The Spinners to turn up at Hollywood CasinoWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Aretha Franklin pointed The Spinners in the right direction.
“We recorded ‘It’s a Shame’ at Motown [Records]; Stevie Wonder co-wrote it and produced it,” recalled Henry Fambrough. “Would you believe that song laid around almost two years before they released it? It took Stevie to go put pressure on Motown to get them to release it. And they released it and it became an instant hit.”
That was 1970, when the group’s contract with the Detroit label ran out.
“We were on tour with Aretha and we were good friends, and we still are good friends, and she told us, ‘I know you guys are between record companies, but I’m on Atlantic [Records] and they are a very good company to me, so I think you should look into it; it’s my recommendation.’ And we did, and we signed with them,” Fambrough said.
Then came producer Thom Bell.
“He remembered us from 1961 when ‘That’s What Girls Are Made For’ came out,” Fambrough said during a call from his home in Troy, Mich. “He said he remembered our sound and that’s why he wanted to work with us.”
Bell visited the Motor City and recorded Fambrough, Bobbie Smith, Pervis Jackson, Billy Henderson and Philippé Wynne.
“[Bell] said, ‘I’m going back to Philly, and I’m going to have my writers write for your sound,’ ” Fambrough said. “He said, ‘I think within a year or so, you guys are going to be the No. 1 group in the country.’
“After being at Motown for all that time, we just looked at each other and said, ‘Yeah, sure, Thom,’” Fambrough said and laughed.
But Bell and the writers struck gold. “When Thom came back, the first songs he played for us were ‘Could It Be I’m Falling in Love,’ ‘I’ll Be Around,’ ‘How Could I Let You Get Away’ and ‘Just You and Me Baby.’ And out of those four songs, three of them were hits off of our first album that was released,” Fambrough said.
Known for soulful harmonies, snappy matching suits and smooth moves, The Spinners had a string of hits, including “The Rubberband Man,” “One of Kind (Love Affair),” “They Just Can’t Stop It (Games People Play)” and “Working My Way Back to You.” The R&B group and Dionne Warwick reached No. 1 with “Then Came You.”
Fambrough is the only surviving original member.
“We lost Pervis and Billy in ’08 and ’07,” the singer said. “Bobbie left the road back in September, and we just kept working with the four guys. In fact, we’re still working with the four guys.”
Smith died in March at age 76. Jackson died of cancer in 2008, and Henderson died due to complications of diabetes in 2007.
“You keep going, you know, you keep going,” Fambrough said. “We try to find someone that has the same values and the same goals that we have.”
The Spinners — Fambrough, Charlton Washington, Jessie Peck and Marvin Taylor — and The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards will perform at 8 p.m. May 24 at the Hollywood Casino Toledo. Tickets are $45.
“The songs that we did then, they’re so good now because they’re about love and happiness,” Fambrough said. “We have people coming to see our concert today and they’re introducing our music to their grandkids because the music is still good and you can listen to it without cringing.”
Tags: Aretha Franklin, Billy Henderson, Bobbie Smith, Charlton Washington, Dennis Edwards, Henry Fambrough, Hollywood Casino Toledo, Jessie Peck, Marvin Taylor, Motown, Pervis Jackson, Philippé Wynne, Stevie Wonder, The Spinners, Thom Bell