You see Elgie Stover's (aka Russaw) name on songs and wonder who the man is who usually collaborated with the late Marvin Gaye. Stover is one of those music business hustlers who hung around the business for years. He grew up in Cleveland, OH, on Belvedere, a little alley-like court off East 66th Street in the Hough area. His cousin is Harvey Fuqua and from the time Fuqua disbanded the Moonglows to become an entrepreneur in the recording business, eventually landing a plum position at Motown, Stover's been near his famous cousin.
When Fuqua ran Tri-Phi/Harvey Records, Stover did what he could to help out and even worked as the road manager for Challengers III featuring Ann Bogan and the Spinners; he escorted the acts around in a red Cadillac to do lip synch shows at P.O.C. (Portland Outwaithe Community Center), the Friendly Inn, and the Play-Mor. Quiet and reserved, Stover was an odd choice for road manager duties; he didn't write for the label, but did other tasks. When Harvey and Gwen Fuqua-Gordy merged with Motown, Stover's name began popping up on songs, he didn't contribute to many, but the ones he did were usually of some note; in addition, he worked in the company's mailroom.
He contributed to "Just to Keep You Satisfied," a brilliant, understated, eloquent ballad first recorded by Marvin Gaye and updated by Lisa Stansfield, Nancy Wilson, and Randy Crawford. Marvin Gaye cut "At Last I Found a Love" and "Change What You Can," Edwin Starr also recorded the former. He was one of four writers on Tata Vega's best-ever "Come in Heaven (Earth Is Calling)." And co-wrote "Flying High (In the Friendly Sky)" and "God Is Love" for Gaye's acclaimed What's Going On album where he was also part of the opening greeting's ambiance on the title track. His most recorded song remains "The Bells," originally by the Originals, co-written with Gaye, Anna, and Iris Gordy, it's been recorded by everybody from Aaron Neville to Process & the Doo Rags.
When Motown relocated to California, Gaye followed and Stover went along too. He was always a big favorite at Motown's picnics for his barbecuing skills, which he then turned into a lucrative catering business in Hilton Head, SC. He's catered for former President Bill Clinton, his staff, and Secret Service men at the ex-Presidents' annual Renaissance Weekend twice. Clinton and crew enjoyed the ribs and fixings so much that he sent Stover a signed thank you note and requested to meet him; Stover refused cause he was covered with barbecue sauce and wasn't dressed properly, but took Clinton up the second time he offered to meet the songwriter turned barbecue guru.
He was made an honorary member of the 547th Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit when his barbecue made some explosive sniffing dogs forget what they were doing. He runs a rib joint called Elgie Stover's Pit Barbecue and usually places first for Best Ribs and third for Best Barbecue at area rib burn offs. Elgie also has a 10-year younger brother Kenny Stover (52 in 2001) who carved an interesting career on his own.