Today's piece of Lost Jewelry from the Vaults at Oldiez 93 for Friday, December 6th, 2013, comes from Jimmy Ruffin!
On December 24th, 1966, "I've Passed This Way Before" entered Billboard's Top 40 and passed its way up to #17, spending eight weeks in the chart.
Jimmy Lee Ruffin (born May 7, 1939) is an American soul singer, and elder brother of David Ruffin of The Temptations. He had several hit records between the 1960s and 1980s, the most successful being "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted."
Jimmy Ruffin was born in Collinsville, Mississippi, and was approaching his second birthday when his brother David was born. As children, the brothers began singing with a gospel group, the Dixie Nightingales. In 1961, Jimmy became a singer as part of the Motown stable, mostly on sessions but also recording singles for its subsidiary Miracle label, but was then drafted for national service. After leaving the Army in 1964, he returned to Motown, where he was offered the opportunity to join the Temptations to replace Elbridge Bryant. However, after hearing his brother David, they hired him for the job instead so Jimmy decided to resume his solo career. Jimmy Ruffin recorded for Motown's subsidiary Soul label, but with little success.
In 1966, he heard a song about unrequited love written for The Spinners, and persuaded the writers that he should record it himself. His recording of "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" became a major success and he felt he was on his way to becoming a star. The song reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #6 on the R&B Chart. It also initially reached #10 in the UK singles chart, rising to #4 when it was reissued in the UK in 1974. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" remained Ruffin's best-known song. The intended follow-up, "East Side West Side," written by Ron Welser and Flamingos' member Terry "Buzzy" Johnson, was released only in Australia, due to an argument with Motown head Berry Gordy. Nevertheless, follow-ups in the US were successful, with "I've Passed This Way Before" and "Gonna Give Her All the Love I've Got" reaching the US charts in late 1966 and early 1967.
Jimmy Ruffin found success in the US hard to sustain, and began to concentrate instead on the British market. In 1970, "Farewell Is a Lonely Sound," "I'll Say Forever My Love" and "It's Wonderful (To Be Loved By You)" each made the UK top ten, and he was voted the world's top singer in one British poll. He also teamed up with brother David to record the album I Am My Brother's Keeper, a modestly successful album for Motown that included the songs "When The Love Hand Comes Down," "Your Love Was Worth Waiting For" and a cover of Ben E. King's Stand by Me." Following the success of his first two hits, he found it hard to maintain an identity, as most of his songs were later covered by other Motown artists, most prominently "Everybody Needs Love," a hit when covered by Gladys Knight & The Pips, "Maria (You Were The Only One)," a hit for Michael Jackson and "If You Let Me," a minor hit for Eddie Kendricks. In addition, he had recorded the first version of The Temptations hit "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep."
He then left Motown, and recorded for the Polydor and Chess labels, where he recorded "Tell Me What You Want." In 1980, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees produced his album Sunrise and the hit single "Hold On To My Love," which reached #10 in the US and #7 in the UK, on the RSO label.
In the 1980s Ruffin moved to live in Britain, where he continued to perform successfully. In December 1984 he collaborated with Paul Weller of The Style Council for his benefit single "Soul Deep." This went under the name of The Council Collective and Jimmy appeared with Paul on Radio 1 to say he is involved because his father worked down the mines and "he understands the suffering." In 1986 he collaborated with the British pop group Heaven 17, singing "A Foolish Thing To Do" and "My Sensitivity" on a 12" EP record. He also recorded duets with both Maxine Nightingale and Brenda Holloway. Later, Ruffin hosted a radio show in the UK for a time, and became an anti-drug advocate following the 1991 drug overdose death of his brother David. Ruffin was portrayed by Lamman Rucker in the 1998 Temptations mini-series.
Jimmy Ruffin currently lives in the Las Vegas, Nevada area.
Following the 2010 release of his album My Brother's Keeper, Jimmy Ruffin had been writing and recording songs for a new album which - at last word - he had planned to release on his recent 74th birthday (May 7, 2013). However, no such release appeared.