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Bobbie Smith dies at 76; singer with the Spinners

March 18, 2013|By Glenn Whipp
  • Members of the Spinners -- John Edwards, left, Bobbie Smith, Henry Fambrough, Pervis Jackson and Billy Henderson -- in 1997.
Members of the Spinners -- John Edwards, left, Bobbie Smith, Henry Fambrough,… (Marty Lederhandler / Associated…)

Singer Bobbie Smith of the Detroit soul group the Spinners died Saturday in Orlando. He was 76.

Smith, according to a statement released today by the band's manager and reported by Associated Press, died of complications from pneumonia and influenza. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer in November.

Along with Henry Fambrough, Smith was one of the group's two remaining original members still performing with the band. His tenor voice was out in front on a number of the Spinners' biggest Atlantic Records hits in the '70s, including "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love," "I'll Be Around," "Games People Play" and the 1974 Dionne Warwick duet "Then Came You."

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Originally calling themselves the Domingoes, Smith and Fambrough formed the group in 1957 with high school classmates Pervis Jackson, George W. Dixon and Billy Henderson. Smith sang lead on their first hit, the 1961 top 10 R&B single "That's What Girls Are Made For." 

The band recorded for Detroit label Motown later in the 1960s, but was best known for its work with producer, arranger and songwriter Thom Bell, helping define the lush sound of Philly soul in the 1970s. The group's final top 10 hits came in 1980 with medley, disco-beat versions of "Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me Girl" and "Cupid/I've Loved You for a Long Time."

The Spinners remained active through the years on the oldies circuit, with Smith and Fambrough continuing to lead a new incarnation of the band through last year.

Information on survivors was not available.

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