In 1959, The Satintones, a five-singer band that included Robert Bateman, became the first to sign on with Barry Gordy’s Tamla label. According to his obituary in The Telegraph, Bateman and his band helped out at the fledgling studio “while waiting for fame to strike.”
Bateman (April 30, 1936-October 12, 2016) was sound engineer on hits like “Money,” “Do You Love Me?” and “Shop Around.” But he also filled in as road manager, bus driver, backup singer, producer and talent scout.
“Please, Mr. Postman,” which was written by Bateman and four others, was recorded in 1961 by The Marvelettes, a group Bateman had recommended to Gordy. It became Motown’s first #1 hit on the Top 100, setting the stage for many more mainstream hits to come from black performers. The song was famously covered by The Beatles in 1963 and reached #1 again in 1975 when recorded by The Carpenters.