Thursday, June 13, 2024

A Tribute to Motown Group The Spinners! | WATCH-Listen

The Spinners
The Spinners

*Author’s Note: Amid the recent passing of Henry Fambrough – the last original member of The Spinners – and the controversy as to why G.C. Cameron, the lead singer on their biggest Motown hit “It’s A Shame” was not included in their recent Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction, I’d like to reprint a review I wrote in 2008. It was the first and only time I saw them live onstage.

In Alhambra, a city just east of Los Angeles made up of about 86,000 people; the city where producer Phil Spector resides; Motown’s legendary Spinners performed at the 2008 Summer Jubilee (7/19/08).

The sun had already set on this outdoor venue as the Spinners took to the stage, and the minute they walked on, the audience knew something very special was about to take place. Dressed in immaculate lavender suits, their cool presence was like having an ice cream cone on a warm summer night.

They opened with “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” with the effervescent Bobby Smith on lead vocals. The group’s every step and hand gesture were synchronized to near perfection except the bass singer Pervis Jackson who, for health reasons was seated on stage as he sang his parts (man does he have a deep voice!).

Followed by “It’s A Shame” then a rendition of the Willie Nelson tune “Funny” that offered first tenor Spike Bonhart a chance to showcase his vocal range at the end of the song (that last note threatened to shatter glass!).

The Spinners
The Spinners

The Spinners who have had six Grammy nominations sang all their hits including “I’ll Be Around” and “Working My Way Back To You” and the crowd of mostly Asian and Latino descent sang and danced right along to them all. Second tenor Charlton Washington gave a moving performance of “Sadie” and “Love Don’t Love Nobody,” but his amazing grasp of the ad-lib on “Mighty Love” was so convincingly and naturally performed it was like former member Phillipe Wynne (deceased) had been resurrected!!

Backed by a five-man ensemble that was as tight as the cap on a Tylenol bottle, and locked in the dynamic beat of drummer David Brandon, the Spinners delivered a whole package that kept the audience moving higher and higher. A former conductor for the Supremes, Marvin Marshall who was in the audience said, “anytime you come out to see one of these Motown acts, you will get your money’s worth, and you will be thoroughly entertained.” Marshall was also the guitarist playing that famous intro on the Spinners recording of “It’s A Shame.” Fans were thrilled to know Marshall along with another Motown veteran, former bandleader for the Temptations, Cornelius Grant, were in the audience.

Here’s The Spinners singing on the Motown label 1966

Due to some minor technical difficulties, band member Willie Wooten (keyboard) wondered after the show if the band came across alright. Well, that question would be answered best by fans Vickie Arroyo and Bo Ballentine who were on their feet dancing and singing through most of the show who said, “It was great…awesome!” The Spinners did the Motown tradition proud!

Columnist Larry Buford
Columnist Larry Buford

Larry Buford is a contributing writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” and “Book To The Future” (Amazon). Email: [email protected]

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