The Spinners

With their sweet harmonies and strutting funk rhythms, The Spinners helped define the exultant sound of soul in the 1970s and scored a string timeless pop hits that continue to fill dancefloors today. Formed in 1954 by Henry Fambrough in the housing projects of Detroit, Michigan, they took their name as a nod to the spinning wheels of the city's auto industry and debuted with the single “That's What Girls Are Made For” in 1961 (featuring a young Marvin Gaye on drums). They were part of the legendary Motown Records roster and had hits with “I'll Always Love You” and “It's A Shame” (written and produced by Stevie Wonder), but were overshadowed by The Temptations, Four Tops, and the great harmony groups of the era. However, things picked up when they left Motown for Atlantic Records in the 1970s and the influence of funk, disco, and R&B transformed their innocent, sugar pop melodies into swaggering, anthemic, modern soul. The classic line-up of Fambrough, Phillippe Wynne, Bobby Smith, Billy Henderson, and Pervis Jackson produced the Top 10 hits “I'll Be Around,” “Could It Be I'm Falling In Love,” and the chart-topping duet “Then Came You” with Dionne Warwick, as they rose to become one of the top soul acts around. Albums New And Improved (1974) and Pick Of The Litter (1975) both made the US Top 10 and singles “Games People Play,” “Cupid,” and “The Rubberband Man” brought more success. But their signature hit “Working My Way Back To You” remains their finest moment, reaching Number 2 in the US charts and becoming a much-loved, pop classic. Still touring with remaining original member Fambrough, the group were inducted into the Vocal Hall of Fame in 1999 and had their track “Are You Ready For Love” recorded by Elton John in 2003. Outside of the US, the group was often called The Detroit Spinners to avoid confusion with the UK folk band also called The Spinners. Longtime – and founding - member Billy Henderson (1954-2004) died in 2007 and was followed a year later by Pervis Jackson (1954-2008). Bobby Smith (1954-2013) passed away in 2013. The group’s founder – and longest tenured member - Henry Fambrough died on February 7, 2024, at the age of 85. He had led the iconic group for 70 years.

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