Ivy Jo Hunter, a singer and musician best known for his work at Motown — where he was one of the hit-making record label’s most prolific songwriters — passed away on Thursday, Oct. 6. He was 82.
“Ivy Jo was not only a remarkable writer and producer, but also a loving husband, father and grandfather,” the company, which credited Hunter as being behind some of its most significant hits ,tweeted. “We send our condolences to his family, friends and dedicated fans around the world.”
No cause of death has been given at this time.
Born George Ivy Hunter, the Detroit native was trained in orchestral music. Following a brief stint in the army, the songwriter spent time singing in soul clubs around the city and was eventually discovered by legendary Motown artist and repertoire executive Mickey Stevenson in the early 1960s.
The Detroit-raised Hunter was a prodigy, graduating from famed Cass Tech high school and adept at both keyboards and trumpet. He was playing around Detroit when star Motown A&R man Mickey Stevenson discovered him and signed him to the label. Hunter played on several early Motown hits, and then developed into one of the label’s key songwriters and producers — with Stevenson sometimes getting dubious cowriting credits. Such Motown smashes as the Four Tops’ “Ask The Lonely” and “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever,” Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ “Dancing In The Street,” The Contours’ “Can You Jerk Like Me” and more were all part of the dozens of compositions that Hunter wrote or produced.
Hunter’s time at Motown wasn’t all sunshine and roses. He possessed a powerful, expressive voice, and recorded several sessions for the label that were unfortunately shelved, only legitimately hitting the streets in compilations decades later. And even with his success as a songwriter, he was often assigned less established artists on the label, as Motown often “graduated” artists to the likes of Holland-Dozier-Holland and Norman Whitfield once they had had success, even if that initial success came from songwriters like Hunter.