The Spinners   Leave a comment


The Spinners

The Spinners is a soul music vocal group, active for over 50 years, and with a long run of pop and R&B hits especially during the 1970s. The group, originating from Detroit, still tours regularly as of 2011[update].

The band is also listed occasionally as Detroit Spinners, or Motown Spinners(for their 1960s recordings with the Detroit label). These group names were used in the UK to avoid confusion with a British folk group also called The Spinners.

HistoryIn 1954, a group of friends who grew up together in Royal Oak Township, Michigan, just outside Detroit, came together to make music. For a time, several of the band members resided in Detroit’s Herman Gardens public housing projects. Billy Henderson, Henry Fambrough, Pervis Jackson, C. P. Spencer, and James Edwards called themselves The Domingoes, however James Edwards lasted only a few weeks. He was replaced by Bobbie Smith, who sang lead on most of the Spinners’ early records (and many of their biggest Atlantic hits). C. P. Spencer left the group shortly afterwards, and would later go on to be a member of the Voice Masters and The Originals. He was replaced by George Dixon. The group renamed themselves The Spinners in 1961. This name was chosen after looking at popular car hubcaps and noting how they spun around on a car’s wheel.[1]

[edit] Early recording years: 1961–1971The Spinners first hit the charts in August 1961 on Harvey Fuqua’s Tri-Phi Records, with “That’s What Girls Are Made For,” peaking at number 27. Bobby Smith sang lead vocal on this track, coached by Fuqua. (Some sources report Fuqua sang lead vocal on this track, but both Smith and Fuqua have stated at various times that it was Smith.) The group’s followup, “Love (I’m So Glad) I Found You” also featured lead vocals by Smith, although again some sources credit Fuqua. This track would reach number 91 that November, but none of their other Tri-Phi singles charted.

The extent to which Fuqua became a member of the group during their stay at Tri-Phi is debated. Fuqua apparently sang on at least some of the records, and at minimum considered himself a Spinner, as made explicit by the credits on Tri-Phi 1010 and 1024—the artist credit on both these 1962 singles reads “Harvey (Formerly of The Moonglows and The Spinners)”. However most sources, while respecting Fuqua’s contributions to the group, do not list him as an official member.

James Edwards’ brother, Edgar “Chico” Edwards, would replace Dixon in the group in 1963, at which time Tri-Phi and the entire artist roster was bought out by Fuqua’s brother-in-law Berry Gordy of Motown Records. The Spinners were then assigned to the Motown label.

In 1964, the Spinners made their debut at the Apollo Theater and won instant acclaim, a rare feat at the time. But with the exception of “I’ll Always Love You,” which hit #35 in 1965, success mostly eluded them during the 1960s. After “I’ll Always Love You”, they released one single a year from 1966–1969 inclusive, but none charted on the Billboard Hot 100, and only their 1966 song “Truly Yours” hit the Billboard R&B chart, peaking at #16.

With commercial success virtually non-existent, during much of this decade the Spinners would be used by Motown as road managers, chaperones and chauffeurs for other groups, and even as shipping clerks. G. C. Cameron replaced Edgar “Chico” Edwards in 1967, and in 1969, the group switched to the Motown-owned V.I.P. imprint. (The label name is somewhat ironic, given that V.I.P. was generally considered a substandard imprint behind Motown, Gordy, Tamla, and Soul).

In 1970, after a five-year chart absence, they hit #14 with writer/producer Stevie Wonder’s composition, “It’s a Shame” (co-written by Syreeta Wright), and charted again the following year with another song Wonder wrote and produced, “We’ll Have It Made” from their new album 2nd Time Around. However, these were their last two singles for V.I.P.

Shortly after the release of 2nd Time Around, legend has it that Atlantic Records recording artist Aretha Franklin suggested the group finish out their Motown contract and sign with Atlantic. The group made the switch—except for Cameron who elected to leave the group and remain with Motown as a solo artist. Singer Philippé Wynne (Cameron’s cousin), then joined The Spinners as Cameron’s replacement and the group’s new lead singer. However, original lead singer Bobby Smith also retained his lead position.

[edit] The hit years with Philippé WynneWhen The Spinners signed to Atlantic in 1972, they were a respected but commercially unremarkable singing group who had never had a top-ten pop hit—despite having been a recording act for over a decade. However, under the helm of producer and songwriter Thom Bell, The Spinners would chart five top 100 singles (and two top tens) from their first post-Motown album, Spinners (1972), and would go on to become one of the biggest soul groups of the 1970s.

The Bobby Smith-led “I’ll Be Around”, their first top ten hit, was actually the B-side of their first Atlantic single, “How Could I Let You Get Away”. Radio airplay for the B-side led Atlantic to flip the single over, with “I’ll Be Around” hitting #3 and “How Could I Let You Get Away” reaching #77. “I’ll Be Around” was also The Spinners’ 1st million- selling hit single.[3] .

The 1973 follow-up singles “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” (led by Smith), “One of a Kind (Love Affair)” (led by Wynne), and “Ghetto Child” (led by Wynne) would cement the group’s reputation, as well as further that of Bell, a noted Philly soul producer.

Following their Atlantic successes, Motown also issued a “Best of the Spinners” LP which featured selections from their Motown/V.I.P. recordings. They also remixed and reissued the 1970 B-side “Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music” as a 1973 A-side. In the midst of their Atlantic hits, it crawled to number #91 US.

The group’s 1974 follow-up album, Mighty Love, featured three Top 20 hits, “I’m Coming Home,” “Love Don’t Love Nobody,” and the title track. Their biggest hit of the year, however, would be a collaboration with Dionne Warwick, “Then Came You”,(led by Smith and Warwick), which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming each act’s first chart-topping ‘Pop’ hit. The song also reached the Top 3 of Billboard’s R&B and Easy Listening charts.

The Spinners would hit the Top 10 twice in the next two years with the Smith-led “They Just Can’t Stop It the (Games People Play)” (Billboard #5) and the Wynne-led “The Rubberband Man” (Billboard #2). “Games People Play” featured guest vocalist Barbara Ingram (though producer Bell disputed this in a UK based interview, claiming Barbara’s line was actually group member Henry Fambrough – his voice sped up[2]) and would lead to a nickname of “12:45” for bass singer Jackson, after his signature vocal line on the song.

[edit] The post-Wynne yearsWynne left the group in January 1977 to be replaced by John Edwards. Though this version of the group had minor hits from 1977–79, they failed to hit the pop Top 40 for two years and parted ways with producer Bell.

In 1979 Motown released a compilation album on both sides of the Atlantic; “From the Vaults”, US Natural Resources label NR 4014 & in the UK on Tamla Motown STMR 9001, on this Album was The Spinners; “What More Could a Boy Ask For” (Fuqua & Bristol) circa 1965, this Northern Soul track, only commercially available in this form, reignited existing Motown and Spinners fans.[citation needed]

The group did manage several big hits in 1980, charting with Michael Zager medleys of “Working My Way Back to You”/”Forgive Me, Girl” (#2 in April, #1 UK) and “Cupid”/”I’ve Loved You for a Long Time” (#4 in July, #4 UK). The latter title, which contains 8 words, was #8 on the Hot 100 on 8/8/80 for the 8-lettered-name group (according to the record label, the credited name is “Spinners”).

The group’s last Hot 100 pop hit was a remake of Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away,” peaking at #67 in 1983. The following year, the group had their last R&B hit with “Right or Wrong,” off the Cross Fire album. They would release a pair of additional albums during the remainder of the 1980s, but neither of them was successful.

After some years spent collaborating with Parliament/Funkadelic and working solo, former Spinners member Philippé Wynne would die of a heart attack while performing in Oakland on July 14, 1984.

The Spinners now
The Spinners in concert at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California on March 18, 2006.After their chart career ended, The Spinners continued touring for decades. Even though their last hits were almost 25 years ago, the bright lights of their 1972–1976 run of the charts continues to provide for the current members. They are big draws on the oldies and nostalgia concert circuits and continue to play the music that made them famous.

In their boxed set, The Chrome Collection, The Spinners were lauded by David Bowie and Elvis Costello. The Spinners were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. On July 27, 2006, The Spinners performed on The Late Show With David Letterman.

A voice from their past, G.C. Cameron, would rejoin the group as lead vocalist from 2000 to 2002 (replacing Jonathan Edwards, who left due to a stroke that left him wheelchair-bound), but he left them in 2003 to join The Temptations. Frank Washington, formerly of The Futures and The Delfonics, joined for a few years, before being replaced by Charlton Washington (no relation).

In 2004, original member Billy Henderson was dismissed from the group after suing the group’s corporation and business manager to obtain financial records. He was replaced by Harold “Spike” Bonhart. Henderson died due to complications from diabetes on February 2, 2007 at the age of 67. Another early member, C.P. Spencer had already died from a heart attack on October 20, 2004[3][4]; and another, George Dixon, passed away in 2005.[citation needed]

Original member Pervis Jackson, who was still touring as a member of the group, died of cancer on August 18, 2008.[5] The group continued for a short time as a quartet before Jessie Robert Peck (born in Queens, New York, December 17, 1968) was recruited as the group’s new bass vocalist in February 2009. In 2009, Bonhart left the Spinners and was replaced by vocalist Marvin Taylor. The group lost another member from their early days, when Edgar “Chico” Edwards died on December 3, 2011.[6]

The group is actively touring with two of its surviving original members (Fambrough and Smith), Charlton Washington, Jessie Peck, and Marvin Taylor.

In September 2011, 57 years after forming in Detroit, and 50 years after “That’s What Girls Are Made For”, the group was announced as one of 15 final nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, their first nomination.

[edit] Are You Ready For Love?The Spinners were put into the limelight again in 2003 when an Elton John track was re-issued featuring them on backing vocals. In 1977, The Spinners had recorded two versions of Are You Ready For Love at the Philadelphia studios. One had all of the Spinners, the other with only lead singer Phillipe Wynne on backing vocals. Elton John wasn’t happy with the mixes and sat on the tapes for a year before asking for them to be re-mixed to give them an easier on the ear sound. Finally in 1979, the Phillipe Wynne version was released as a single but it only made it to number 42 in the UK.

The track was then remixed by Ashley Beedle from Xpress-2 in 2003 after becoming a fixture in the Balearic nightclubs and being used by Sky Sports for an advertisement. It then went to number 1 in the singles chart after being released on DJ Fatboy Slim’s Southern Fried record label.

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Posted February 22, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Uncategorized

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