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Detroit, Michigan was a fertile breeding ground for industry and the arts during its best days. The Domingos first got together in 1954 with charter members Billy Henderson, Henry Fambrough, Pervis Jackson, C. P. Spencer, and James Edwards. Edwards was the first to depart and smooth voiced Bobby Smith was recruited. Then Spencer left with George Dixon taking over and the group changed their name to The Spinners in 1961.
Their first single "That's What Girls Are Made For" on Harvey Fuqua's Tri-Phi Records went top 30 in the US and introduced the world to Bobby Smith who would be the voice on most of the Spinners recordings including this one. After a few more personnel changes, Tri-Phi got bought out by Berry Gordy and The Spinners became part of the Motown stable of artists. Excited as they were to be signed to such a prestigious label, it was not long before that enthusiasm dimmed along with their commercial appeal.
Motown responded by having the members act as tour personnel babysitters, drivers and administrative help, moving them to the VIP imprint, a third rate label. The Spinners had little success being with Motown and were more than ready to move on when their contract expired. GC Cameron, the voice on "It's A Shame" left the band and was replaced by Philippe Wynne in early 1972. On the word of Aretha Franklin they were signed to Atlantic and paired with producer Jimmy Roach who cut four sides with them. Those tracks were shelved once label president Henry Allen heard them and set about looking for another producer.
Enter Thom Bell, who Allen hired to work for Atlantic. Given a choice of any artist on the roster, he picked the Spinners as he had been a fan of their music since their first hit on Tri-Phi Records "That's What Girls Are For" in 1961. During the summer of 1972, Bell worked with the group on four sides, since Atlantic had already spent $20,000$ on the abandoned Jimmy Roach sessions and did not want to spend much more.
He composed a song written in three chords and took it to Sigma Studios, home of the Sound Of Philadelphia. Veteran musicians Bobby Eli, Ronnie Baker, Earl Young, Roland Chambers, Larry Washington and Vince Montana played on the track, with Don Renaldo directing the strings. The musicians mused at the simplicity of the song and set about jamming, taking all of forty minutes to record the music track.
Bell's writing partner lyricist Linda Creed, was in the process of setting up her wedding and unable to help with the lyrics, begged off. Thom scoured the Sigma offices to find a lyricist and then walked into Bunny Sigler's office to find Phil Hurtt who had gone to high school with Bell and was more than ready to write lyrics that would fit Bell's exacting standards. Overnight, Hurtt wrote the words that would create an R&B classic.
The Spinners went in and nailed the vocals on "I'll Be Around". Alas, it was relegated to the B side of "How Could I Let You Get Away" which was their official debut Atlantic single. DJs who played the record, flipped the single and found the hit in playing "I'll Be Around" and forgetting the other side. They were right as the tune took off in a big way and proved that DJ's were influencing the pop music landscape. The single hit the Hot 100 chart for the week ending September 16, 1972 at #74 and peaked at #3 but spent five weeks at #1 on the R&B charts, an auspicious start to a stellar third career for a supposedly third rate band.