Friday, October 7, 2022

Motown Legend, Ivy Jo Hunter, Dies at 82

Ivy Jo Hunter

Ivy Jo Hunter, a singer and musician best known for his work at Motown — where he was one of the hitmaking record label's most prolific songwriters — passed away on Thursday (Oct. 6). He was 82.

SoulTrack's Chris Rizik first broke the news, and the Motown Museum confirmed it on Twitter with a poignant post remembering the legacy of the man behind many of its classic releases.

"Ivy Jo was not only a remarkable writer and producer, but also a loving husband, father and grandfather," the company, which credited Hunter as being behind some of its most significant hits tweeted, "We send our condolences to his family, friends and dedicated fans around the world."

No cause of death has been given at this time.

Born George Ivy Hunter, the Detroit native was trained in orchestral music. Following a brief stint in the army, he spent time singing in soul clubs around the city and was eventually discovered by legendary Motown A&R man Mickey Stevenson in the early 1960s.  

Stevenson signed the adept pianist and trumpeter to the label. There he spent time playing keyboards on Motown albums as a session musician before he eventually was made a principal in the studio's house band, playing on some of the label's biggest hits.

At the same time, Stevenson began working with him as a songwriter. Together the duo is credited with writing many of the studio's classics. Hunter’s songs were recorded by Motown's biggest acts including "Truly Yours" by the Spinners, the Temptation's "Sorry Is a Sorry Word" and the Isley Brothers' "Behind a Painted Smile."

He also wrote and produced hits for Martha & the Vandellas, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin, among many others.

Eventually, Hunter parted ways with the label when it moved to California. Though he continued to work as a vocalist during his time at the label and recorded many demos and other compositions only two of his singles were ever released by the company, both under its VIP subsidiary. "I Remember When (Dedicated to Beverly)" in 1970 and the following year "I'd Still Love You."

A planned album with the working title "Ivy Jo is in this Bag" was shelved when he left Motown.

Hunter continued to enjoy success in the music world following his departure. He played keyboards on Funkadelic's "Mommy, What's a Funkadelic?" in 1970 and later co-produced a hit album for former Dramatics' lead singer William "Wee Gee Howard."

He also remained active in his hometown's music scene. In 2009 Hunter participated in Motown's 50th-anniversary celebration.

British songwriter and producer, Ian Levine, one of his longtime collaborators mourned his death on social media.

"It broke my heart to learn of the death of my friend, my co-writer and my co-producer, the incredible genius Ivy Jo Hunter," Levine wrote in a tweet, noting that he had written over fifty songs with Hunter.

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