Following a stint with Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers, Mel went on to work as a studio & touring drummer for a variety of Motown acts through the 1970s & 80s, including Diana Ross, Martha & the Vandellas and the Main Ingredient. He played on numerous Motown recordings during this period, usually uncredited.
In the early 80s, he returned to Portland and semi-retirement, working as an accountant. He returned to the stage in the 1990s, as a member of Leroy Vinnegar's trio. He also founded the Mel Brown Quintet and the Mel Brown B-3 Organ Trio, among other groups.