Marvellette founder dies

The death of Marvellette reminds us of an earlier sickle cell disease death. Today, 28th January, the BBC News Service announced the death of Gladys Horton, founder and lead singer of the 1960’s all-female Mowtown band, The Marvellettes on 26th January at the age of 66. The Marvelletes are best remembered for their 1961 number one hit “Please Mister Postman”, later covered by both The Carpenters and The Beatles.

“Please Mr. Postman”

The Marvelettes in a 1964 promotional photo: (clockwise from left) Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman and Wanda Young.

Marvellettes photograph – Tomasupten,

(Source: Tomasupten,

What is less well known is that one of the backing singers and founding members of the group was Georgeanna Tillman, who married Billy Winter of male Mowtown band The Contours in 1963. Georgeanna is reported to have had both sickle cell anaemia and lupus. Complications of her illnesses are reported to have been behind her stopping touring in 1965 and subsequently leaving the group for good. She is variously reported to have died from complications of her sickle cell anaemia/lupus on January 6th 1980, aged only 36.

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