Soul legend Bobby Smith, who was the first lead singer of iconic soul group the Spinners, has died aged 76.
In a public statement issued by the group’s management, it was revealed that Smith was diagnosed with lung cancer in November and passed away on Saturday, March 16 due to complications related to pneumonia and influenza at a hospital in Orlando, FL.
Smith’s distinctive tenor vocals can be found fronting many of the Spinners’ biggest hits during their tenure with Atlantic Records in the ’70s, including “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” and “I’ll Be Around.”
The Spinners was founded by a group of school friends in Ferndale, Michigan who came together to make music. Originally called the Domingoes, Bobby Smith (spelled Bobbie early in his career) joined the group after one of the members quit a few weeks in. After a few more changes to the line-up, the group changed their name to the Spinners, inspired by the spinning of car hub caps.
In an interview with Naples News in December, Smith shared that his close connection with his fans is what kept him going though all of his performances: “Our fans are very close to us and we have many who have been in touch with the group for many years—I mean, some that have been in touch with us as long as 40 years. Our music has been said to have started relationships and even families.
“I look at this like i’m semi-retired. I would miss my fans. As long as I feel good and feel like I can do it, I’m going to keep on.”
Founding member Henry Fambrough now stands as the last surviving member of the band’s original line-up, and is still performing with the band today.
Listen to ‘The Spinners’ perform ‘Could It Be I’m Falling In Love’ below:
It’s worth noting that in the top comment of this video YouTube user mrjoshjones1 offered wisdom eight months ago that must surely ring true to every fan of The Spinners: “If you ever get a chance to see a Spinners show, do it. There will only ever be one BOBBY SMITH and one HENRY FAMBROUGH. You will never regret the great experience watching TRUE legendary talent with 50+ years in the business.”
Watch Bobbie Smith sing the lead in ‘I’ll Be Around’ below: