The Spinners (U.S. band)

The Spinners (U.S. band)

Infobox musical artist 2
Name = The Spinners
Background = group_or_band

Img_capt = A Motown-era Spinners compilation album.
Origin = Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genre = R&B/pop/soul
Years_active = 1954 - present
Label = Tri-Phi, Motown, Atlantic
Associated_acts = Harvey Fuqua
URL= []
Current_members = Henry Fambrough*
Frank Washington
Bobbie Smith*
Harold "Spike" Bonhart
Past_members = Jonathan Edwards
George Dixon
C.P. Spencer*
James Edwards*
Edgar "Chico" Edwards
Joe Stubbs
G. C. Cameron
Philippé Wynne
Billy Henderson*
Pervis Jackson*
*Original Members

The Spinners are a Detroit, Michigan-based soul vocal group (active since 1954), and most popular during the 1970s. The group still tours as of 2008. The band is also listed occasionally as The Motown Spinners, or (after they left the Motown label) The Detroit Spinners. These were their monikers in the UK to avoid confusion with a British group called The Spinners.


In 1954 a group of friends in Ferndale High School in Ferndale, Michigan, just outside Detroit, came together to make music. Billy Henderson, Henry Fambrough, Pervis Jackson, C. P. Spencer, and James Edwards called themselves The Domingoes. 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.

1961-1971: A decade in the wilderness

The 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 (legend has it that Fuqua sang the lead, but that legend has been debunked by both Fuqua and 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 expicit by the credits on Tri-Phi 1010 and 1024. The artist credit on both these 1962 singles reads "Harvey (Formerly of the The Moonglows and The Spinners)". However most sources, while respecting Fuqua's contibutions 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 Berry Gordy of Motown Records, Fuqua's brother-in-law. 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, although their 1966 song "Truly Yours" was a big hit on the Billboard R&B chart.

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", and charted again the following year with another song Wonder wrote and produced, "We'll Have It Made" from their new album "Second Time Around". However, these were their last two singles for V.I.P.

Shortly after the release of "Second 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 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.

The hit years with Philippe Wynne

When 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, "The 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 #89.

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 followup 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", which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming each act's first number-one hit.

The Spinners would hit the Top 10 twice in the next two years with the Smith-led "They Just Can't Stop It (Games People Play)" (Billboard #5) and the Wynne-led "The Rubberband Man" (Billboard #2). "Games People Play" featured guest vocalist Barbara Ingram, and would lead to a nickname of "12:45" for bass singer Jackson, after his signature vocal line on the song),

The post-Wynne years

Wynne 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.Fact|date=September 2008

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 March, #1 UK) and "Cupid"/"I've Loved You for a Long Time" (#4 in July, #4 UK). Curiously, 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").

However, a third trip to the well proved one time too many, when "Yesterday Once More"/"Nothing Remains the Same" failed to break Top 40. 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 1980s, but neither of them were notably 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

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.

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 illness) but he left them in 2003 to join The Temptations. Frank Washington, formerly of The Futures and The Delfonics, is now the lead vocalist.

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. (Early member C.P. Spencer had already died from a heart attack on October 20 2004.)

In their box 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".

The group lost another member when Pervis Jackson died of cancer on August 18 2008. [ [ USA] ] Now currently a quartet, the group is actively touring with two of its surviving original members (Fambrough and Smith).


tudio albums

*1966: "The Original Spinners" (Motown)
*1970: "2nd Time Around" (V.I.P.) - US Pop #199, US R&B #46
*1972: "Spinners" (Atlantic) - US Pop #14, US R&B #1
*1974: "Mighty Love" (Atlantic) - US Pop #16, US R&B #1
*1974: "New and Improved" (Atlantic) - US Pop #9, US R&B #1
*1975: "Pick of the Litter" (Atlantic) - US Pop #8, US R&B #2
*1976: "Happiness Is Being With the Spinners" (Atlantic) - US Pop #25, US R&B #5
*1977: "Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow" (Atlantic) - US Pop #26, US R&B #11
*1978: "8" (Atlantic) - US Pop #57, US R&B #34
*1979: "From Here to Eternally" (Atlantic) - US Pop #165, US R&B #61
*1980: "Love Trippin"' (Atlantic) - US Pop #53, US R&B #16
*1981: "Labor of Love" (Atlantic) - US Pop #128, US R&B #40
*1981: "Can't Shake This Feelin"' (Atlantic) - US Pop #196, US R&B #34
*1982: "Grand Slam" (Atlantic) - US Pop #167, US R&B #43
*1984: "Cross Fire" (Atlantic)
*1985: "Lovin' Feelings" (Mirage)
*1989: "Down to Business" (Volt)

Compilation albums

*1973: "The Best of the Spinners" (Motown) - US Pop# 124, US R&B #37
*1975: "Live!" (Atlantic) - US Pop #20, US R&B #4
*1978: "The Best of the Spinners" (Atlantic) - US Pop #115, US R&B #56
*1991: "A One of a Kind Love Affair: The Anthology" (Atlantic)
*1993: "The Very Best of the Spinners" (Rhino)
*2002: "The Essential Spinners" (WSM)
*2003: "The Chrome Collection" (Rhino)
*2006: "The Definitive Soul Collection" (Rhino)



External links

* [ The Spinners] official website
* [ 'The Spinners' Vocal Group Hall of Fame Page]
* [ Yahoo! News: Spinners singer Billy Henderson dies] - February 3, 2007
* [ Detroit Free Press: Spinners singer Pervis Jackson dies] - August 19, 2008

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