Don't Mess With Bill

Album: Greatest Hits (1965)
Charted: 7

Songfacts®:

  • The Marvelettes consisted of Gladys Horton, Georgia Dobbins, Juanita Cowart, Georgeanna Tillman and Katherine Anderson - all from Inkster, Michigan. The group was originally known as the "Casinyets." Casinyet was a contraction for "Can't Sing Yet." Horton formed the group to enter a high-school talent competition.
  • This song was written by William "Smokey" Robinson, who achieved legendary status in the music business himself, first with the Miracles and then as a solo artist. Robinson's hits as an artist have included: "Shop Around," "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," "Mickey's Monkey," "Ooo Baby Baby," "The Tracks of My Tears," "Going to a Go-Go," "More Love," "I Second That Emotion," "Tears Of A Clown," "Being With You," "One Heartbeat," and "Just To See Her." Robinson played a pivotal role at the Motown record label, second only to the company's founder, Berry Gordy.
  • Despite assertions to the contrary, the "Bill" mentioned in "Don't Mess With Bill" is not William "Smokey" Robinson. Explained Robinson: "The reason I used that name is it sang well."
  • In addition to penning many of the hits for his own group, Robinson wrote songs for other Motown artists as well. In addition to songs by the Marvelettes, he also wrote "My Guy" by Mary Wells, "The Way You Do the Things You Do," and "My Girl," by the Temptations, and "Ain't That Peculiar" and "I'll Be Doggone" by Marvin Gaye. Bob Dylan is said to have called Robinson "America's greatest living poet." Robinson has written or co-written over 4,000 songs.

Comments: 8

  • Brad from CanadaLittle Lisa's Hang on Bill was written by Berry, Gwen and Robert Gordy
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 14th 1966, the Marvelettes performed "Don't Mess With Bill" on the NBC-TV program 'Hullabaloo!'...
    Two months earlier on December 26th, 1965 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on February 20th it peaked at #7 (for 1 week) and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #3 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Sadly, two members of the quintet are no longer with us; lead singer Gladys Catherine Horton (1945 - 2011) and Georgeanna Marie Tillman Gordon (1943 - 1980)...
    May they both R.I.P.
  • Rotunda from Tulsa, Ok"Don't Mess With Bill" from 1965 brings back a lot of memories of starting college, life changes, & new relationships. The song was climbing the charts, getting great airplay, & was a resurgence of The Marvelettes' career. This was followed by the fabulous hit "Hunter Gets Captured by The Game" which I loved just as well. So smooth & with a big beat. I was saddened when Gladys Horton passed a few years back; she was a great force for The Marvelettes' career. Got to see them in concert in L.A. years ago & it was truly worth it. They could really handle a song in live performance. I believe the CD "The Marvelettes: The Ultimate Collection" displays their talents well in big hits and album cuts to show that they were more than what Motown put out there on the marke.
  • John from Nashville, TnThis song became the Marvelettes' third (and last) top-10 pop hit (the other two being the #1 "Please Mr. Postman" in 1961, and the #7 hit "Playboy" in 1962).
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlEVEN THOUGH William "Smokey" Robinson wrote this smash hit song, he also possibly wrote another song that contained the name "Bill" in the title: "Hang On Bill" by an obscure artist named Little Lisa, AKA Lisa Miller, co-songwriter of the Sergio Mendes tune "Never Gonna Let You Go".
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlI was just thinking, wouldnt it have been FABULOUS if a Motown group like Martha and the Vandellas were given a song like this? the girls wouldnt have thought TWICE about "messing with Bill"!
  • Andre from The Bronx, NyThat's true that the hit song "Don't Mess With Bill" (1966) is sure not about "William" Robinson. In the song The Marvelettes even refer to "Bill" as "...leave my 'Billy' alone"! According to all information and articles, Smokey was never called Bill or Billy. -- Dre
  • Carol from Monterey, MexicoMy dear friends, Bill and Sharon Watson are celebrating their 40th anniversary October 2007. I always, ALWAYS, think of them when I hear this song.

    Love you guys ... Happy anniversary!

    Carol
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