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The Spinners
Origin Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genres R&B/pop/soul
Years active 1954—present
Labels Tri-Phi, Motown, Atlantic
Associated acts Harvey Fuqua, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick
Henry Fambrough*
Bobbie Smith*
Charlton Washington
Marvin Taylor
Jessie Robert Peck
Former members
Billy Henderson* (deceased)
Pervis Jackson* (deceased)
C.P. Spencer* (deceased)
James Edwards*
George Dixon
Edgar "Chico" Edwards
G. C. Cameron
Philippé Wynne (deceased)
Jonathan Edwards
Harold "Spike" Bonhart
Joe Stubbs (deceased)
*Original Members

The Spinners are a soul music vocal group, active under that name since 1961, and most popular with a long run of pop and R&B hits during the 1970s. The group, originating from Detroit, still tours regularly as of 2009.

The band is also listed occasionally as The Motown Spinners, or (after they left the Motown label) as The Detroit Spinners. These were used in the UK to avoid confusion with a British group also called The Spinners.



In 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. 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]


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 explicit 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 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 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" (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 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 (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.

The hit years with Philippé 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. "I'll Be Around" was also The Spinners' 1st million- selling hit single.[1] .

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.

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.

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

The group lost another member from their starting days when Pervis Jackson, who was still touring as a member of the group, died of cancer on August 18, 2008.[3] 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 the Summer of 2009, Harold "Spike Deleon" Bonhart left the Spinners, and was replaced by vocalist Marvin Taylor.

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

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.


Studio albums

  • 2000: The Spinners - Their Early Years - (Tri-Phi)
  • 1966: The Original Spinners (Motown)
  • 1970: 2nd Time Around (V.I.P.) - US Pop #199, US R&B #46
  • 1973: 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
  • 1977: 8 (Atlantic) - US Pop #57, US R&B #34
  • 1979: From Here to Eternally (Atlantic) - US Pop #165, US R&B #61
  • 1979: Dancin' and Lovin' (Atlantic)
  • 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 Spinners (Rhino)
  • 2002: The Essential Spinners (WSM)
  • 2003: The Chrome Collection (Rhino)
  • 2006: The Definitive Soul Collection (Rhino)


Year Song U.S. U.S. R&B CAN UK[4 ]
1961 "That's What Girls Are Made For" 27 5 - -
1961 "Love (I'm So Glad) I Found You" 91 - - -
1961 "What Did She Use?" - - - -
1962 "I've Been Hurt" - - - -
1962 "She Don't Love Me" (as Bobby Smith & The Spinners) - - - -
1964 "Sweet Thing" - - - -
1965 "I'll Always Love You" 35 8 7 -
1966 "Truly Yours" 111 16 97 -
1967 "For All We Know" - - - -
1968 "I Just Can't Help but Feel the Pain" - - - -
1969 "In My Diary" - - - -
1970 "Message from a Black Man" - - - -
1970 "It's a Shame" 14 4 36 20
1971 "We'll Have It Made" 89 20 - -
1972 "How Could I Let You Get Away" (A-Side) 77 14 - -
1972 "I'll Be Around" (B-Side) 3 1 6 -
1972 "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" 4 1 12 11
1973 "One of a Kind (Love Affair)" 11 1 16 -
1973 "Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music" 91 - - -
1973 "Ghetto Child" 29 4 60 7
1974 "Mighty Love (Part I)" 20 1 19 -
1974 "I'm Coming Home" 18 3 27 -
1974 "Then Came You" (with Dionne Warwick) 1 2 7 29
1974 "Love Don't Love Nobody (Part I)" 15 4 34 -
1975 "Living a Little, Laughing a Little" 37 7 43 -
1975 "Sadie" 54 7 71 -
1975 "They Just Can't Stop It the (Games People Play)" 5 1 21 -
1975 "Love or Leave" 36 8 29 -
1976 "Wake Up Susan" 56 11 - 29
1976 "The Rubberband Man" 2 1 7 16
1977 "You're Throwing a Good Love Away" 43 5 - -
1977 "I Don't Want to Lose You" - 39 - -
1977 "Heaven on Earth (So Fine)" 89 23 - -
1978 "Easy Come, Easy Go" - 46 - -
1978 "If You Wanna Do a Dance" 49 17 72 -
1979 "Are You Ready for Love" - 25 - -
1979 "Body Language" 103 25 - 40
1980 "Working My Way Back to You"/"Forgive Me Girl" (medley) 2 6 5 1
1980 "Cupid"/"I've Loved You for a Long Time" (medley) 4 5 20 4
1980 "Now That You're Mine Again" - 25 - -
1980 "I Just Want to Fall in Love" - 75 - -
1981 "Yesterday Once More"/"Nothing Remains the Same" (medley) 52 32 - -
1981 "Long Live Soul Music" - 64 - -
1981 "You Go Your Way (I'll Go Mine)" 110 39 - -
1981 "Love Connection (Raise the Window Down)" 107 68 - -
1982 "Never Thought I'd Fall in Love" 95 - - -
1982 "Magic in the Moonlight" - 30 - -
1982 "Funny How Time Slips Away" 67 43 - -
1984 "Right or Wrong" 104 22 - -
1985 "Put Us Together Again" [5] - - - -
1990 "I Don't Need Another Love" (with Dionne Warwick) - 84 - -


  1. ^ Spinners Interview R&B Showcase Magazine (Tim Marshall, 2009).
  2. ^ Heroes & Villains - Exclusive Interview with Thom Bell on Soul Jones Presents
  3. ^ USA
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 152. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.  
  5. ^ Detroit Spinners, The* - Put Us Together Again

External links


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