Classics: The Spinners – I’ll Be Around (Atlantic)
However you might consider things, one thing comes first to mind when havin’ a listen to ‘I’ll Be Around’. Whatever did the A&R dept. at Atlantic had in their ears when they first pressed it as a B-side? I suppose we’ll never know. But that was most definitely one of those mistakes from the record industry one would regularly see happening here and then. Not to mention the fact it was the first release of the group for the label after they’d left Motown…
Justice would be paid to it though with the re-release of ‘I’ll Be Around’ as an A-side. With the latter soon after becoming the group’s first #1 in the U.S. R& B chart. And by that, one of the Spinners‘ biggest classics.
Written by Thom Bell and Phil Hurtt, ‘I’ll Be Around’, which saw the light back in August 1972, already had an early Philadelphia Sound flavor. This being nothing of a coincidence at the end. With Norman Harris responsible for its signature guitar riff and Sigma Sound Studios house band MFSB in the backing.
‘I’ll Be Around’ generated more than a million sales. Meanwhile opening a string of successes for both Bell and The Spinners. Countless artists covered it since. From The Rippingtons featuring Jeffrey Osborne to Hall & Oates among others. Not to mention Rappin’ 4-Tay back in 1995, although he only kept the chorus.
– Detroit, MI High School friends Henry Farnborough, Billy Henderson, Pervis Jackson, C.P. Spencer and Bobby Smith first sung together as The Domingoes back in 1955. They would get their first professional gig on the same bill as The Four Ames who later became The Four Tops.
They changed their name 2 years later in order to stop the confusion with both The Dominoes and The Flamingos. In America, they became the Spinners. Meanwhile, they had to add the ‘Detroit’ prefix in the U.K. to avoid confusion with the British Folk group of the name.
The (Detroit) Spinners first signed on Harvey Fuqua and Gwen Gordy‘s Tri-Phi label in 1961. With the latter becoming a part of Motown 3 years after. By then, Chico Edwards had replaced C.P. Spencer. A first string of hits began with ‘Sweet Thing’ (1966), ‘I’ll Aways Love You’ and ‘Truly Yours’. G.C. Cameron then replaced Edwards, and the group scored their first gold single with the Stevie Wonder penned and produced ‘It’s A Shame’. At this point (we were in 1971) Phillippé Wynne came to replace Cameron, and Motown ironically dropped the group…
The Spinners signed with Atlantic the year after upon Aretha Franklin‘s recommendation. Teamin’ up with producer Thom Bell, they became one of the biggest Soul groups in the 70’s. Delivering classics such as ‘I’ll Be Around’ and ‘The Rubberman Band’. Not to mention ‘Could It Be I’m Falling In Love’ which David Grant & Jaki Graham covered in the mid-80’s.
John Edwards replaced Wynne who left the band back in January 1977. Admittedly due to poor health, although the latter started a solo career the same year. With Edwards then as their lead singer, they scored extra hits with ‘Working My Way Back To You’ and ‘Cupid – I’ve Loved You For A Long Time’. This with Michael Zager in charge of the production..
In 1984, the Spinners released ‘Cross Fire’ their last album for Atlantic. Eventually getting their very last success (although moderate in comparison with its predecessors) with ‘Right Or Wrong’ along with producer Leon F Sylvers III.
They progressively disappeared from the radar, despite two extra album releases, respectively in 1985 and 1989.
Billy Henderson got dismissed from the band after suing the group’s corporation and business manager to obtain financial records back in 2004. He sadly died of complications caused by diabetes on Feb. 02, 2007 in Daytona Beach, FL, at the age of 67…
– A native of Detroit, MI, Phillippé Wynne grew up in a Gospel environment in Cincinatti, OH. Eventually becoming a member of Bootsy Collins‘ group The Pacesetters back in 1968. Then joinin’ James Brown‘s The JB’s the year after. And The Spinners as their lead singer in 1971.
There he most likely enjoyed his most successful period. And, in the meantime, the one of the group. This resulting in gems such as ‘Could It Be I’m Falling In Love’, ‘Games People Play’ and ‘The Rubberband Man’.
He left the band in January 1977, following rumors of a poor health, even though he soon after opened his account as a solo artist on Cotillion. This with the release of the aptly titled ‘Starting All Over Again’ album. He never managed to regain success though. Apart from his contribution to Funkadelic‘s 1979 classic ‘(Not Just) Knee Deep’.
Wynne sadly died of a heart attack, aged 43, on Jul. 14, 1984. This while performing onstage in an Oakland, CA nightclub.