Henry Fambrough Dies: Last Surviving Original Member Of The Spinners Was 85

Henry Fambrough, the last surviving original member of the great, hit-making R&B vocal group The Spinners, died yesterday at his home in Northern Virginia. He was 85.

His death was announced on the group’s Instagram page. No cause was given, but the announcement notes that Fambrough died peacefully.

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Fambrough, whose rich baritone could be easily discerned in the group’s signature vocal mix on hits such as “I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love?” and “One of a Kind (Love Affair),” formed the Domingoes, the group that would become the Spinners, in 1954 with his suburban Detroit friends Billy Henderson, Pervis Jackson, C.P. Spencer and James Edwards.

Various personnel changes would take place over the next 20 years before the group settled into into what would be its classic and most successful five-man lineup with Fambrough, Henderson, Jackson, Bobbie Smith and Philippé Wynne.

Henry Fambrough at the 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York (Getty Images)
Henry Fambrough at the 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York (Getty Images)

Following a few minor chart successes, the group’s first major hit came in 1970 with “It’s a Shame,” co-written and produced by Stevie Wonder, which reached No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Two years later, the group had its breakout success with the soul classic “I’ll Be Around,” which hit No. 3. The Spinners followed that up with another R&B smash, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love?” which also reached the Top 5. “One of a Kind (Love Affair)” just missed the Top 10 in 1973.

The Spinners would have their biggest chart hit in 1974 with “Then Came You,” featuring Dionne Warwick, which topped the Hot 100. The group would have four more Top 10 hits through 1980: “They Just Can’t Stop It (Games People Play),” “The Rubberband Man” and the medleys “Working My Way Back to You”/“Forgive Me, Girl” and “Cupid”/“Loved You for a Love Time.”

The group also had a pair of Top 10 albums in the mid-’70s with New and Improved and Pick of the Litter. Their 1976 LP Happiness Is Being with the Detroit Spinners went gold. The final Spinners album, Round the Block and Back Again, came out in 2021

The Spinners — Fambrough, Henderson, Jackson, Smith, Wynne and John Edwards — were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year on their fourth nominaiton, shortly after Fambrough had announced his retirement. Both he and singer John Edwards, who joined the group in 1977, were in attendance.

Fambrough is survived by his wife of 52 years, Norma, daughter Heather Williams, son-in-law Ronald, sister Martha, and other extended family.

Erik Pedersen contributed to this report

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