Please Mr. Postman
In the fall of 1960, Glee Club members at Inkster High School (Michigan) formed a singing group called The Casinyets. Rumor has it that the name was an alteration of a quote by one the members: “we can’t sing yet”. The group included then 15-year-old founder Gladys Horton, who solicited older members of the Glee Club Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman, Juanita Cowart and Georgina Dobbins.
A year later the group entered a talent show under the name The Marvels, and finished fourth. First, second and third place winners of the contest were offered to audition for the Motown label, but The Marvels got a chance, too. After a second audition in front of executives, most notably Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy, they were advised that their vocals were great, but execs needed to hear something original.
Dobbins contacted William Garrett, a local musician, who offered up an unfinished blues composition he called “Please Mr. Postman”. Garrett let the girls use the song, so long as he maintained songwriting credit. Though Dobbins had no experience in songwriting, she took the project home and reshaped it overnight, adding the doo-wop angle.
Soon after, Dobbins left the group, and Wanda Young was invited to replace her. Upon performing “Please Mr. Postman” for Motown, Gordy agreed to take the group on, renaming it The Marvelettes.
The “Please Mr. Postman” single was released on Motown’s Tamla label on August 21, 1961. Initial reception was slow, but the song went on to become Motown’s first #1 hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. It also reached number one on the R&B chart.
The Beatles covered “Please Mr. Postman” live in 1962, and later included it on the group’s second album, With the Beatles (1963).
In 1974, The Carpenters revived the single and in January 1975, their version hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Easy Listening chart. It also hit number one on charts in Australia and Canada, and number two in the UK. The cover became the brother-sister act’s 12th million-selling single gold record. The Carpenters also shot a video for the song, at the famed Disneyland.
Take a trek to the past with “Please Mr. Postman” recorded by all three groups!
Original release by The Marvelettes:
The Beatles version:
The Carpenters version:
“Please Mr. Postman” has been covered or sampled by more than 15 other groups since The Marvelettes made history, including Diana Ross and the Supremes and Lil Wayne.
Which is your favorite version of this legendary song?