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November 20th, 2014

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By Randy Lewis | LA TIMES Staff Writer | November 19, 2014, 3:55 PM


Any suspicions that soul singer Jimmy Ruffin might have harbored hard feelings after his younger brother, David, snatched one of the great gigs in 1960s pop music out of his hands would have been dispelled when the siblings came together in 1970 to collaborate on a harmonious update of Ben E. King’s signature ode to solidarity, “Stand By Me.”

“Jimmy Ruffin was a phenomenal singer. He was truly underrated.”
- Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records

Motown's Jimmy Ruffin circa 1966

Motown’s Jimmy Ruffin circa 1966

Jimmy Ruffin, who died Monday in a Las Vegas hospital at age 78, had been in the running to join the lineup of Motown Records’ great male vocal group the Temptations in 1964. But when the other members of the group heard David sing, they gave him the job for his slightly grittier sound.

That didn’t sideline Jimmy for long: He heard a song that Motown writers William Weatherspoon, Paul Riser and James Dean had crafted with the Spinners in mind, and persuaded them to let him record it.

“What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” a lament for the anguish a man feels in the face of love that has departed, gave Ruffin his first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It ignited a solo career that comprised 10 other charted singles, the last of which, “Hold On To My Love,” brought him back to the Top 10 in 1980 during a new round of popularity, the result of his move to England to further his career overseas.

“Jimmy Ruffin was a phenomenal singer,” Motown founder Berry Gordy said in a statement Wednesday. “He was truly underrated because we were also fortunate to have his brother, David, as the lead singer of the Temptations, who got so much acclaim. Jimmy, as a solo artist, had ‘What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,’ one of the greatest songs put out by Motown and also one of my personal favorites.”

MCRFB note: For the rest of this Los Angeles Times Jimmy Ruffin Obituary article (November 19, 2014), please GO HERE.

Randy Lewis | Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Jimmy Ruffin

JIMMY RUFFIN (May 7, 1936 – November 19, 2014)

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