Motown great Ivy Joe Hunter dies at age 82

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    For those of us who grew up on the iconic music of Motown, the last few years have brought us news of too many deaths of friends. And tonight, we mourn that passing of Motown singer, songwriter and producer, the great Ivy Jo Hunter. He was 82.

    The Detroit-raised Hunter was a prodigy, graduating from famed Cass Tech high school and adept at both keyboards and trumpet. He was playing around Detroit when star Motown A&R man Mickey Stevenson discovered him and signed him to the label. Hunter played on several early Motown hits, and then developed into one of the label's key songwriters and producers (with Stevenson sometimes getting dubious co-writing credits). Such Motown smashes as the Four Tops' "Ask The Lonely" and "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever," Martha Reeves and the Vandellas' "Dancing In The Street," The Contours' "Can You Jerk Like Me" and more were all part of the dozens of compositions that Hunter wrote or produced.

    For those of us who grew up on the iconic music of Motown, the last few years have brought us news of too many deaths of friends. And tonight, we mourn that passing of Motown singer, songwriter and producer, the great Ivy Jo Hunter. He was 82.

    The Detroit-raised Hunter was a prodigy, graduating from famed Cass Tech high school and adept at both keyboards and trumpet. He was playing around Detroit when star Motown A&R man Mickey Stevenson discovered him and signed him to the label. Hunter played on several early Motown hits, and then developed into one of the label's key songwriters and producers (with Stevenson sometimes getting dubious co-writing credits). Such Motown smashes as the Four Tops' "Ask The Lonely" and "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever," Martha Reeves and the Vandellas' "Dancing In The Street," The Contours' "Can You Jerk Like Me" and more were all part of the dozens of compositions that Hunter wrote or produced.

    Hunter's time at Motown wasn't all sunshine and roses. He possessed a powerful, expressive voice, and recorded several sessions for the label that were unfortunately shelved, only legitimately hitting the streets in compilations decades later. And even with his success as a songwriter, he was often assigned less established artists on the label, as Motown often "graduated" artists to the likes of Holland-Dozier-Holland and Norman Whitfield once they had had success, even if that initial success came from writers like Hunter.

    When Motown moved to California, Hunter parted ways with the label, and continued to work in Detroit. He teamed on some songs for P-Funk, and also wrote the now-classic, anthemic "Hold On To Your Dreams" for former Dramatics singer Wee Gee, a song that has grown in gravitas over the years and has been successfully remade by The Chi-Lites and Living Proof.

    Hunter remained a legend in his hometown, and was generous with his time and his talent over the years. He will be missed by the entire music world.

    By Chris Rizik

     
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