Marv Earl Johnson (October 15, 1938 – May 16, 1993) was an American R&B and soul singer, most notable for performing on the first record to be issued from what became Motown.
He was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1938. He began his career singing with a doo-wop group called the Serenaders in the mid 1950s. In 1958, he recorded his first songs, 'My Baby-O' and 'Once Upon a Time.' The single didn't fair very well, but with budding talents not only as a singer but as a songwriter and pianist, he was discovered by Berry Gordy while Johnson performed at a carnival.
Gordy had already decided to form his first record label, Tamla, and Johnson's recording of their song "Come to Me" became the label's first single in May 1959. The fledgling label did not have national distribution and so the song was released by United Artists, and reached No.30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Johnson would co-write another four songs with Gordy.
Johnson enjoyed many hits in Australia where he racked up a total of eight Top 40 hits, including three chart-toppers. "Come To Me" was released in Australia on EMI's London Records (as were most of his Australian releases) and reached No.16 on the 2UE Top 40 in Sydney. "You Got What It Takes" was his biggest Australian hit, topping the national charts for over 16 weeks in 1960.
After "I Love The Way You Love" became a national Top 10 hit in mid 1960, Johnson flew to Australia to meet entrepreneur and Big Show creator Lee Gordon, and performed in his September Big Show, "Twist It Up". At the top of the bill were Bobby Rydell, Chubby Checker, and James Darren with Jackie Wilson, Johnson, and Barry Mann. They were supported by Johnny O'Keefe, The Delltones and Col Joye.
In the UK, he had two Top Ten hits. "You Got What It Takes", reached No.7 in 1960, and "I'll Pick a Rose for My Rose" got to No.10 in 1969. Three other recordings made the UK chart: "I Love The Way You Love", "Ain't Gonna Be That Way" and "I Miss You Baby".
After issuing his final Motown singles in the U.S. in 1968, Johnson remained with Motown working on sales and promotion throughout the 1970s. He also wrote songs for Tyrone Davis and Johnnie Taylor.
Johnson continued singing into the 1990s, releasing a solo album on the London based Motorcity Records label. He died of a stroke on 16 May 1993, in Columbia, South Carolina, at the age of 54. He is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit. (info mainly Wikipedia)