To many Jimmy Ruffin is best known as the older brother of former Temptations lead singer David Ruffin , the position he turned down himself in choice of a solo career. Jimmy Ruffin had a solid career of his own scoring his biggest hit with, ''What Becomes Of A Broken Hearted'', which was first recorded by The Isley Brothers under the tile of, ''Smile'' then rewritten and offered to the Detroit Spinners whom rejected the song.
Jimmy Ruffin's version became a UK Hit twice, once in the 60's and then an even bigger hit on re-release in 1974 where it climbed to #4. Ruffin followed the American charted 1960 hit "Brokenhearted" with two more major 1967 UK / US hits, "I've Passed This Way Before" and "Gonna Give Her All the Love I Got", which were also covered by David and the Temptations. A year later Jimmy Ruffin again cracked both the US & UK charts, with the hit single, ."I'll Say Forever My Love'' reaching as high as #7 in the UK. The US hits dried up. but in the UK further hits followed, "Farewell is a Lonely Sound" & "It's Wonderful (To Be Loved By You)" . 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, a cover of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" & The Hollies, ''He Ain't Heavy He's my Brother''. Versions of some of his recording were later being covered by other Motown artists, most prominently "Everybody Needs Love," a hit when released by Gladys Knight & The Pips, & "Maria (You Were The Only One)", a hit for Michael Jackson. He then left Motown, and signed with the Polydor/Chess record label where he recorded the UK top 40 US R&B/ Soul hit, "Tell Me What You Want".
He surprised the music world when he re-emerged in 1980 with an unlikely top 10 worldwide pop hit, "Hold On To My Love" on RSO Records,plus the accompanying album, Sunrise, which was writer/producer by Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees. In the 80s, Ruffin moved to live in Britain, where he continued to perform successfully, he collaborated with Paul Weller of The Style Council for his benefit single "Soul Deep" in 1984.
When Jimmy Ruffin passed away earlier this week, it reminded us of some of his lesser known work. “The Foolish Thing To Do” was released in 1986 as the A side of Jimmy's release with Heaven 17, but tucked away on the B Side of the 7 and 12 inch only release was Jimmy's version of the Luther Vandross classic “My Sensitivity.” The act, Heaven 17, also known as B.E.F. for their production work, brought Tina Turner back to the public eye with their version of The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion” in 1982, after which Tina signed to Capitol Records and, with B.E.F.’s production help, scored the worldwide hit with her cover of Al Green’s ''Lets Stay Together '' which served as her hit comeback single in late 1983; from that moment she never looked back. If only the same success had been brought to Jimmy Ruffin he also no doubt would have carried on recording hits and gotten the recognition he deserved. Read more here from Soultracks
. I was luck to have met Jimmy Ruffin in 1985 when he was on a club tour for EMI Records to promote his UK top 75 hit, "There Will Never Be Another You" which was coupled with his version of, The O'Jays ''Backstabbers (strangely Tina Turner also covered when she was on U/A records). In the 90's Jimmy Ruffin hosted a Radio show on BBC Radio two. It was reported that Jimmy was gravely ill and had been taken into an intensive care unit at a Las Vegas hospital. Jimmy Ruffin died on November 17, 2014, in Las Vegas, aged 78. He will be missed - R.I.P Jimmy Ruffin.
STATEMENT ON PASSING OF JIMMY RUFFIN by Berry Gordy.
Jimmy Ruffin was a phenomenal singer. 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 Broken Hearted," one of the greatest songs put out by Motown and also one of my personal favorites. He was a wonderful human being, quiet and unassuming, who touched many lives with his music, not just here in the states, but overseas, as well.
Jimmy Ruffin will always be a part of the Motown legacy, and I extend my sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans.
Berry Gordy, Founder
November 19, 2014