Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Spinners, The #61 Artist of the Seventies*

This group was together long before most of the elite groups of the Seventies.  They formed back in 1954 in Ferndale, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.  Billy Henderson, Henry Fambrough, Pervis Jackson, C.P. Spencer, and James Edwards began as the Domingoes.  Bobby Smith replaced Edwards after a few weeks, and George Dixon soon replaced Spencer.

In 1961, the group renamed themselves the Spinners, and scored their first hit that year with "That's What Girls Are Made For", a #27 song.

Edwards' brother, Edgar "Chico" Edwards, replaced Dixon in 1963.  At this time, Motown Records bought out the Spinners' contract and welcomed them aboard the label.  However, chart success eluded the Spinners during the 60's.  The members of the group became road managers, chauffers and chaperones for other groups.  G.C. Cameron replaced Edwards in 1967.

In 1970, the Spinners finally struck paydirt at #14 with the Stevie Wonder song "It's A Shame".  It was plucked from the album 2nd Time Around, and got as high as #4 on the R&B chart. 

The Spinners made the jump to Atlantic Records in 1972, but due to contractual obligations, Cameron had to stay with Motown as a solo artist.  He suggested his cousin Philippe Wynne as a replacement, and Wynne became one of the group's lead singers.

The move to Atlantic  brought several blessings, one of them being the ability to work with songwriter and producer Thom Bell.  With all the pieces now in place, the Spinners, which had been around over ten years without a Top 10 song, took flight, becoming one of the top soul groups of their time.
he Spinners achieved their first Gold album in 1973 with their self-titled release.  The single "I'll Be Around" proved to be their breakthrough song, but it wasn't even the "A" side of the 45.  That distinction went to "How Could I Let You Go Away", which went nowhere.  Smart DJ's flipped the record over to find this gem waiting for them, and "I'll Be Around" landed at #3 overall, and #1 on the R&B chart.  It also sold over one million copies. 

The Spinners had a follow-up in the chute, and released "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love", which gave them another R&B smash that reached #4 on the Popular chart.

The group finally was on its way, and they released the single "One Of A Kind (Love Affair)", a third hit from the album.  The song was their third consecutive R&B #1 that stopped just shy of the Top 10 at #11 (Please click the "Play" icon in the top left-hand portion of the video...).

The 1974 album Mighty Love featured three songs that found favor in the top rungs of the R&B chart, but the mass appeal was missing.

When superstar Dionne Warwick joined them for a song on their next album New and Improved, it was just what the doctor ordered.  The #1 smash brought the Spinners back into the limelight--they were in a streak of five consecutive Gold albums.  And it was a across-the-board winner; "Then Came You" also scored in the upper echelon of both the Adult and R&B genres (#3 on each).

The group's next three releases ("Love Don't Love Nobody", "Living A Little, Laughing A Little", and "Sadie") continued their run of 13 Top 20 songs on the R&B chart, but were mid-charters at best overall.

In 1975, the Spinners achieved their fourth straight Gold album, and Pick of the Litter was the highest-ranking album of their career.  The single "(They Just Can't Stop It (Games People Play)" was a gem--#5 on the Popular chart, #1 R&B, and #2 Adult.

The group returned the following year with another great song (never accept a radio station that plays the short version!) in "Rubberband Man".  It bounced to #2 giving the Spinners one of their all-time best; it also gave them their sixth career R&B #1.  Jackson actually acquired the nickname "12:45" for his famous bass line in the song.

Wynne left the group in 1977, with John Edwards replacing him.  The Spinners posted some minor hits, but parted ways with Thom Bell in 1979.  They would return in a big way, though, in 1980, but that is outside the scope of this particular music special. 

The Spinners collected no less than 21 hits in the Seventies (with 5 Top 10's and one #1 song), and although officially the RIAA pegs their sales in the decade at three million, Motown rarely requested official sales audits from the RIAA, and the group's sales are certainly higher than that.  But since the RIAA is the authority, three million is what we have to go by in calculating their rank in the decade.

The group was a phenomenal R&B group, landing 16 Top 10 songs out of 20 hits in the 70's, and an astonishing six #1's.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.