Henry Fambrough had a musical homecoming of sorts Friday at “Hitsville U.S.A.”
Fambrough, one of the founding members of the iconic R&B group The Spinners, took a tour of Motown’s Studio A in Detroit as part of a ceremony that included the donation to the Motown Museum of 375 outfits worn by the group during performances.
It “was a long time ago,” Fambrough said of the 1960s, when he first walked into the studio. “I used to dream about this place.”
He told reporters that he had to convince his wife that the studio was where he was going for 3 a.m. rehearsals and recording sessions with other members of the group. Their first big hit for Motown was “It’s A Shame,” which peaked at No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1970.
The Spinners would later sign with Atlantic Records and turn out a string of hits that included “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love,” “Then Came You,” “The Rubberband Man” and “Mighty Love.”
“Then Came You,” which featured singer Dionne Warwick, reached No. 1 in 1974 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Their songs have received six Grammy Award nominations, and they’ve earned 18 Platinum and Gold Albums, according to The Spinners website. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced this month that The Spinners are among its 2023 inductees.
Along with Fambrough, Billy Henderson, Pervis Jackson, Bobby Smith, Philippé Wynne and John Edwards are listed as inductees.
Originally called The Domingoes, the group was formed in 1954 just north of Detroit in Ferndale. In 1964, The Spinners joined Motown Records.
Fambrough and G.C. Cameron, who joined The Spinners during their time at Motown and sang lead vocals on “It’s A Shame,” signed a deed of gift Friday formally turning over the outfits to the museum. The group also donated more than 200 pairs of shoes.
“It’s of utmost importance for us to continue to grow our expansive collection and curate artifacts from Motown alumni who shaped the Motown legacy,” said Robin Terry, Motown Museum chair and chief executive.
“We’re incredibly honored and proud to welcome the iconic Spinners home to Detroit to celebrate their rich history and accept these uniforms,” Terry added. “Their legacy will live on at Motown Museum and be displayed for fans from all over the world to see.”
Cameron said that “love was the nucleus” of Motown.
“The world beats as the heartbeat of music,” Cameron said Friday. “Everyone at Motown was on the same thought pattern.”
Cameron remained at Motown when The Spinners signed with Atlantic Records. Although a new lineup continues to record and tour as The Spinners, Fambrough has retired from performing.
Berry Gordy Jr. founded Motown Records in 1959 and kickstarted the careers of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Supremes, the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder and others.
The Motown Museum currently is expanding to a 50,000-square-foot (4,645-square-meter) entertainment and tourist destination called Hitsville NEXT.