Legendary producer and songwriter Lamont Dozier visited the USC campus for the GRAMMY Camp® press day and delighted the music journalists with stories of his iconic career. The campers were thrilled to interview Mr. Dozier, but even more happy to find that he is not only warm and approachable, but also incredibly humble about his immense influence on the history of Motown, and music as a whole.
Question: As a producer, how do the other styles of music that are popular during the time you are working in influence your work?
Answer: I was recruited by Motown in 1962 to be an artist, a songwriter, and a producer, and to help develop and write for the singers. My career as a singer was sort of put on hold because Motown needed more writers and producers for the artists that they had. I started to write for people like the Supremes and others. With all of these people I had 13 #1's in a row. Nobody had ever done anything like that and it made me kind of nervous, but made me feel good, and made my mother proud of me. I started writing songs for Marvin Gaye, "How Sweet it Is," and for the Four Tops, "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch," and it just kept going on and on. Now at last count I've had 70 top 10's, and out of the 70 top 10's, 56 of them were #1's. That's quite a record that I've built up for myself, thank God. I started writing songs when I was 11, actually writing poems, and from writing poems I taught myself to write songs. By the time I was 15 I was signed to Atlantic records. I've been doing it ever since, I'm now working on my first musical, First Wives Club. It was a movie in the ‘90s and now it's a musical, I'm having the time of my life because I've always wanted to be on Broadway.
Question: Are you optimistic about the future of the music industry?
Answer: Absolutely, that is why I do what I do for the GRAMMY®s; doing work and anything I can to promote music, make people aware, and help along would-be songwriters, people that want to get in the business. So many people want to get into the business but don't know how. It's a form of payback for me because music has been so wonderful to me that I want to continue that legacy, make hits, keep recording artists. Anyway I can help I'm here to do my bit because music has been my life's blood in more ways than one.
Question: What advice would you give kids, like those at GRAMMY Camp, for maintaining a career in the music industry?
Answer: You have to be committed. You have to have that drive and passion because there's so much competition. You have to have your blinders on, like when people ask you "Why would you want to do something like that?" It's hard, but everything is hard. You just have to have the heart, a big enough heart and thick skin to with stand all of the negative things. I knocked on doors when I was a kid, anybody I thought had a recording studio that could record me or do something for me. I just wouldn't give up.