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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Don't Be Fooled By Oakland's Alan Young -- Here's a Guide to the Motown Stars He Impersonates

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Bittersweet indeed.
  • Bittersweet indeed.
As you may have heard, there's been a rash of misdemeanorly winings and dinings going on about town lately -- well, for the last couple of decades -- at the hands of one Alan Young, an Oakland sanitation worker with a knack for passing himself off as various Motown luminaries for long enough to be shown a good time by people who haven't been keeping up to date on what the Motown luminaries in question look like. This time around he was caught claiming to be Lamont Dozier, on whom more in a moment. The time before that, it was Cornelius Grant ("the unsung Temptation"), but according to this East Bay Express piece from 2002 (2002!), there's been a long line of ideally vague-faced black gentlemen of a certain age: 

Young had also passed himself off as one-time Temptations lead singer Ali "Ollie" Woodson, jazz bassist Marcus Miller, and vocalist James Alexander of funk group the Bar-Kays. Even under his own name, Young has played the celebrity con game claiming -- sometimes simultaneously -- to be the son of jazz drummer Lester Young, a musical affiliate and close friend of R&B crooner Luther Vandross, an arranger for jazz singer Nancy Wilson, an associate of Miles Davis, and the head of a fictitious production company.

Civic-minded as we are, we figured this was as good a time as any to revisit the work of some of Young's impersonatees. 

Dozier, who, uh, put the Dozier in Holland-Dozier-Holland, coproduced and arranged a wealth of Motown hits, including "Stop! In the Name of Love," "You Can't Hurry Love," and "Where Did Our Love Go," the Supremes song best known as the second half of the long edit of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" that radio stations across the world inexplicably fail to realize is a separate song: 

Dozier also had an estimable solo career; sample nerds and fans of Atmosphere (whose seventh album, The Family Sign, is out today) will dig the soulful lining of "The Woman with the Tattooed Hands" here: 

Cornelius Grant was an on-and-off member of the Temptations, and co-wrote his own share of songs from the Motown scene. The unexpectedly rockist guitar riff in "(I Know) I'm Losing You" was his doing: 

Latter-day Temptation Ali-Ollie Woodson begins Young's existential transition out of the Motown era; see this 1985 number, which Woodson co-wrote (and played keyboards on -- keyboards!):

Here's sometime Miles Davis and Luther Vandross collaborator Marcus Miller slapping the bass with the best of them:

And here are the Bar-Kays: 

Is this little tutorial exhaustive? Far from it. Will it help you avoid being conned next time Norman Connors or Marvin Tarplin sidles up to you at a Giants game and asks you to buy him a hot dog? Probably not. But just exercise common sense, people. 

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