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the contours

The Contours

The Contours (at various times) comprised of:

Billy Gordon (lead vocalist) (d. 1999)

Joe Billingslea (b. 14th November 1937, Hamtramck, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Sylvester Potts (b. Sylvester Potts, 1938, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 6th January 2017, Detroit Hospital, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Leroy Fair (d. December 2004)

Hubert Johnson (b. 14th January 1941. d. 11th July 1981 suicide)

Billy Hoggs

Charles Davis (d. 23rd February 2000, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Huey Marvin Davis (guitar. b. 17th August 1939, Columbus, Mississippi, U.S.A. d. 23rd February 2002, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Dennis Edwards

dennis edwards

Dennis Edwards (b. Dennis Wayne Edwards Jnr, b. Fairfield, Alabama, U.S.A. d. 1st February 2018, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.)

Joe Stubbs (b. Joseph Stubbles 1942, d. 5th February 1998)

Benny Reeves (Martha Reeves brother)

Darell Nunlee

Al Chisholm

Gary Grier

Council Gay

Arthur Hinson

Martin Upshire

Jerry Green

Alvin English


C. Autry Hatcher

The Contours were originally from Detroit in Michigan.

The Contours

Their first incarnation saw the group under the name of The Blenders during 1959.

The Blenders comprised of Joe Billingslea, Billy Gordon, Billy Hoggs, and Billy Rollin adding Leroy Fair (in the place of Billy Rollins) and bass singer Hubert Johnson in a later group arrangement.

A year later, the group changed it's name to the Contours and in the autumn of 1960, the group auditioned for Berry Gordy's Motown Records, following a little assistance from Jackie Wilson.

Berry Gordy initialled wasn't that interested in the group, although Jackie Wilson's persistance realised a second audituion, which proved more fruitful.

Do You Love MeDo You Love Me

do you love me - album / single 1962

They were granted a contract in early 1961 and released a few sides (including 'Whole Lotta Woman' and 'The Stretch'), prior to the release of their biggest hit, 'Do You Love Me' in 1962.

The song was a huge R & B hit, topping those charts and reaching number 3 in the U.S. pop listings.

Leroy Fair was then replaced by Benny Reeves, brother of Martha Reeves.

Benny was then drafted into the United States Navy and he was replaced by Sylvester Potts.

'Do You Love Me' was later covered by Brian Poole And The Tremeloes, Faron's Flamingo's and the Dave Clark Five.

Shake SherryFirst I Look At The Purse

shake sherry 45 - 1963 / first i look at the purse 45 - 1965

The single was followed up, 'Shake Sherry', in 1963, and 'Can You Do It' and 'Can You Jerk Like Me', in 1964.

In 1964, Billy Hoggs, Joe Billingslea, Hubert Johnson, and Sylvester Potts all departed Motown.

Billy Hoggs later became a minister and is a Jehovah's Witness in Mt. Pleasant.

Council Gay, Jerry Green and Alvin English were all recruited to support Billy Gordon, converting the Contours a quartet.

Sylvester Potts then returned to the group (replacing Alvin English), and Billy Gordon then left the group.

He was later to have drug issues and was imprisoned for a period.

Billy was also married to Georgeanna Tillman of the Marvelettes.

Joe Billingslea later spent 13 years as a corrections officer and once imprisoned Billy Gordon.

Joe Stubbs was Billy's replacement, who was the brother of the Four Tops lead singer, Levi Stubbs and an ex member of the group the Falcons.

When Joe left, Dennis Edwards filled his shoes leaving the line-up a completely changed arrangement from their original incarnation.

Further singles followed including Smokey Robinson's tune 'First I Look At The Purse', and the dance number 'Just A Little Misunderstanding'.

Although 'It's So Hard Being A Loser' (released in 1967) was the Contours' last official single, however, posthumous releases, kept their name alive.

The Contours then went their seperate ways, with Dennis Edwards being recruited to replace David Ruffin as lead singer of The Temptations in early 1968.

Versions of the Contours appeared on the revival circuit from 1972 onwards.

Joe Billingslea reformed the group with himself, along with Council Gay, Arthur Hinson, Martin Upshire and C. Autry Hatcher in the line-up.

Hubert Johnson committed suicide in 1981 by swallowing rat poison.

Baby Hit And RunA New  Direction

baby hit and run - 1974 / a new direction - 2000

In 1984, Charles Davis replaced Arthur Hinson and a Sylvester Potts rejoined the group replacing Council Gay.

In 1987, C. Autry Hatcher left the group and Arthur Hinson returned.

In 1988, Darell Nunlee was added when Martin Upshire left.

That year , 'Do You Love Me' returned to the U.S. Top 20 after its inclusion in the film 'Dirty Dancing'.

A version featuring Joe Billingslea, Sylvester Potts, Arthur Hinson, Charles Davis and Darrel Nunlee issued 'Running In Circles' on lan Levine's Motor City label in 1990.

Earlier, the former lead vocalist Joe Stubbs also recorded 'Round And Round' for the same label.

Joe Stubbs died on the 5th February 1998 from a heart condition whilst Huey Davis died at his home on 23rd February 2002.

From 1993 to 2004, the group featured Joe Billingslea, Al Chisholm, Charles Davis, Gary Grier and Sylvester Potts.

In 2004, Sylvester Potts left to form his own group called Upscale, which immediately began performing under the name of the Contours, which did cause some discussion amongst original group members.

The resulting discussions led to two versions of the Contours performing on the live circuit, namely, 'Joe Billingslea and The Contours', and 'The Contours featuring Sylvester Potts'.

Sylvester passed away in hospital in Detroit, January 2017.

The Contours

For further information on the activities of Darrel Nunlee, please click here

Real Player


Do You Love Me (Gordy Records 1962)

Baby Hit And Run (MFP Records 1974)

Flashback (Motor City Records 1990)

The Very Best Of (Hot Productions 1996)

A New Direction (Orchard Records 2000)

The Contours Live II (2003)

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