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Passings: Marlene Judy Barrow-Tate of Motown Backup Group the Andantes

At Motown in the 60's, the instrumental tracks were handled by the Funk Brothers and, in many cases, the background vocals by the Andantes.

Marlene Judy Barrow-Tate, one of the three original members of the group, died on Monday at the age of 73. No cause of death has been announced.

Barrow, Jackie Hicks and Emily Phillips originally formed the group in 1958 with Phillips leaving in 1961 and replaced by Louvain Demps.

In 1962, the trio started doing backup vocals on many of Motown's singles starting in 1962, including five chart toppers, Mary Wells' My Guy, the Four Tops' I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) and Reach Out I'll Be There, Diana Ross & the Supremes' Love Child and Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through the Grapevine.

Outside of the number 1 spot, they were heard on numerous other Motown recordings from the decade:
  • Twelve other Four Tops hits including Baby I Need Your Loving, It's the Same Old Song, Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over), Standing in the Shadows of Love, Bernadette and Still Water (Love)
  • Six additional singles for Diana Ross and the Supremes, substituting for Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong, including I'm Living in Shame, The Composer and No Matter What Sign You Are.
  • Seven Martha Reeves and the Vandellas singles including Jimmy Mack.
  • Fourteen Marvalettes singles starting as additional vocalists in 1965 and replacing the group in 1967 on songs such as Don't Mess With Bill, The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game and My Baby Must Be a Magician.
  • Four singles for the Temptations including It's Growing.
  • Over fifteen Marvin Gaye recordings such as How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You), I'll Be Doggone, Ain't That Peculiar, Too Busy Thinking About My Baby and That's the Way Love Is
Barrow-Tate also filled in for Florence Ballard at a number of Supremes live shows.

The Andantes also released a few recordings of their own including 1963's Too Hurt to Cry, Too Much in Love to Say Goodbye with the Marvelettes under the name of the Darnells and 1964's (Like a) Nightmare

Outside of Motown, the trio also backed Jackie Wilson on (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.

The group broke up in 1973 with each of the members going on to do studio and demo work. In 1989, Barrow-Tate, Hicks, Demps and newcomer Pat Lewis reformed the Andante's for Britain's Motorcity Records, a label that aimed to resurrect the careers of former Motown artists. They recorded a number of sides for the label but none ever made any inroads on the charts. 

Barrow-Tate and the Andantes were a member of the 2014 class for the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame.