It has been more than 40 years since the legendary R&B group The Spinners’ greatest hit ‘I’ll Be Around’ topped the Billboard charts at No. 1 in 1972, but it’s original founding member Henry Fambrough is still making sure the musical universe does not forget just how majestic The Spinners were and continue to be.
Fambrough was instrumental in the formation of The Spinners way back in 1954 in Detroit before there was a Motown; the original members included Billy Henderson, Edgar Edwards, Bobby Smith, Fambrough, and Pervis Jackson.
However, it was the inspiration of Berry Gordy’s Motown which was founded in 1959 that created the atmosphere that ultimately would infuse a level of competition for budding Detroit artist, thus intensifying such groups as The Spinners to master their craft.
Although Fambrough and his boys were singing and doing their thing, they did not turn profession until 1961, but he credits that competition at Motown with the springing of multi generational hits that all evolved from Detroit.
“In 1954 that was the very beginning of us trying to find ourselves,” Fambrough explained to the Call & Post during an interview.
The Spinners, also previously known as the Detroit Spinners were signed as the first artist to Tri Phi Records, and its owners the late Harvey Fuqa and his wife Gwen Gordy, the late sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy.
Tri Phi eventually merged with Motown in the early 1960s according to Fambrough.
“With Motown there and all of the people that wanted to be in the entertainment world it was so convenient for them to go out on the boulevard and knock on the door. So many people were trying to be like the Temptations and Supremes and Marvin Gaye and you had four or five different groups trying to get people to listen to them,” Fambrough added.
By his rough estimate, Fambrough says The Spinners have performed some 200-300 times a year for more than 50 years and their next historical performance will be on Thursday Nov. 15 at the Hard Rock Racino in Northfield, Ohio as a charity benefit for the Cleveland Urban League.
Fambrough was friends with the late Aretha Franklin as well as many others from what was affectionately known as ‘Hitsville USA’.
“I knew Aretha when she was singing in her daddy’s church and we became friends and after 1961 we started to run into each other,” he recalled.
It has been heartbreaking for Fambrough to see Aretha and his original members pass away, but his passion and love for the group and its music has not waned.
“Music is always the same. You’ve had disco and rock and roll and today you have different beats and such. Music is a world wide community and people like what they like and it never changes.”
Thus the romance for such hits as ‘Rubberband Man’, ‘One of a Kind’ (Love Affair), ‘I’ll Be Around’, ‘Could It Be I’m Falling in Love’, ‘It’s a Shame’, ‘Ghetto Child’, ‘Mighty Love’, ‘Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me’, ‘Girl I Don’t Want to Lose You’, ‘Sadie’, ‘I’ll Always Love You’, ‘So Far Away’, ‘Then Came You’, ‘I Love the Music’, ‘I Just Want to Be With You’, ‘Games People Play’ and ‘Cupid’ still resonate to the heart and soul.
Current group members such as Fambrough (1954–present), Charlton Washington (2009–present), Jessie Robert Peck (2009–present), Marvin Taylor (2009–present)
Ronnie Moss (2013–present) continue to perform the 18 solid gold hits that has earned the group a Star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California, induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and twice nominated to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Fambrough cites politics as the reason why the group has not been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Thom Bell and Phil Hurtt wrote many of those hits, but the group still has the permission to perform them for their legion of adoring fans and generations of new ones who will never have to ask their parents, uncles, aunts or even grandparents, “What’s the name of that group?” It’s Spinners and yes they are still around.