Cornelius Grant welcomes guests. (Ian Foxx photo)

To borrow from showbiz entrepreneur Manya Nogg’s book titled, “Age is just a number and mine is unlisted,” Motown legend Cornelius Grant had no qualms about announcing his 80th birthday, which was just celebrated with an eclectic mix of family, old schoolmates, Motown cohorts, and business partners. The private party of about 50 invited guests was held at the City Club in downtown Los Angeles on April 27th.

Grant who was bandleader for Motown’s Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, and ultimately The Temptations – along with his wife Poppy and daughters – welcomed guests that included Claudette Robinson (former member of The Miracles, and former wife of Smokey Robinson), musician extraordinaire Antonio “Tony” Newton, singer Brenda Holloway, music historian Andy Harland and other Motown affiliates.

Other invitees – Janie Bradford, Mickey Stevenson, Otis Williams, and Lee “The Voice” Bailey – unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts, offered well-wishes, nonetheless.

Classmates from Detroit’s Mumford High School included Joel Gilman, Rick Gold, Sharon Gorman, and Joyce Crenshaw who presented Grant with a wonderful pictorial album full of old classmates and friends.

Brenda Holloway (left) and Claudette Robinson (Ian Foxx photo)

Grant – a co-writer on several Motown songs – is best known for his guitar intro to The Temptations hit “(I Know) I’m Losing You.” He said he was practicing fifths on his guitar when producer Norman Whitfield happened to hear him and said he could do something with that. Whitfield recruited songwriter/lyricist Eddie Holland, and fashioned it for singer David Ruffin who nailed it! That song has been covered by Rare Earth, Rod Stewart, and many others! Another tune by The Temptations, “You’re My Everything,” also features Grant on the intro.

It wasn’t intended to be a typical “fun and frolic” party, but rather a roundtable setting where we all eagerly shared our experiences with Grant and other memorable topics. As Grant acknowledged everyone seated at the table, he paused when he got to Ruth Adkins-Robinson (an industry staple as writer and producer) to express a deep emotional appreciation for their association throughout the years at Hollywood Reporter, and many other endeavors. I was fortunate enough to be seated between her, and famed photographer Ian Foxx who captured the affair on camera. There was also a looped video collage of Grant throughout the years with many of the people he worked with.

Entertainment was provided by the fabulous acapella trio “Sizzle” who had the audience clapping, snapping, singing, and rocking to songs from doo wop, to Motown, and in between. It was fun! The service at City Club was first-class.

At the end, Anita Punjabi who is Poppy’s niece, stated “I loved the discussions that came up; I learned so much tonight!”

Larry Buford is a contributing writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” and “Book To The Future” (Amazon). He is also a former Motown songwriter. Email: [email protected]