2023 Introduction: With The Spinners being inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and with the release of the SoulMusic Records’ 7CD box set, “Ain’t No Price On Happiness,” we revisit this classic interview from 1975….
The Spinners: Living And Laughing
by David Nathan
If you talk about supergroups these days, it is inevitable that The Spinners will enter your conversation. In the relatively short space of four years, the group have picked up gold awards for their three albums for Atlantic Records and several gold singles take pride of place in the group’s homes. In fact, their very latest album, “New & Improved” actually shipped gold — in other words, initial sales reached over the million mark in dollars, certainly no mean feat these days. When I spoke with Pervis Jackson, The Spinners were just a few weeks away from their European jaunt, playing at the classy Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. So successful was their engagement at the venue that the group were literally held over for a few extra days!
“This particular gig has been truly fantastic,” explained Pervis. “And, let me let you into a secret. Thom Bell came down on our opening night and is down tonight, because we’re cutting a ‘live’ album based on our stage act. It’ll be basically our usual stage performance but we have an extra special treat. We’re including “Then Came You” on the album and you know who we have doing it with us? None other than Linda Creed, the lady who co-writes so much of the material with Thom. Linda used to be a performer herself, before she started into writing and she’s enjoyed doing the song with us on stage so much that she’s gonna stay here till the end of the engagement!”
Much of the group’s recent activities have included a considerable amount of television work and, of course, they appeared at the Grammys a few weeks back. “Naturally we were disappointed that we didn’t win. After all, we’ve been nominated three times — every year since we joined Atlantic — and it would have been great to get a Grammy. We feel that it is something we all want to achieve really badly because it’s like recognition from your own colleagues. But we did enjoy performing at the ceremony immensely. It was a whole lotta fun! But you know it was pretty crazy, because we were working that night so we had to make a show, rush into New York for the ceremony, then out again for the gig — phew!” Pervis then turned his attention to the group’s newest album. “The album is actually taken from a whole load of tracks we cut at the same time as it was originally planned that we’d have a double album. So we have a whole album still in there, in the can. But this album seems to be better than ever. A lot of radio stations are hitting on “Sadie” and I think it may well end up being our next single, because of the radio response to it. We have “Living Just A Little” out right now and that side, together with the flip are really picking up sales and play. “Smile” seems to be doing really well and it’s a similar situation to the one we had first time out with Atlantic on “I’ll Be Around” and “How Could I Let You Get Away”. But you know what happened with that one!” laughs the man.
Talking of flip sides, we got onto the subject of “Just As Long As We Have Love”, undoubtedly one of the finest sides that the Spinners have cut, which was of course the other side of the million-selling duet the group did with Dionne Warwick. “Funny you should mention that, a lot of people commented on how they really dug that side in particular. And you know, originally, it could have been the top side. We had recorded it first and then Thom came out to California, where we were with Dionne and brought us “Then Came You”. In fact, we cut that in California not Philadelphia. Anyway, Dionne didn’t like it as much as “Just As Long” and she bet Thom that nothing would happen with “Then Came You”. Fortunately, the bet was for just one dollar but, needless to say, she had to pay up!”
Reflecting on their period with Atlantic, Pervis had this to say: “We’d naturally always hoped that we’d be successful but we never imagined that it would happen the way it has since we’ve been with the company. It really happened so fast for us that, naturally, it took some time for us to adjust to it all. We couldn’t have anticipated this new situation, especially after the lack of exposure we’d had before. You know, it was almost like starting all over again for us. But you find you set yourself new goals. Like now, our thing is to get a Grammy — it was a thrill picking up our gold records for the first time. Now we have that to look to.”
Pervis says that the group are naturally thankful to a lot of people who’ve helped them along the way. “Thom Bell has, of course, been truly fantastic. He has been with us every step of the way, together with his staff and the musicians. Then, people like Buddy Allen, our manager, have just been so helpful and have encouraged us in everything we do. Naturally, Atlantic Records have just done everything possible to put us where we are and all the d.j.s throughout the country have done so much by playing our records. But we have to lay the credit where it’s due: the public. For all their support, all we can say is thank you for everything from the bottom of our hearts!”
That last statement is indeed typical of the Spinners’ attitude to their fans and Pervis expressed the group’s excitement at coming back to Europe. “We were supposed to make it over there last year but what with the energy crisis and all, it just never happened. But we are really looking to it now, because the people over there are so warm and so responsive to us. And we reckon this tour is gonna be really something else!” On that positive note, we concluded our interview and, Europe, get ready because the Spinners will have you living, laughing and loving with their own very special brand of super soul.
© 2023, David Nathan, All Rights Reserved