In Memoriam|

Photo: The Spinners | Henry Lee Fambrough (May 10, 1938 – February 7, 2024) was an American vocalist, known for being a member of the R&B quintet The Spinners (also called The Detroit Spinners and The Motown Spinners) from 1954 until his retirement in April 2023. He was the last surviving original member of The Spinners from 2013 until his death.

The Spinners formed in 1954 as the Domingoes before changing their name to the Spinners. Fambrough was drafted into the army in 1961, and on his return two years later, the Spinners signed up under Motown Records. They didn’t have any big hits for the next six years, and Fambrough ended up working as a chauffeur for the label boss’ mother. During the group’s heyday from the early to mid-1970s, Henry served as one of the group’s three lead singers (along with Philippé Wynne and Bobby Smith) and his rich baritone provided lead vocals for the Spinners classic “I Don’t Want To Lose You,” as well as co-lead vocals with Wynne on “Living A Little, Laughing A Little”.

On the group’s classic single “Ghetto Child,” he shared leads with Wynne and Smith. He also dueted with Dionne Warwick on the Spinners’ “Just As Long As We Have Love,” from their 1975 album Pick of the Litter, and also sang lead on the classic album cut “If You Can’t Be in Love,” from the album Happiness Is Being with the Spinners (1976). Henry was noted for the whiplash moustache he wore at that time.

With the release of the group’s most recent album Round the Block and Back Again in 2021, Fambrough is the only member of the Spinners to have been featured on every release.

On April 2023, Henry announced his retirement, but the Spinners will continue to perform without him, and he remained involved with the group behind the scenes. He was in the group for sixty-nine years. The following month, the Spinners were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, sixty-nine years after forming, and thirty-seven years after first being eligible to be inducted.

Following his announcement on retiring, he told Spinners fans: “The Spinners are still here and still singing for our people who want to hear us. And that’s not going to change. We’ll still be there for them.”

With the deaths of fellow Spinners members C. P. Spencer in 2004, Billy Henderson in 2007, Pervis Jackson in 2008, and Bobby Smith in 2013, Fambrough was the last original member of the group. He died on February 7, 2024, in Sterling, Virginia, at the age of 85.

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February 2024
7: Vaja Azarashvili, 87, Georgian composer; Henry Fambrough, 85, American Hall of Fame singer (The Spinners); Mojo Nixon, 66, American musician (“Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant with My Two-Headed Love Child”) and actor (Super Mario Bros., Great Balls of Fire!); Franco Vaz, 69, Indian drummer.

6: Vijay Anand, 71, Indian composer; Donald Kinsey, 70, American guitarist and singer (The Kinsey Report, The Wailers Band), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

5: Riikka Hakola, 61, Finnish opera singer, brain tumour; Toby Keith, 62, American country singer (“Should’ve Been a Cowboy”, “How Do You Like Me Now?!”, “Red Solo Cup”) and songwriter, stomach cancer.

4: Martin Kirkup, 75, British-born American music industry executive.

3: Aston “Family Man” Barrett, 77, Jamaican musician (Bob Marley and the Wailers, The Upsetters).

2: Steve Brown, 66, British composer, lyricist and record producer, pulmonary fibrosis; Wilhelmenia Fernandez, 75, American soprano; Wayne Kramer, 75, American guitarist (MC5) and songwriter (“Kick Out the Jams”), pancreatic cancer; Honor McKellar, 103, New Zealand operatic mezzo-soprano; Marcelo Yzurieta, 49, Argentine singer, guitarist and composer.

Photo: The Spinners – promo photo | Mr. Fambrough is 2nd from the right.

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