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Fayetteville in Lincoln County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Birthplace of Ed Townsend

— Tennessee Music Pathways —

 
 
Birthplace of Ed Townsend Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, April 24, 2022
1. Birthplace of Ed Townsend Marker
Inscription.  Singer, songwriter, producer, attorney and educator, Ed Townsend remains best known for cowriting and coproducing half of Marvin Gaye's classic 1973 album, Let's Get It On. Over the course of a 50-year career, he wrote 250 published songs and scored two Hot 100 hits as an artist. He produced many artists, including the Impressions, and taught disadvantaged teenagers about the music business and addiction issues.

Edward Benjamin Townsend was born in Fayetteville on April 16, 1929, but his father, an African Methodist Episcopal minister, moved the family to Memphis when Townsend was young. After graduation, Townsend traveled abroad before studying at Wilberforce University and graduating with a degree in law from Arkansas State College, He joined the Marine Corps in 1951.

Stationed in Korea, Townsend was overheard singing by an advance man for big band leader Horace Heidt. Heidt was entertaining the troops and encouraged Townsend to try for a music career, so after his discharge Townsend went to Los Angeles to work in the record business, He produced artists and wrote songs for his own label, Encino, and made records
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under his own name for several West Coast labels.

In 1958, Townsend recorded a pop ballad, “For Your Love,” for Capitol Records. It reached No, 13 on the Hot 100. The follow-up, a revival of the 1930s pop hit, “When I Grow Too Old to Dream," reached No. 58 and became Townsend's last hit as a performer, although he recorded sporadically into the 1970s.

Switching his focus to production and songwriting. Townsend adapted to changing tastes in rhythm and blues. In 1963, he moved to New York to become musical director of the Scepter and Wand labels, whose artists included Dionne Warwick and The Shirelles. For Scepter's Serock imprint, he wrote and produced Theola Kilgore's Top 30 pop hit, “The Love of My Man.”

Townsend had known Marvin Gaye since the 1950s and guided him through contract negotiations with Motown Records before presenting him with a song, “Let's Get It On.” In Townsend's original draft, it addressed his recovery from alcoholism. “It was about the business of life. Life is life and let's get on with it.” he said. Gaye reconfigured the lyrics, and the song headlined an album that became a classic of erotic expression. Side one of Let's Get it On was cowritten and coproduced by Townsend, and the title song became a No. 1 pop and rhythm and blues hit. The album reached No. 2 on the pop LP chart and No. 1 on the R&B chart. It ranks among
Birthplace of Ed Townsend Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, April 24, 2022
2. Birthplace of Ed Townsend Marker
Rolling Stone magazine's 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2004, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Gaye and Townsend later collaborated on one more album, Here, My Dear. Townsend went on to write and produce for Curtis Mayfield's Curtom Records, including the Impressions' last Top 20 pop hit, “Finally Got Myself Together.” Later in his career, he started a mentoring program in an underprivileged town, Mound Bayou, Mississippi. and composed a show, “Rehabilitation: Been There! Done That!”

In May 2000, Townsend made his last major stage appearance as part of a PBS special, “Rock, Rhythm and Doo-Wop.” He died in San Bernardino, California, on Aug. 13, 2003.

[Inset credit] From the collections of the Center for Popular Music, Middle Tennessee State University.
 
Erected by Tennessee Music Pathways.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicIndustry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Tennessee Music Pathways series list. A significant historical date for this entry is April 16, 1929.
 
Location. 35° 8.835′ N, 86° 34.3′ W. Marker is in Fayetteville, Tennessee, in Lincoln County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Avenue South (U.S. 431) and Elk Avenue South
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, on the left when traveling north on Main Avenue South. Marker is in front of the Lincoln County Museum. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 521 Main Ave S, Fayetteville TN 37334, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. McKinney-Williams-Pitts House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Dr. Charles McKinney House (approx. ¼ mile away); Cascade (approx. ¼ mile away); Fayetteville Stone Bridge (Scale Replica) (approx. ¼ mile away); Fayetteville Calaboose Door (approx. ¼ mile away); Fayetteville Stone Bridge (approx. 0.3 miles away); King's Mountain Messenger (approx. 0.3 miles away); Trail of Tears Bell Removal Route (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fayetteville.
 
Also see . . .
1. Ed Townsend. Wikipedia entry on the singer, songwriter, producer and attorney. (Submitted on April 25, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) 

2. ED Townsend - Ed Sullivan Show. He performs "For Your Love" on the show's May 5, 1958 broadcast. (Uploaded by ILMJXXX, Oct. 12, 2015) (Submitted on April 25, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 25, 2022. It was originally submitted on April 25, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 199 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 25, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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Feb. 24, 2024