James Edwards lasted only a few weeks; he was replaced by Bobbie Smith, who sang lead on most of the Spinners early records. 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 would also rename themselves The Spinners at this time. 1961-1971: A decade in the wilderness The Spinners first hit the charts in August of 1961 on Harvey Fuqua's Tri-Phi Records, with "That's What Girls Are Made For," peaking at number 27. Fuqua sang lead vocal on this track, the Spinners' and Tri-Phi's first single. The group's followup, "Love (I'm So Glad) I Found You" (with lead voacls by Smith), would reach number 91 that November, but none of their other Tri-Phi singles charted. James Edwards' brother Edgar ("Chico") 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. The Spinners were then assigned to the Motown label. In 1964, they 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 relased one single a year from 1966-1969 inclusive, but none charted on the Billboard Hot 100. 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 Dixon 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 Philippe Wynne then joined The Spinners as Cameron's replacement and the group's new lead singer. The Hit Years with Philippe Wynne When The Spinners signed to Atlantic in 1972, they were a commercially unremarkable singing group who had never had a top ten hit. But under under the helm of producer and songwriter Thom Bell, The Spinners would chart five top 100 singles (and two top tens) off their album The Spinners, released in 1972, and go on to be one of the biggest soul groups of the 1970s. "I'll Be Around" was their first top ten hit, but it was actually the B-side of the first 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. Follow-up singles "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" (#4, March 1973), "One of a Kind (Love Affair)" (#11, June 1973), and "Ghetto Child" (#29, September 1973) would cement the group's sudden hit-making reputation -- as well as Bell's, who was beginning to be recognized for his contributions to Philly soul or "Philadelphia Sound", a precursor to disco. 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 all their Atlantic hits, it crawled to number #91 US. The group's 1974 followup album, Mighty Love, would contain 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 billed as "Dionne Warwicke").
Their joint effort "Then Came You" would reach #1 in October -- the first chart-topper for either artist. Bell later noted, "Dionne made a face when we finished [the song]. She didn't like it much, but I knew we had something. So we ripped a dollar in two, signed each half and exchanged them.
I told her, 'If it doesn't go number one, I'll send you my half.' When it took off, Dionne sent hers back. There was an apology on it." The band would hit the Top 10 twice in the next two years with "(They Just Can't Stop It) Games People Play" (which would lead to a nickname of "12:45" for bass singer Jackson, after his signature vocal line on the song), and "The Rubberband Man." The Post-Wynne Years Wynne left the group in 1977, to be replaced by Jonathan 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. The group did manage several big hits in 1980, charting with medleys of "Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl" (#2 in March) and "Cupid/I've Loved You for a Long Time" (#4 in July), but 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". After some years spent collaborating with Parliament/Funkadelic and working solo, former Spinners member Wynne would die of a heart attack while performing in Oakland in 1984. After their chart career ended, The Spinners continued touring for decades. Even though their last hits were over 20 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. Around the same time, long-time member Billy Henderson also departed and was replaced by Harold "Spike" Bonhart. In their recently released 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 to several standing ovations. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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