Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He and his fellow Spinners got off to a rocky start. They signed with Motown Records in the mid 60's and although they were in the middle of the action, they found themselves overlooked by Motown's bigger stars. Having no hits and feeling no love, it was somewhat ironic that as they decided to leave the label in 1970, Stevie Wonder wrote and produced the group's very first international smash, 'It's A Shame'. With this hit under their belt they still pursued another path, heading to Philadelphia to work with a new talented songwriter-producer called Thom Bell. It was the right place to be as Philly also had the dynamic team of Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff also bursting through with their Philadelphia International. Thus would begin in the early 70's the golden age of sweet soul music, putting a spotlight on artists such as The O'Jays, Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes and The Stylistics, and though all of these groups hailed from the City of Brotherly Love, The Spinners with some the biggest hits of the genre came from the industrial motor city of Detroit.
1973 would see the beginning of an extended run of big hits for The Spinners, beginning with their album 'Spinners' giving them four Top 10 hits. Throughout the decade they were rarely off the charts with hit after hit, picking up gold and platinum albums and Grammys along the way. Here in the UK, they were known as The Detroit Spinners to avoid confusion with a British folk outfit with the same name. My own memory of seeing The Spinners live in concert stems back to 1976 when they performed at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. The Spinners were very slick and professional, easily holding their own even though the support group was the (then red hot and never been to the UK before) New York funk outfit, Brass Construction. A mis-match of sorts with the high energy of BC, then followed by the smooth sounds of The Spinners, but a great show nonetheless. A great band, a great singer. Bobby Smith will be missed but he has left us a bunch of memorable songs. R.I.P. Bobby Smith.