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    Spencer, C.P. (13 January 1938 – 20 October 2004)

    Tenor who started out singing doo-wop with baritone Walter Gaines on the streets of Detroit, Michigan.  The two of them would eventually wind up singing with the Five Stars, but not before an exhibition of band-hopping usually reserved for reed instrumentalists in the big-band era.  In 1953, Charles Lee and C.P. Spencer took over the tenor positions in a band called The Thrillers.  Shortly thereafter, The Thrillers changed their name to The 5 Jets.  In 1954, Spencer was an ersatz member of The Domingoes, the group that would become The Spinners.  He was with them until 1956 or 1957, when The Five Stars were recording for a young producer named Berry Gordy, Jr.  They released a couple of singles in the late ‘50s:  “Ooh Shucks”/”Dead Wrong” was pressed onto 45 and 78; “Blabber Mouth”/”Baby Baby” was later re-released to capitalize on the novelty craze.  The Five Stars evolved into The Voicemasters, which included Lamont Dozier, Ty Hunter, and David Ruffin.  Gwen Gordy, Berry’s sister, took an interest in them and released “Hope and Pray”/”Oops, I’m Sorry” on the Anna label.  Their next release was unusual in that it was the same song on both sides, “Needed”, with an upbeat version on one side and a mellower version, “For Lover’s Only”, on the flip side.  Spencer sang lead on both.  The song became a local sensation, but subsequent releases, like 1960’s “In Love in Vain”/”Two Lovers” went nowhere.  In 1962, Spencer decided to go solo, under the moniker of Spencer Sterling.  It was not the only other name he went by:  At various times, he is listed by his birth name, Crathman Plato Spencer, and the nom-de-plume, Spencer Craftman.  In 1964, The Voicemasters went their separate ways and out of the ruins were born The Originals, comprising Hank Dixon, Walter Gaines, Freddie Gorman, and C.P. Spencer.  Their early efforts didn’t do much, but they were in demand as a backing group on albums such as 1968’s Marvin Gaye album, I Heard it through the Grapevine!.  Marvin was instrumental in getting the band some recognition, recommending “Baby I’m For Real” to the group and producing it himself.  The song topped the R&B chart and went to #14 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1969.  Its follow-up, “The Bells”, was co-written and produced by Gaye and went to #4 and #12 on the R&B and pop charts, respectively.  The Originals remained loyal to Marvin, singing back-up on 1970’s That’s the Way Love Is and 1971’s What’s Going On, all the while releasing their own successful singles.  “God Bless Whoever Sent You”, “I Like Your Style” and “We Can Make It Baby” all made it into the R&B top twenty.  In 1972, Spencer quit the band and decided to fly solo again.  “Still Holding On”/”Say it like the Children” was never released, however.  In the late ‘70s, Spencer rejoined the group for a couple of albums on the Fantasy label:  Another Time, Another Place and Come Away with Me.  When Ty Hunter, Spencer’s replacement from 1972 to 1978, passed away on 24th February 1981, the band finished one more album and then called it quits.  Yesterday and Today was their last hurrah and yielded a modest hit, “Waitin’ on a Letter”/”Mr. Postman”, which grazed the R&B chart at #74.  Spencer turned up again in 1989 with a song he co-wrote with Ian Levine and Steve Wagner, entitled “One Heart for Hire”.  Ian Levine was the brainchild of Motorcity Records and recruited Spencer into his arsenal of artists.  He can be found on several Motorcity compilations, including The Best of Motorcity, Body and Soul, and The Soul Men of Detroit.  On 20th October 2004, Spencer died of cardiac arrest at the age of 65.  His recording of “This Man Needs You”, co-written by Ian Levine and Sylvia Moy, appears on Levine’s Solid Ground album and on the DVDs, Don’t Forget the Motor City and Northern Soul’s 200 Greatest Floorfillers.  In 2009, Spencer’s recording of “You’re So Fantastic” showed up on the compilation, Running in another Direction.

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.soulwalking.co.uk/Originals.html
    2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/c-p-spencer-682004.html
    3. http://home.att.net/~marvy42/Thrillers/thrillers.html
    4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spinners_%28soul_music%29
    5. http://soulfuldetroit.com/archives/2198/1434.html?1039074735
    6. http://www.allthingsdeep.com/dge/spinners.htm
    7. http://www.geocities.com/supremefan/artistsns.html#LIONEL%20RITCHIE
    8. http://www.colorradio.com/five_stars.htm
    9. http://www.soulfulkindamusic.net/hdh.htm
    10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Azn2amey8-g
    11. http://www.soullyoldies.com/originals-biography.html
    12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Originals
    13. http://hr.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Heard_It_Through_the_Grapevine_%28album%29
    14. http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/6b211b8b-ee89-4a42-b180-0d2f809fa67c
    15. http://hr.wikipedia.org/wiki/That%27s_the_Way_Love_Is_%28album%29
    16. http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/music/Whats-Going-On-Deluxe-Edition-Marvin-Gaye/044001340420-item.html
    17. http://www.seabear.se/Motown03.html
    18. http://music.barnesandnoble.com/Artist/CP-Spencer/c/170945
    19. http://www.black-music-collectors.com/labels/nightmare.htm
    20. http://www.answers.com/topic/soul-men-of-detroit
    21. http://www.discomusic.com/people-more/3235_0_11_0_C80/
    22. http://music.qtrax.com
    23. http://yousee.musik.tdconline.dk
    24. http://www.fandango.com/c.p.spencer/filmography/p570883
    25. http://video.barnesandnoble.com/DVD/Dont-Forget-the-Motor-City/Marie-Wells/e/022891469292
    26. http://lifeandsoulreviews.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.html
    27. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Running-Another-Direction-Various-Artists/dp/B0028O376K

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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