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The Spinners’ roots can be found in Michigan’s Royal Oak Township when childhood friends there started singing together for fun in 1954.
Their five-part harmony became legendary solid gold Philadelphia soul that has sold millions of records and chart-topping songs and led to a spot in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
With hits like “Rubberband Man” and “Then Came You,” the Spinners will kick off the 2009-10 University of South Carolina at Lancaster Performing Arts Series at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29.
The Spinners’ story is one that almost wasn’t.
After signing with Motown in the early 1960s, their stage performances drew rave reviews. A 1964 appearance at the Apollo Theater won instant acclaim from critics and fans alike.
But the success The Spinners sought at “Hitsville, U.S.A.” was elusive.
They found themselves somewhat out of place at a record label loaded with talent.
A switch to Atlantic Records in the early 1970s resulted in a collaboration with producer Thom Bell that led to unprecedented success.
It was with Bell that The Spinners found a penchant for TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia), which was a mixture of soul music infused with smooth jazz, funk and lush instrumental arrangements. Many music experts credit that sound as setting the stage for disco, which would emerge some seven to 10 years later.
It was at Atlantic in 1972 that The Spinners charted five top-10 singles (and three Top 10 songs (“I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” and “One of a Kind Love Affair” from their debut album.
A 1974 follow-up album featured three more hits, including a collaboration with Dionne Warwick, “Then Came You,” which peaked at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 as The Spinners’ first No. 1 hit.
The Spinners would hit the Billboard Top 10 again two years later with “They Just Can’t Stop It the (Games People Play)” and “The Rubberband Man.”
Hits from the 1980s include the melodies “Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me Girl” and “Cupid/I’ve Loved You for a Long Time.”
The latter, according to Atlantic, holds a special distinction for trivia buffs.
“Cupid/I’ve Loved You for a Long Time,” which contains eight words, was No. 8 on the Hot 100 on Aug. 8, 1980 (8/8/80) and was recorded by a band with an eight-letter name (“Spinners”).
Along the way, The Spinners amassed 12 gold records, hits on both the Pop and R&B charts and six Grammy nominations. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999 and their name appears on Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballots every year.
Other honors include performances before presidents and an award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation for its contributions to the music genre.
They have also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and appear on numerous television specials that pay tribute to the music of the 1970s.
Three of the original Spinners, Billy Henderson, Pervis Jackson and C.P. Spencer, are now deceased.
While they haven’t recorded in more than 25 years, The Spinners – led by original members Henry Fambrough and Bobbie Smith – remain active with a full schedule, performing to packed crowds around the world.
“We want everyone to come out and have a good time to kick off the new Performing Arts Series,” said Peggy Little, See Lancaster director.
Want to go?
WHO: The Spinners
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29
WHERE: University of South Carolina at Lancaster’s Bundy Auditorium
HOW MUCH: Tickets are $65 each and are available at the See Lancaster office inside the Springs House, 201 W. Gay St. Tickets can also be purchased online at email@example.com.
INFORMATION: 286-1145 or 285-6207 (fax)