1954: The Spinners

 Mar, 30 - 2014   no comments   1970s Music

The Spinners are an American soul music vocal group, active for over 50 years, and with a long run of classic hits especially during the 1970s. The group, originating from Detroit, still tours regularly as of 2014 although Henry Fambrough is the only original member.
The group is also listed as the Detroit Spinners, and the 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.

The Spinners were the greatest soul group of the early ’70s, creating a body of work that defined the lush, seductive sound of Philly Soul. Ironically, the band’s roots lay in Detroit, where they formed as a doo wop group during the late ’50s. Throughout the ’60s, the Spinners tried to land a hit by adapting to the shifting fashions of R&B and pop. By the mid-’60s, they had signed with Motown Records, but the level never gave the group much consideration. “It’s a Shame” became a hit in 1970, but the label continued to ignore the group, and dropped the band two years later. Unsigned and featuring a new lead singer Phillipe Wynne, the Spinners seemed destined to never break into the big-leagues, but they managed to sign with Atlantic Records, where they began working with producer Thom Bell. With his assistence, the Spinners developed a distinctive sound, one that relied on Wynne’s breathtaking falsetto and the group’s intricate vocal harmonies.

Happiness Is Being With the Spinners

Bell provided the group with an appropriately detailed production, creating a detailed web of horns, strings, backing vocals, and lightly funky rhythms. Between 1972 and 1977, the Spinners and Thom Bell recorded a number of soul classics, including “I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Fallin in Love,” “Mighty Love,” “Ghetto Child,” “Then Came You,” “Games People Play” and “The Rubberband Man.” Wynne left in 1977 and the Spinners had hits for a few years after his departure, but the group will always be remembered for its classic mid-’70s work.

Originally, called the Domingoes, the Spinners formed when the quintet were high school students in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale in 1957. At the time, the group featured Bobbie Smith, Pervis Jackson, George W. Dixon, Billy Henderson and Henry Fambrough. Four years later, they came to the attention of producer Harvey Fuqua, who began recording the group — who were now called the Spinners — for his Tri-Phi Records. The band’s first single, “That’s What Girls Are Made For,” became a Top 10 R&B hit upon its 1961 release and featured Smith on vocals. Following its release, Dixon was replaced by Edgar “Chico” Edwards. Over the next few years, the group released a series of failed singles, and when Tri-Phi was bought out by Motown in the mid-’60s, the Spinners became part of the larger company’s roster. By that time, Edwards had been replaced by G.C. Cameron.

The Original Spinners

Though the Spinners had some R&B hits at Motown during the late ’60s, including “I’ll Always Love You” and “Truly Yours,” they didn’t have a genuine crossover success until 1970, Stevie Wonder gave the group “It’s a Shame.” Motown never concentrated on the Spinners, and they let the group go in 1972. Before the band signed with Atlantic Records, Phillipe Wynne replaced Cameron as the group’s lead vocalist. Wynne had previously sung with Catfish and Bootsy Collins.

At Atlantic Records, the Spinners worked with producer Thom Bell, who gave the group a lush, seductive sound, complete with sighing strings, a tight rhythm section, sultry horns, and a slight funk underpinning. Wynne quickly emerged as a first-rate soul singer, and the combination of the group’s harmonies, Wynne’s soaring leads and Bell’s meticulous production made the Spinners the most popular soul group of the ’70s. Once the group signed with Atlantic, they became a veritable hit machine, topping the R&B and pop charts with songs like “I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love,” “One of a Kind (Love Affair),” “Ghetto Child,” “Rubberband Man” and “You’re Throwing a Good Love Away.” Not only were their singles hits, but their albums constantly went gold and charted in the Top 20.

Spinners (album)

Phillip Wynne left the band to pursue a solo career in 1977; he was replaced by John Edwards. Though none of Wynne’s solo records were big hits, his tours with Parliament-Funkadelic were well-received, as were his solo concerts. In October 1984, he died of a heart attack during a concert in Oakland, California. The Spinners, meanwhile, had a number of minor hits in the late ’70s, highlighted by their disco covers of “Working My Way Back to You” and the medley “Cupid/I’ve Loved You for a Long Time.” During the early ’80s, they had several minor hits before fading away from the charts and entering the oldies circuit, reprising their earlier material for 1999’s new studio effort At Their Best.

— Stephen Thomas Erlewine

  • The Detroit Spinners
  • The Motown Spinners
  • R&B
  • smooth soul
  • 1954–present

Original members

  • Henry Fambrough (1954 to present)
  • William “Billy” Henderson (1954 to 2004)
  • Pervis Jackson (1954 to 2008)
  • James Edwards (1954)
  • Robert “Bobby” Smith (1954 to 2013)
  • Crathman “C.P.” Spencer (1954 to 1956)

Later members

  • Edgar “Chico” Edwards (1956 to 1958; 1962 to 1967)
  • George Dixon (1958 to 1963)
  • Joe Stubbs (1962)
  • George “G.C.” Cameron (1967 to 1972; & 2000 to 2003)
  • Philippé Wynne (1972 to 1977)
  • Jonathan Edwards (1977 to 2000)
  • Frank Washington (2003 to 2009)
  • Harold “Spike” Bonhart (2004 to 2009)

Current members

  • Henry Fambrough (1954 to present)
  • Charlton Washington (2009 to present)
  • Jessie Robert Peck (2009 to present)
  • Marvin Taylor (2009 to present)
  • Harold “Spike” Bonhart
  • 1967 The Original Spinners
  • 1970 2nd Time Around
  • 1973 Spinners
  • 1974 Mighty Love
  • 1974 New and Improved
  • 1975 Pick of the Litter
  • 1976 Happiness Is Being With the Spinners
  • 1977 Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
  • 1977 Spinners
  • 1979 From Here to Eternally
  • 1979 Dancin’ and Lovin’
  • 1980 Love Trippin’
  • 1981 Labor of Love
  • 1982 Can’t Shake This Feelin’
  • 1982 Grand Slam
  • 1984 Cross Fire
  • 1985 Lovin’ Feelings
  • 1989 Down to Business

The Spinners

  • I’ll Be Around 1973 Spinners
  • Working My Way Back to You
  • Could It Be I’m Falling in Love 1973 Spinners
  • Love Don’t Love Nobody 1974 Mighty Love
  • Then Came You
  • It’s a Shame
  • Games People Play 1975 Pick of the Litter
  • Rubberband Man
  • Disco Ride
  • The Rubberband Man 1976 Happiness Is Being With the Spinners
  • Medley: Working My Way Back to You / Forgive Me Girl
  • Mighty Love 1974 Mighty Love
  • I Don’t Want to Lose You 1975 Pick of the Litter
  • One of a Kind 1973 Spinners
  • Cupid
  • Sadie 1974 New and Improved
  • Just as Long as We Have Love 1975 Pick of the Litter
  • Ghetto Child 1973 Spinners
  • How Could I Let You Get Away 1973 Spinners
  • He’ll Never Love You Like I Do 1974 Mighty Love
  • I’ll Always Love You 1967 The Detroit Spinners
  • Brother to Brother
  • I’m Coming Home 1974 Mighty Love
  • You’re Throwing a Good Love Away 1977 Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
  • Living a Little, Laughing a Little 1974 New and Improved
  • They Just Can’t Stop It
  • We Belong Together 1973 Spinners
  • I Could Never 1973 Spinners
  • There’s No One Like You 1974 New and Improved
  • I’m Glad You Walked Into My Life 1974 Mighty Love
  • I Just Want to Fall in Love
  • Sweet Thing 1967 The Detroit Spinners

 Love Don’t Love Nobody (It Takes A Fool)

It’s A Shame (1970)

 Could It Be I’m Falling In Love (1973) (HDTV)

Games People Play,Then Came You,Mighty Love

Working My Way Back To You Girl

Rubberband Man

Sadie – Live 1976

Mighty Love – Live 1976

One Of A Kind Love Affair – Live 1976

 One of A Kind Love Affair (Very Best of The Spinners Album)

  • Tri-Phi
  • Motown
  • Atlantic
  • Tamla
  • Harvey Fuqua
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Dionne Warwick

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