“Do You Love Me?” became a major 1962 hit single for The Contours on Motown’s “Gordy” record label, with Berry Gordy writing and producing the song. The Contours then consisted of singers Billy Gordon, Hubert Johnson, Billy Hoggs, Joe Billingslea, Sylvester Potts, and guitarist Hugh Davis. The group had recorded and released two previous singles — “Whole Lotta’ Woman” and “The Stretch” — but neither had charted. In fact, the Contours were then in danger of being dropped from the label, until that afternoon when fate smiled upon them.“Do You Love Me?,” released in late June 1962, peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard pop singles chart, and was No. 1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart. An album titled, Do You Love Me? (Now That I Can Dance), was also released in October 1962 — the first album ever released on the Gordy Records label. The single sold over 1 million copies and the album had respectable sales as well.
“Do You Love Me?” was also covered in the U.K. by a group named Brian Poole and the Tremeloes and went No. 1 there for three weeks in October 1963. The Dave Clark Five also did a version of the song in 1964 that went to No. 11 in the U.S. The Contours, meanwhile, became a headlining act for Motown and were part of the first Motor Town Revue tour. Although no other Top 40 hits materialized for the Contours on the pop charts, they did turn out several other successful dance tunes that rose into the R&B Top 40, including, “Shake Sherry”(1962), “First I Look at The Purse” (1965), and “Just A Little Misunderstanding” (1966), among others. By 1967, the group’s seven-year contract with Motown had expired. A year later, after the Contours’ lead singer Dennis Edwards was asked to replace the departed David Ruffin of The Temptations, The Contours disbanded.
Dirty DancingBut then, more than 25 years later, lightning struck again. In 1987 came the movie, Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, which included a memorable dance scene backed by the Contours’ original “Do You Love Me?” song. The film’s soundtrack of 1960s music became wildly successful, and was soon issued in multiple editions, most of which include “Do You Love Me?”. In fact, in 1988, with the release of a follow-up soundtrack album entitled More Dirty Dancing, “Do You Love Me?” became a pop hit for a second time. By July 1988 the song, which was also re-issued as a single, peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. It remained on the chart for eight weeks. The Contours — by then comprised of Joe Billingslea and three new members — joined other 1960s stars, including Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes, Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers and others, on a “Dirty Dancing Tour.” That tour ran for ten-months, entertaining over two million fans in eight countries. Two subsequent CDs — 1989 Dirty Dancing Live In Concert and 1998’s Great Dirty Dancing Hits — also included “Do You Love Me” and other Contours songs, as well as those of other artists. Dirty Dancing soundtracks have sold more than 30 million units worldwide. As the Contours put it on their web site, “Dirty Dancing has been very good to [us].” In recent years, the surviving and replenished Contours have continued to perform in the U.S. and abroad.
Meanwhile, on the web, the Contours’ “Do You Love Me?” has shown up in a range of uses as background music — from Disney animations to one creative Happy Feet adaptation.
Date Posted: 28 July 2008
Last Update: 28 January 2010
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Jack Doyle, “Do You Love Me?, 1962 & 1988,”
PopHistoryDig.com, July 28, 2008.
Sources, Links & Additional Information
“The Contours,” in Holly George-Warren and Patricia Romanowski (eds), The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Rolling Stone Press, New York, 3rd Edition, 2001, p. 206.
“The Contours,” “Do You Love Me”, and “Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)”, Wikipedia. org.
“The Contours, 20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection,” Amapedia.Amazon.com.
For more detail on the history of The Contours see Joe Billingslea & The Contours.