Philippe Wynne, former lead singer of The Spinners, suffered a massive heart attack during a performance and died today (July 14, 1984).
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Wynne was performing in a nightclub that was popular in Oakland at the time, call Ivey’s.
Almost 200 people were in attendance when Wynne, 42, suddenly collapsed, as he reportedly danced through the crowd.
The Spinners, originally named The Domingos, started off as a Detroit-based group on the Motown record label.
The group’s first lead singer was George Dixon, who powered the 1961 hit “That’s What Girls Are Made For.”
Dixon left shortly after the group’s first hit and Chico Edwards took over as lead singer of the group until 1967.
G.C. Cameron took over and put The Spinners on the charts with the Stevie Wonder penned tune, “It’s A Shame.”
The Spinners suffered in relative obscurity, as Motown acts like The Temptations, The Four Tops, and The Supremes stood at the top of the charts.
The group feared they would be lost on Motown, so in 1971, they opted to let their contract expire and look for another label.
Cameron recommended Philippe Wynne, of Cincinnati group The Pacesetters (which also featured Bootsy Collins), as his replacement and he soon joined The Spinners.
Atlantic was looking for a hit out of Philadelphia producer Thom Bell in 1971 and they wanted him to work with a variety of acts on the label – except The Spinners – who were about to be dropped from the label.
The Spinners were also reluctant to work with Thom Bell after their experiences at Motown.
“Motown did such a number on them that they never wanted to see another black producer again,” Thom Bell said in the book “A House On Fire: The Rise and Fall of Philadelphia Soul.”
Bell got the group to work with him through a friendly wager.
If Thom Bell produced a #1 hit, they would buy him a Cadillac. If he failed, he would pay each Spinner $10,000 a piece.
Incredibly, Atlantic refused to pay for more than four songs at the legendary Sigma Sound Studios, nor would they pay The Spinners airfare to Philadelphia to record.
Still, the session produced “I’ll Be Around,” which shot to #1 on the R&B charts and sold a million copies.
Through their Philadelphia connection, The Spinners produced hits like “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love,” “Might Love,” “Games People Play,” “Sadie,” “One Of A Kind (Love Affair)” and numerous others.
In total, The Spinners landed seven #1 singles and 10 Top 10 singles with Philippe Wynne and Bobbie Smith acting as leads, until 1977, when Philippe Wynne’s mental issues began interfering with the group.
Shortly after Wynne’s departure, he released a solo album that did not fare well.
Philippe Wynne linked up with George Clinton’s Funkadelic outfit and can be heard singing on a number of tracks, including Clinton’s single “(Not Just) Knee Deep.”
Waxfact: In 1983, Philippe Wynne returned to his Philly Roots with producer Bunny Sigler and recorded the single “You Ain’t Going Anywhere but Gone” for Sugar Hill Records.