The Spinners

  • R&B vocal quintet formed in 1954 from Ferndale Michigan. Henry Fambrough is the only living original Spinner, and he continues to perform with the group today as a baritone. The other Spinners during their most successful years were Pervis Jackson (bass vocals, with the group from 1954 until his death in 2008), Billy Henderson (tenor and baritone vocals, with the group from 1954 until his death in 2007) and Bobby Smith (co-lead tenor vocals, with the group from 1954 until his death in 2013). There were three lead tenors during the 70s – G.C. Cameron (1967 – 1972), Philippé Wynne (1972 – 1977) and John Edwards (1977 – 2000).
  • Fambrough, Henderson and Jackson were high school friends. As sophomores they formed a vocal group in 1954 called the Domingoes, along with classmates C.P. Spencer and James Edwards. Edwards remained for only a few weeks, and he was replaced by Bobby Smith. Spencer left after two years and he was replaced by George Dixon. They performed around the Detroit area. In 1961, they renamed themselves the Spinners. That year, they were discovered by a Detroit-based producer and they signed to his record label.
  • In 1961, they released their debut single, That’s What Girls Are Made For. The song reached #27 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the R&B chart, giving the group hope for future success. However, five more singles released over the next year were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, Dixon was replaced by Chico Edwards, the brother of James Edwards.
  • In 1963, the Spinners’ record label was bought out by Motown Records. Motown never supported the group. While six singles and two albums were released over the next six years, only I’ll Always Love You and Truly Yours were moderately successful. Motown assigned various tasks to the group, including chaperoning other artists and even working in the shipping department. In 1967, Edwards left the group and was replaced by G.C. Cameron.
  • In 1970, their contract with Motown was expiring. They recorded they final album for the company, and the Stevie Wonder-penned song It’s A Shame reached #14 in 1971. Aretha Franklin was under contract with Atlantic Records, and she urged them to sign with her label. Cameron’s contract with Motown required him to stay, and he suggested to the group that his cousin Philippé Wynne replace him. Under guidance from Atlantic Records, the Spinners went from relative obscurity to become one of the biggest soul groups of the 70s.
  • With Atlantic, they released nine studio albums during the 70s. Five peaked in the top five of the R&B album charts, with three topping the chart. They had 15 singles reach the top ten of the R&B Singles chart, with six crossing over to the Hot 100 chart and peaking in the top ten. R&B hits that reached #1 were I’ll Be Around, Could It Be I’m Falling In Love, One of a Kind (Love Affair), Mighty Love (Part 1), Games People Play and The Rubberband Man. Then Came You, a single with Dionne Warwick joining the group on vocals, topped the Hot 100 – their only #1 single on that chart, in 1974. The session musicians for many of their hits during this time were the Philadelphia-based group known as MFSB, famous for creating Philadelphia Soul music (aka TSOP – “The Sound of Philadelphia”).
  • Wynne left the group in 1977 – he wanted to change the group’s name to Philippé Wynne and the Spinners, and he left to pursue a solo career when the group did not agree to his demands. He was replaced with John Edwards. They released two medleys in 1979 and 1980 respectively – a disco version of the Four Seasons’ Working My Way Back To You peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 and at #1 on the UK chart, and Sam Cooke’s Cupid remake reached #4 on the Hot 100. Their last Hot 100 single was a remake of Willie Nelson’s Funny How Time Slips Away, which reached #67 on the chart in 1983.
  • No longer charting, the group toured extensively in the following decades, a popular act on nostalgic concert tours. In 2021, they released their first album of new music since 1999. Titled ‘Round the Block and Back Again, they still have a groovy soul sound and smooth harmonies, with Fambrough still hitting the low notes at 83 years old.
  • I loved this group in the seventies – their harmonies were as good as any soul/R&B artist of that time. I’ll Be Around, Could It Be I’m Falling In Love, Then Came You – all classics. Here are the Spinners, performing Could It Be I’m Falling In Love on The Midnight Special. So smooth!

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