Pam Sawyer

Pamela Joan Sawyer (born 1938)[2] is a British lyricist and songwriter, who started writing songs in the mid-1960s and whose credits as a co-writer at Motown included "Love Child", "If I Were Your Woman", "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)", and "Love Hangover".[3][4]

Pam Sawyer
Birth namePamela Joan Sawyer[1]
Born1938 (age 81–82)
Romford, Essex, England
Occupation(s)Lyricist and songewriter
Years activeEarly 1960s–1980s


She was born in Romford, Essex, England. Wanting to become a songwriter, she contacted Lew Grade in London, who was impressed and introduced her to visiting American pianist and composer Bob Mersey.[5] She and Mersey married in 1958, and moved to New York City in 1961.[6] After they separated, she worked as a lyricist, initially with co-writers including Helen Miller and Mark Barkan, with whom she wrote Chuck Jackson's R&B hit "If I Didn't Love You". She then teamed up with musician and singer Lori Burton, and the pair wrote songs recorded successfully by Lulu ("Try to Understand", UK No. 25, 1965), Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles ("All or Nothing", US No. 68, 1965), and The Young Rascals ("I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore", US No. 52, 1966). Sawyer and Burton also wrote and recorded together as the Whyte Boots, with Burton as lead singer, though their record company promoted the act as a trio of female singers, none of whom actually appeared on the recordings.[6][7]

In 1967, Sawyer and Burton auditioned for Holland, Dozier and Holland, who had them signed to Motown as a songwriting partnership. After a few months, Burton decided to end the arrangement, and Holland, Dozier and Holland left the organisation.[7] Sawyer began working with Ivy Hunter, and then as part of the writing collective known as the Clan, with other writers including Henry Cosby and Frank Wilson. Sawyer, Cosby and Wilson co-wrote Diana Ross and the Supremes' 1968 hit "Love Child" with R. Dean Taylor and Deke Richards, which was followed up by "I'm Livin' in Shame", co-written by Sawyer with Cosby, Wilson, Taylor and Berry Gordy The following year Sawyer co-wrote "My Whole World Ended" with Harvey Fuqua, Johnny Bristol and James Roach, for David Ruffin. Other hits followed at Motown, including Jr. Walker's "Got to Hold on to This Feeling", co-written with Johnny Bristol and Joe Hinton, and Sawyer encouraged the songwriting talents of singer Gloria Jones, co-writing Gladys Knight and the Pips' 1970 No. 1 R&B hit, "If I Were Your Woman" with Jones and Clay McMurray, and Jr. Walker's "Take Me Girl, I'm Ready" with Jones and Johnny Bristol. She also wrote with Michael Masser, sharing writing credits on "Last Time I Saw Him", a hit for both Diana Ross and country singer Dottie West, and "My Mistake (Was to Love You)", recorded as a duet by Ross and Marvin Gaye. Writing with Marilyn McLeod, she wrote Ross's number one hit in 1976, "Love Hangover", and the pair also wrote "Pops, We Love You", the tribute to Berry Gordy's father recorded by Ross, Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson.[3][7]

Sawyer left Motown in the early 1980s, and set up her own companies, Pam Sawyer Productions and Barley Lane Music.[6] She lives in Florida.

Selected songwriting creditsEdit

Song Co-Writer(s) Performer(s)
"If I Were Your Woman"[8] Gloria Jones
Clay McMurray
Gladys Knight & the Pips
Gloria Jones
Bettye LaVette
Stephanie Mills
Alicia Keys
"I Thought It Took a Little Time (But Today I Fell in Love)"[8] Michael Masser Diana Ross
"It's So Hard for Me to Say Goodbye"[8] Frank Wilson Eddie Kendricks
The Supremes
"Let Me Tickle Your Fancy"[8] Jermaine Jackson
Paul M. Jackson
Marilyn McLeod
Jermaine Jackson
"Love Child"[8] Deke Richards
R. Dean Taylor
Frank Wilson
Diana Ross and the Supremes
Booker T. & the M.G.'s
Sweet Sensation
"Love Hangover"[8] Marilyn McLeod The Fifth Dimension
Diana Ross
Jody Watley
Players Association
"My Mistake (Was to Love You)"[8] Gloria Jones Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross
"My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)"[8] Johnny Bristol
Harvey Fuqua
Jimmy Roach
David Ruffin
"You Can't Turn Me Off (In the Middle of Turning Me On)"[8] Marilyn McLeod High Inergy


  1. ^ "Pam Sawyer | Discography". Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Ancestry - Sign In".
  3. ^ a b Songs written by Pam Sawyer , Retrieved 17 April 2016
  4. ^ Posner, Gerald (24 December 2002). Motown: music, money, sex, and power. Random House. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-375-50062-6. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  5. ^ Bob Stanley, "Music To Visit", Record Collector, #496, September 2019, p.40
  6. ^ a b c Betts, Graham (2 June 2014). "Motown Encyclopedia". AC Publishing – via Google Books.
  7. ^ a b c "Steve Armitage, "Pam Sawyer: One of Motown's most distinctive lyricists", Blues & Soul, No. 102, 1973, pp.22–23". Archived from the original on 27 April 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "ACE Title Search". United States: ASCAP. Retrieved 4 August 2013.

External linksEdit