Discussion:
Henry Fambrough, last surviving original member of The Spinners, dies at 85
Add Reply
Tom Betts
2024-02-08 14:30:55 UTC
Reply
Permalink
https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/henry-fambrough-surviving-original-member-spinners-dies-85-107049542

Henry Fambrough of the iconic R&B group The Spinners has died

DETROIT -- Henry Fambrough, the last surviving original member of the iconic R&B group The Spinners, whose hits included “It’s a Shame,” “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love" and “The Rubberband Man,” died Wednesday, a spokesperson for the group said. He was 85.

Fambrough died peacefully of natural causes in his northern Virginia home, spokesperson Tanisha Jackson said in a statement.

The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in November. Along with Fambrough, Billy Henderson, Pervis Jackson, Bobby Smith, Philippé Wynne and John Edwards were listed as inductees.

Last May, Fambrough took a tour of Motown’s Studio A in Detroit as part of a ceremony that included the donation to the Motown Museum of 375 outfits worn by the group during performances.

It “was a long time ago,” Fambrough said at the time of the 1960s, when he first walked into the studio. “I used to dream about this place.”

He told reporters that he had to convince his wife that the studio was where he was going for 3 a.m. rehearsals and recording sessions with other members of the group. Their first big hit for Motown was “It’s A Shame,” which peaked at No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1970.

The Spinners would later sign with Atlantic Records and turn out a string of hits that included “Then Came You,” which featured singer Dionne Warwick and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974.

Their songs received six Grammy Award nominations and earned 18 platinum and gold albums.

Originally called The Domingoes, the group was formed in 1954 just north of Detroit in Ferndale. The Spinners joined Motown Records 10 years later.

Fambrough's survivors include his wife of 52 years, Norma, and daughter Heather Williams.
Lenona
2024-02-08 21:06:37 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Tom Betts
https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/henry-fambrough-surviving-original-member-spinners-dies-85-107049542
Henry Fambrough of the iconic R&B group The Spinners has died
DETROIT -- Henry Fambrough, the last surviving original member of the iconic R&B group The Spinners, whose hits included “It’s a Shame,” “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love" and “The Rubberband Man,” died Wednesday, a spokesperson for the group said. He was 85.
Aaaaand...


(4:32 minutes)

I liked the "Back to School" commercials as well.
Louis Epstein
2024-02-09 20:53:00 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Mr. Fambrough was the last surviving original member of the
black,Detroit-based Spinners originally The Domingoes;
Mick Groves and Hughie Jones are surviving original members
of the white-except-for-Cliff-Hall Liverpool-based Spinners

originally the Gin Mill Skiffle Group.
Both were formed in the 1950s.

-=-=-
The World Trade Center towers MUST rise again,
at least as tall as before...or terror has triumphed.
radioacti...@gmail.com
2024-02-12 20:37:49 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Yeah, I'll certainly miss the late, ever-smiling Henry Fambrough...AND his Gay Nineties-style* mustache! But as a soul fan who considers the best tracks of The Spinners the finest R&B we heard during the 1979s. (Though they were FROM Motown's tiny north-abutting-suburb of Ferndale, they weren't ON Motown Records, but rather on Atlantic Records under Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegon.)

The Spinners were arguably the finest '70s soul ever, and with their polished sound was WAY more akin to the so-called "Philadelphia sound" that their records so melodiously showcased than they ever were to the typically rougher-sounding tunes Motown was churning out from their tiny "Hitsville" facility (a modest middle-class house-turned-double-studio on the south side of Detroit's Grand Avenue). That nowadays-museum, incidentally, is situated a mile or so west of the massive GM Headquarters on Grand, nowadays Detroit's new City Hall and an edifice directly across that wide boulevard from The Fisher Building, which just happened to be my commercial-newstalk-radio home of 1993-96 WJR/Detroit, a so-called "heritage" station which still occupies floors 21-23 of that historic building, with studios on the 22nd.)

And in ANY discussion of LONG career of The Spinners, this must be pointed out:

After the late Bobby Smith finally joined the group after their early hit of "It's a Shame" (lead-voiced by the soon-quitting G.C. Cameron), Smith quickly emerged as the Elvis in this group...though it's true that every Spinner got to sing lead here or there here or there on their lesser album tracks. (Smith was ALSO the source of the name the group finally settled on; the wheel-cover spinners that Smith had on his car are said to be how they got their collective name, after a couple earlier names were discarded early on.)

But Bobby wasn't merely the best Spinners SINGER--he was ALSO hands-down their best stage-dancer! Now, Fambrough was usually a top-notch too dancer too--but usually off to the side, but seldom executed his moves as immaculately as Smith ALWAYS did. (Meanwhile, the OTHER Spinners typically looked like they seldom rehearsed their intricate legs-AND-arms/hands maneuvers, and thus were quite often seriously out of phase with Smith and Fambrough, who always each appeared like they DID work diligently on their moves, choriography which was nearly as key an element of their fantastic act as their polished vocals always were.)

An important story concerning Fambrough goes like this: on their landmark "Games People Play"*** hit--one of the most intricate recordings ever to dominate the Top 40 charts that were for so long the bread-and-butter of AM radio--it SOUNDS as though there is some female vocalist chiming in three times along the record's extended duration. Adding to the confusion about this aspect of "Games People Play" over the years, at one point producer (and Spinners longtime guiding light) Thom Bell even floated a specific name (though I can't now recall it) which purportedly identified the female supposedly brought in on the session.

BUT: years later, Fambrough would admit in some interview that that was indeed WAS Fambrough himself all along, though singing in a key a half-step--or even a full-step?--lower, and that the late Bell then sped up the playback-overdubs of those three inserts so they'd be in the same key as Smith, et al. rendered "Games People Play". (In any event, when the group would lip-synch the tune as they did on "Soul Train" [linked below], Fambrough would take the part of mouthing the lyrics that that fictive female session singer supposedly added when they originally recorded it.)

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
-------------------------------------
* That would be the 1890s, NOT the century-hence decade of 1990-1999--a much-more recent ten-year stretch which were in fact WAY more "gay"** than the 1890s EVER were, at least outside the closet.
** And yeah, I realize NO one thought "gay" meant anything other than "joyous" until after the June 1969 Stonewall thing in NYC...when things changed forever after some classic-movie buff screened a frilly-nightgown-clad Cary Grant [in "Bringing Up Baby", in 1938] declaring, "I just went all gay on you. All of a sudden!!"
*** And yeah, I realize that that elaborate Spinners tune is actually titled "They Just Can't Stop It"...but like that OTHER "Games People Play" hit--a so-so song by the late Joe South which also penetrated the AM radio charts (and who oddly enough was ALSO a "Blonde on Blonde" session guy [!]), EVERYBODY calls the Spinners tune "Games People Play", despite the inevitable Spinners-or-South? confusion this all causes amongst aging AM radio buffs!
===================
Soul Train lip-synch:

radioacti...@gmail.com
2024-02-12 23:53:40 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Now, if you dismissed (as more tiresome Styble rhapsodizing hyperbole) my above-thread declaration of the late Bobby Smith [expired on Saturday, March, 16, 2013] as nothing less than the Presley* of The Spinners, consider this link, from "The Midnight Special". It of course isn't as pristine as the studio take, it's still a most remarkable performance of a remarkable tune, and nearly as exquisite as the laboriously-produced recording you still hear on oldies stations.

Young folk may not know The Midnight Special as that Fridays-on-NBC broadcast brainchild of Burt Sugarman (hubby of the still-oft-seen-behind-Dodgers'-home plate Mary Hart, original and to date still best "Entertainment Tonight" host). Now I gather backstage honcho Sugarman didn'I have many MSpecial rules, but one WAS said to be ironclad AND wonderfully simple: No lip-synch. (Same policy held by Ed Sullivan, no?):

So this version of The Spinners' perhaps finest recording ever demonstrate how Bobby Smith was every bit the talented vocalist as was the 1956-58 Elvis.

Smith's vocals here are simply DRENCHED with nuance, and his movements exquisite, as notably were those of the more-acrobatic, cinematic dancing Nicholas Brothers. Like the Nicholases would explain in interviews, Smith also clearly understood that HANDS are as essential to any dance act as are the feet. Smith's arms here on MS are exponentially more beautiful to watch than any affected movements Jagger ever subjected a Rolling Stones audience to.

With maybe the exception of my all-time fave Marvin Gaye clip ("Ain't That Peculiar?" linked below, and also not lip-synched--though a pal insists I'm naive about that). But Smith in that MSpecial performance arguably matches Gaye even here. Bottom line, I don't know of ANYONE in classic soul to equal Bobby Smith's stunning package of talent.

(And yeah, the dapper Henry Fambrough certainly played an elegant Robin to Smith's soaring-then-glidin'-then-boppin' Batman.)

BRYAN STBYLE/Florida
==================
* Uh, that would be Elvis Aron, NOT Jesse Garon...though J.G. TOO would probably have been a prodigiously-talented vocalist, had he ever had the chance sometime after Tuesday, January 8, 1935); J.G. is indeed reported to have had identical DNA, after all.
==================
Spinners "I'll Be Around":

--------------------
Marvin Gay "Ain't That Peculiar?":

=============
David Samuel Barr
2024-02-13 14:43:57 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by ***@gmail.com
Yeah, I'll certainly miss the late, ever-smiling Henry Fambrough...AND his Gay Nineties-style* mustache!
But as a soul fan who considers the best tracks of The Spinners the finest R&B we heard during the 1979s.
(Though they were FROM Motown's tiny north-abutting-suburb of Ferndale, they weren't ON Motown Records,
but rather on Atlantic Records under Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegon.)
The Spinners were arguably the finest '70s soul ever, and with their polished sound was WAY more akin to
the so-called "Philadelphia sound" that their records so melodiously showcased than they ever were to the
typically rougher-sounding tunes Motown was churning out from their tiny "Hitsville" facility (a modest
middle-class house-turned-double-studio on the south side of Detroit's Grand Avenue).[extreme snippage, to isolate the relevant points]
Not to nitpick, but (as I've previously
pointed out in discussions of the Spinners
here in Decembers 2021 and 2022) they were
in fact on Motown for most of the 1960s
but were dropped from the label in 1970
once their biggest hit on it ("It's a
Shame") ended its chart run (the lead
singer, G.C. Cameron, had left the group
and the label didn't think the group had a
future without him). The move to Atlantic
Records in 1972 united the group with Thom
Bell, the architect (with Kenny Gamble &
Leon Huff) of "The Philadelphia Sound",
as their producer/arranger, hence their
sound was a part of, not just akin, to it.
radioacti...@gmail.com
2024-02-13 17:38:45 UTC
Reply
Permalink
You're hardly "nitpicking", Sir Barr; "correcting boneheaded factual inaccuracy from Styble" is a far better description of your data!

My problem seems to be that I'm not merely a Spinners devotee, but more specifically, a Spinners Atlantic Records fanatic.

[[ ALSO, on a thoroughly separate matter: Rest assured that I'm nearing completion of a lengthy reply to your kind and enlightening e-missive recently received at: RadioactiveSeattle ["at-sign"] Gmail.com ]]

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida

Loading...