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Sample Autograph Signature: Marv Johnson

American R&B and soul singer, recording artist, songwriter and pianist. Marvin Earl Johnson (1938 - 1993) was born in Detroit, Michigan where he was raised in a musical environment that mixed the gospel music of the Baptist church with jazz. While in high school in the mid-1950s, he began his career singing with the "The Junior Serenaders", a doo-wop group that performed at local carnivals and fairs. In 1958, Johnson made a single with "The Band Of Harold 'Beans' Bowles" which failed to sell, but the recording session resulted in his meeting songwriter Berry Gordy, Jr. who would shortly incorporate Motown Records in January, 1959. Gordy, also from Detroit, place Johnson placed under contract and Johnson debuted on Motown's first record, Come to Me", released that same May. The song eventually reached No. 6 on the R&B charts and No. 30 on the pop charts, but because Gordy's new label didn't have distribution outside of Detroit, it was released nationally by United Artists. Gordy lost direct control of his first discovery after United Artists signed Johnson directly, but continued as the singer's manager. During the next two years, he would issue a top 40 single, (You've Got To) Move Two Mountains and nine Hot 100 singles including two top ten singles, You Got What It Takes and I Love The Way You Love. Johnson's contract was dropped by United Artists after the Beatles changed America's tune. Johnson returned to Motown, but he never had another American hit although his final 1968 Motown single, I'll Pick a Rose for My Rose, earned a British gold record for Motown. He remained with Motown working on sales and promotion throughout the 1970s and also wrote songs for Tyrone Davis and Johnny Taylor. Despite his recording career ending in the late 1960's, he remained active on stage into the 1990's. in fact, he died two days after suffering a stroke backstage following his performance at a tribute concert for Bill Pinkney of The Drifters in Columbia, South Carolina.

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