The Prince of Soul was also the King of Flipsides. Marvin Gaye appears on half of the 45s listed in this assembly of Motown’s Top 10 most popular B sides – that is, tracks which were thought to be less commercial when originally released, but which garnered enough radio and retail action to merit their own chart placing on the Billboard Hot 100 in addition to the A side.

Marvin’s duet with Mary Wells, “Once Upon A Time,” was only marginally lower-placed in 1964 than its original A side, “What’s The Matter With You Baby.” The former reached number 19, while the latter climbed only two slots higher to peak at number 17. Marvin’s next duet partner was Kim Weston, but it was with Tammi Terrell that he scored two more flipside hits: “California Soul” (the A side was “The Onion Song,” which peaked at number 50) and “If This World Were Mine” (with “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” as the topside, which topped out at number 10).

“California Soul” was written by Valerie Simpson with partner Nick Ashford, and Motown legend has it that it’s she who sang on the track because Tammi was too ill to continue recording. That was never confirmed officially by Motown, and Valerie was equally reluctant to talk about it, then and to this day.

Stevie Wonder’s “I Don’t Know Why” began life as an A side in early 1969, but found itself flipped when “My Cherie Amour” caught radio’s attention and climbed into the Top 5. Another famous flip – but which never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 – was the Miracles’ “Who’s Lovin’ You.” It had started out as the A side in late 1960, but record buyers soon made clear that its companion, “Shop Around,” was preferred – and that became Motown’s biggest pop hit to that point, reaching number two.

For the other tracks in the Top 10, here are their charted A sides: “Doggone Right” (“Here I Go Again”), “How Can I Forget” (“Gonna Give Her All The Love I Got”), “No Matter What Sign You Are” (“The Young Folks”), “You’ve Been In Love Too Long” (“Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things)”), “7 Rooms Of Gloom” (“I’ll Turn To Stone”) and “Can I Get A Witness (“Crazy ’Bout My Baby”).




Things you need to know. This time: the most popular flipsides of hit singles

(ranked by chart peak on the Billboard Hot 100)


1)    “Once Upon A Time,” MARVIN GAYE & MARY WELLS (19)

2)    “Here I Go Again,” SMOKEY ROBINSON & MIRACLES (37)

3)    “I Don’t Know Why,” STEVIE WONDER (39)

4)    “California Soul,” MARVIN GAYE & TAMMI TERRELL (56)

5)    “Gonna Give Her All The Love I’ve Got,” MARVIN GAYE (67)

6)    “If This World Were Mine,” MARVIN GAYE & TAMMI TERRELL (68)

7)    “The Young Folks,” DIANA ROSS & SUPREMES (69)

8)    “Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things),” MARTHA & VANDELLAS (70)

9)    “I’ll Turn To Stone,” FOUR TOPS (76)

10) “I’m Crazy ’Bout My Baby,” MARVIN GAYE (77)