A Rockapaedia Obituary
Jimmy Ruffin died aged seventy-eight on 17th November 2014, in Las Vegas, U.S.A. He was interred in the Garden of Eternal Life Section at Palm Memorial Park Northwest Cemetery, Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, U.S.A..
Jimmy Ruffin lived in the area of Las Vegas, Nevada where on October 17th 2014, it was reported that he was gravely ill and had been taken into an intensive care unit at the hospital.
Jimmy Ruffin was born in 1936 in Collinsville, Mississippi, to Eli, a sharecropper, and Ophelia Ruffin. He was approaching his fifth birthday when his younger brother David was born. As children, the brothers began singing with a gospel group, the Dixie Nightingales.
In 1961, Jimmy Ruffin 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 Ruffin decided to resume his solo career and recorded for Motown's subsidiary Soul label, but with little success.
In 1966, Jimmy 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. The song reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the Rythm&Blues Chart. It also initially reached number eight in the UK singles chart, rising to number four when it was reissued in the UK in 1974. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" remains Jimmy Ruffin's best-known song. It was the lead single from his debut album Jimmy Ruffin Sings Top Ten (released as The Jimmy Ruffin Way in the UK), which was released on the Motown's Soul subsidiary label in 1967. Follow-up singles in America were successful, with "I've Passed This Way Before" and "Gonna Give Her All The Love I've Got" reaching the top of the US Charts in late 1966 and early 1967.
Jimmy Ruffin's second album, Ruff 'n' Ready, was released in 1969. It contained the song "Don't You Miss Me a Little Bit Baby", which made the lower parts of the Billboard Hot 100 and was a Top 30 hit on the Rythm&Blues Charts, peaking at number twenty-seven. As a solo artist, it would prove to be Jimmy Ruffin's last significant chart appearance in America for many years, and his very last significant charting record for Motown in the US. The song was also released as the B-Side to "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" when it was reissued in 1974.
As Jimmy Ruffin found success in the United States difficult to sustain, he 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 1970 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". His third solo album for the label, The Groove Governor, was released in 1970, and did not fare as well as his previous two albums.
Following the success of his initial hits, Jimmy Ruffin 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 for their 1967 debut album of the same name, "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".
Jimmy 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 number ten in the US and number seven in the UK, on the RSO label.
In the 1980s, Jimmy Ruffin moved to live in Great 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", produced to raise money for the families of striking miners affected by the UK miners' strike. This went under the name of The Council Collective and Jimmy Ruffin 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 Jimmy collaborated with the British pop group Heaven 17, singing "A Foolish Thing To Do" and "My Sensitivity" on a 12" EP record. He took part in recording for Ian Levine's Motown revival label, Motorcity Records, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He recorded duets with both Maxine Nightingale and Brenda Holloway. Later, Jimmy 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.
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