goldmine from 1999, he said, “Martha Reeves used to show me all the new dances to do. I was very fortunate to meet a family like the Gordy family, like Motown. Everyone over 11 was a parent. Clarence Paul loved me like his own son. He was like a father, like a brother and friend. Esther Edwards, Berry Gordy’s sister…all the musicians and artists watched over me. Wanda [Young] of The Marvelettes would always tell me when she thought I was eating too much candy. I wish kids today could have the same kind of caring expressed and shown to them.”
After signing on with Motown in 1962, Wanda’s first child was born. A year later she married her longtime boyfriend Bobby Rogers, a member of the Miracles. They had two children and divorced in 1975 after 12 years of marriage.
Young reportedly struggled with substance abuse and alcoholism for years following the Marvelettes’ departure, largely due to witnessing the shooting death of her sister.