The Marvelettes' career epitomized the haphazard progress endured by many of the leading girl-groups of the early 60s. The group was formed in the late 50s by five students at Inkster High School in Michigan, USA: Gladys Horton, Georgeanna Marie Tillman (d. 6 January 1980), Wanda Young, Katherine Anderson and Juanita Grant. They were spotted at a school talent show by Robert Bateman of the Satintones, who introduced them to Berry Gordy, head of the fledgling Motown organization. Bateman co-produced their early releases with Brian Holland, and the partnership found immediate success with "Please Mr Postman" - a US number 1 in 1961, and Motown's biggest-selling record up to that point. This effervescent slice of pop-R&B captivated teenage audiences in the USA, and the song was introduced to an even wider public when the Beatles recorded a faithful cover version on their second album.
After an attempt to repeat the winning formula with "Twistin' Postman", the Marvelettes made the Top 20 again in 1962 with "Playboy" and the chirpy "Beechwood 4-5789". The cycle of line-up changes was already underway, with Juanita Grant's departure reducing the group to a four-piece. The comparative failure of the next few singles also took its toll, and by 1965, Tillman had also left. The remaining trio, occasionally augmented by Florence Ballard of the Supremes, was paired with producer/writer Smokey Robinson. He tailored a series of ambitious hit singles for the group, the most successful of which was "Don't Mess With Bill" in 1966 - although "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game' was arguably a more significant achievement.