Robert Bateman

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Robert Bateman played a key part in the early success of Motown Records having been a staff producer, a talent scout, and engineer with the label in the early '60s. He also co-wrote the million-selling…
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Robert Bateman played a key part in the early success of Motown Records having been a staff producer, a talent scout, and engineer with the label in the early '60s. He also co-wrote the million-selling "Please Mr. Postman," Motown's first number one pop smash. "...Postman" hit number one two times performed by two different acts. Bateman also co-wrote the classic ballad "If You Need Me" with Wilson Pickett and Sonny Sanders. Solomon Burke's version parked at number two R&B for five weeks and "Right Now and Not Later" was recorded by the Shangri-Las.

Bateman was the uncle of singer/songwriter/producer Jeffree Perry whose credits include the steppers classic "Love's Gonna Last," "100 Proof Aged in Soul," Diana Ross' "One Love in My Lifetime," and Jackie Wilson's Beautiful Day." He co-produced several Motown acts with Brian Holland under their condensed pseudonym of Brianbert. A friend of Marvelettes member Georgia Dobbins offered a blues song called "Please Mr. Postman." Dobbins rewrote the song, retaining only the title. Teaching the rest of the group to sing, Dobbins retired from the group to care for her ailing mother. She was replaced by Wanda Young.

The group took the song to producers Bateman and Holland. The group rehearsed for two weeks before recording "Please Mr. Postman" with a 22-year-old drummer named Marvin Gaye. The Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman" b/w "So Long Baby" went gold, holding the number one R&B spot for seven weeks and went to number one pop on Billboard's charts in fall 1961. Bateman also co-wrote its follow-ups, "Twistin' Postman" and the number four R&B hit "Playboy." Flushed with the success of "Please Mr. Postman," Bateman trekked to New York for find bigger opportunities. Nothing major developed and Bateman found himself back in Detroit. He produced one of the few solo singles of founding Supremes member Florence Ballard, "Love Ain't Love" on ABC Records.

"Please Mr. Postman" was covered by the Carpenters on their Horizon album. Released as a single, it went to number one pop in early 1975. The Beatles' version can be found on The Complete BBC Sessions.