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Passings: Bobby Smith of the Spinners (1936 - 2013)

Spinners in the 1950's (Smith, George Dixon,
Henderson, Fambrough, Jackson)
Bobby Smith (also known as Bobbie), the man who took the lead on some of the Spinners' biggest hits, died on Saturday in Orlado, Florida from pneumonia and influenza. He was 76.

Smith, who was one of the two original members still with the touring version of the group (along with Harvey Fambrough), also had been diagnosed with lung cancer last November.

Bobby was born in Detroit, MI and went to nearby Ferndale High School where he and friends Billy Henderson, Pervis Jackson, C.P. Spence and Fambrough formed a group called the Damingoes in 1954. They performed together, with just a couple of personnel changes, until 1961 when they changed their name to the Spinners and signed with Harvey Fuqua's Tri-Phi Records.

Their first single, That's What Girls Are Made For, with Smith on lead, was a national hit peaking at 5 on the R&B and 27 on the Hot 100. A followup just barely made the charts and it would be four years, and a switch to Motown after they bought Tri-Phi, before they would have another hit. 1965's I'll Always Love You (#8 R&B / #35 Pop) and Truly Yours (#16 R&B / #111 Pop) were the only songs they could chart while with the Detroit label during the 60's and the members of the group were regularly assigned to management and other non-music jobs.

Finally, in 1970, they found themselves on the Motown subsidiary V.I.P. where they broke big with the Stevie Wonder/Syreeta Wright song It's a Shame (#4 R&B / #14 Pop). A legends says that Aretha Franklin was fond of the group and arranged for them to move to Atlantic Records when their Motown contract ran out and it was there that Philippe Wynne joined the group to replace G.C. Cameron who was still obligated to Motown.

The group flourished at Atlantic with their first single, the Bobby Smith sung I'll Be Around, going to #1 on the R&B Singles and #3 on the Hot 100. By the end of the 70's, they would have 15 top ten R&B hits, including six number ones, along with six that went to the Pop top ten. Even though many saw Wynne as the leader of the group, Smith sang lead on some of their biggest including Around, Could It Be I'm Falling in Love, They Just Can't Stop It (Games People Play) and Then Came You (with Dionne Warwick).

The Spinners last big hit was 1980's Cupid/I've Loved You For a Long Time (#4 Pop / #5 R&B) and they hit the Hot 100 for the last time in 1982 with Funny How Time Slips Away (#67 Pop / #43 R&B).

From that time until now, the members of the Spinners have changed with the two constants being Fambrough and the now late-Smith.


Anonymous said…
It's about TIME that BOBBY SMITH got his due. This man led on most of The SPINNERS BIGGEST HITS: "TRULY YOURS", "I'LL BE AROUND", "COULD IT BE I'M FALLING IN LOVE", "I'LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU","GAMES PEOPLE PLAY","THEN CAME YOU". He even sang lead on the group's very FIRST hit way back in 1961: "THAT'S WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE FOR". But the public latched on to PHILLIPPE WYNNE like he was the Second Coming.He got all of the credit , fan accolades , and attention,WHILE BOBBY got little or NONE. Here are the FACTS: While Wynne was hopping and skipping all across the stage, it was BOBBY SMITH that was selling all of the records. WYNNE only sang on TWO Top 10 hits with the Spinners: "ONE OF A KIND(LOVE AFFAIR) and "RUBBERBAND MAN" . All of the group's other million-selling hits were led by BOBBY SMITH . Now, Smith is DEAD...and people are still talking about Phillippe. Some writers have even gone so far as to give WYNNE credit for songs that BOBBY actually sang lead on....and it's time that it STOPPED !!!

It's time that these lies about Phillippe Wynne got buried ...ONCE AND FOR ALL.... and It's HIGH TIME THAT BOBBY SMITH GOT HIS DUE !!!
Topkat said…
Phillippe Wynne was not even an original member. He didn't join the group until 1972, to replace his cousin, G.C. Cameron,who sang lead on the Spinners big hit It's A Shame". Bobby was with the group, and was it's main lead singer, from Day One.