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The Sweet, Sweet Spinners
One of the more underrated Motown groups, The Spinners have been making music for over 60 years and they don't show any signs of stopping. From young men growing up in the projects north of Detroit to international super stars, the Spinners have always been known for their smooth beats, unique vocals, and memorable tunes. Even people who don't know the name "The Spinners" probably know at least a few of their songs.
Though they have gone through a number of membership changes over the years, the band's first lineup started performing together near the Herman Gardens public housing project in Ferndale, Michigan. That's when Billy Henderson, Henry Fambrough, Pervis Jackson, C. P. Spencer and James Edwards decided to start making music. Edwards would soon leave and be replaced by Bobby Smith, whose voice would be the lead for so many of the band's early hits.
Originally called the Domingoes, they changed their name in 1961 and started touring the Detroit music scene, hitting the charts at number 27 with "That's What Girls Are Made For." They followed it up with "Love (I'm So Glad) I Found You" and several other songs for Tri-Phi Records and producer Harvey Fuqua. Fuqua was heavily involved in the band's development, coaching Bobby Smith's singing and helping the group capture their iconic sound.
They floundered for a while, mostly a local act until Fuqua's brother-in-law, Berry Gordy bought Tri-Phi, put the band on the Motown label and premiered them at the Apollo to high acclaim. Yet real fame still eluded the band. Even 1970's "It's a Shame," written by good friend singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder, didn't solidify their presence as a major talent despite doing fantastic on the charts and getting significant radio play.
Finally, in 1972 they made it all the way up to No. 3 on the Billboard R&B charts with "I'll Be Around," a memorable little song with absolutely killer vocals from Smith that sounded both off-the-cuff and unquestionably precise. They followed it up with "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love," "One of a Kind (Love Affair)" and "Ghetto Child," the last two sung by new frontman Philippé Wynne. Their next album had three top 20 singles including "Then Came You," a vocal collaboration between Bobby Smith and Dione Warwick that managed to not only hit No. 1, but did it on the Billboard pop charts, instead of the R&B charts.
This was the turning point for the band, which was starting to pave the way for a new genre of music: adult urban contemporary. Over the next decade, the blend of easy grooves and spectacular vocals would only grow in popularity, led by the Spinners, but also featuring such incredible talents as Luther Vandross and Anita Baker.
It was also around this time that they left Motown Records and found a home at Atlantic, where they would make many of their biggest hits..
They had two more top 10 singles during the '70s, eventually relaxing their touring and recording schedules in order to pursue other activities. They released a boxed set called The Chrome Collection, which was praised by artists like David Bowie and Elvis Costello for its excellent vocals, great backgrounds and musical innovation. Performers the world over know the Spinners for their tight harmonies and understated coolness, occasionally punctuated by the dynamic vocals of Philippé Wynne.
In modern times, people still know many of the band's biggest hits, recognizing the unique instrumentation and iconic backing tracks that have been sampled time and time again by artists in all genres. They've been put on soundtracks and remixed for clubs. Their subtle harmonies, soft beats and strong lead vocals make for one of the most musically innovative acts of the former Motown stable.
Because of their remarkable history and talent, it is very exciting to have the Spinners at Isle Casino Hotel® Bettendorf. The Isle® has one of the best local venues for musical acts because it combines a convenient location with a comfortable atmosphere at a great price. An intimate space that makes every note sound crystal clear and lets the audience immerse themselves in the smooth, classic sounds of one of the biggest R&B acts ever to hit the stage.
Don't miss out on this opportunity to hear some of the most beloved songs in the American musical canon, performed by the sweet, sweet Spinners on Saturday, March 21 at Isle Casino Hotel Bettendorf.
From an obscure local band on the edges of the Detroit music scene to one of the biggest and most recognizable groups in the world, the Spinners have had quite a run. And they're still out there bringing their sensational music to fans everywhere.