How Philippé Wynne, the Voice of The Spinners, Died of a Heart Attack on Stage

Philippé Wynne was one of the most distinctive and brilliant vocalists of his era, best known for his role as a lead singer of The Spinners, a popular soul and funk group in the 1970s. He sang on several hit songs such as “How Could I Let You Get Away”, “The Rubberband Man”, and “One of a Kind (Love Affair)”. However, his life and career were cut short when he died of a heart attack while performing at a nightclub in Oakland, California, on July 14, 1984. This article will explore the cause of death of Philippé Wynne and the legacy he left behind.

Early Life and Career of Philippé Wynne

Philippé Wynne was born on April 3, 1941, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to DeGree Walker and Annie Wynn, who divorced when he was five years old. He and his three siblings were placed in the New Orphan Asylum for Colored Children in Cincinnati, as his father, the custodial parent, traveled frequently. He never got over the pain of being abandoned by his parents, especially his mother, who left them to be with another man in Detroit. In 1956, he and his brother Michael ran away from the orphanage and made their way to Detroit, where they looked for their mother. They formed a gospel group, The Walker Singers, but had little success. Philippé changed his surname to Wynne, adding an ‘e’ at the end, and switched from gospel to R&B. He joined The Pacesetters in 1968, a band led by Bootsy Collins, and then James Brown’s group The JB’s in 1970. He also spent some time in Germany as the lead singer of the Afro Kings, a band from Liberia.

The Spinners and the Peak of Fame

In 1971, Wynne joined The Spinners, a vocal group that had formed in a Detroit suburb in 1954. He replaced his cousin, G.C. Cameron, who had sung on their first hit, “It’s a Shame”, written by Stevie Wonder and Syreeta Wright. The group moved from Motown Records to Atlantic Records, where they worked with producer Thom Bell, who gave them a smooth and sophisticated sound. Wynne was one of the three lead singers of The Spinners, along with Bobby Smith and Henry Fambrough, and his expressive and soulful voice stood out on many songs. He also added some improvisational elements, such as scatting, ad-libs, and vocal effects. Some of the songs he sang on include “I’ll Be Around”, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”, “Mighty Love”, “Then Came You” (with Dionne Warwick), “Games People Play”, and “Sadie”. The Spinners became one of the most successful groups of the decade, earning several Grammy nominations and gold and platinum records.

Solo Career and Collaboration with Parliament-Funkadelic

Wynne left The Spinners in 1977, after he wanted the group’s name changed to Philippe Wynn and the Spinners, which was denied. He launched a solo career, with Alan Thicke as his manager, and formed his own publishing group and record label. However, he did not achieve the same level of success as he did with The Spinners. His first solo album, Starting All Over, was released on Cotillion Records in 1977, but had no hit singles. He was dropped from the label and began working with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic in 1979. He performed with them on several recordings, and was a featured vocalist on the Funkadelic single “(Not Just) Knee Deep”, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart. He also appeared on the Bootsy Collins album Sweat Band and the Treacherous Three song “Whip It”. He released his second solo album, Wynne Jammin’, in 1980 on Uncle Jam Records, a label fronted by Clinton and his manager Archie Ivy, but it was also not a major seller. He made a guest appearance on the song “Something Inside My Head” by Gene Dunlap in 1981.

The Tragic Death of Philippé Wynne

On July 13, 1984, Wynne was performing at Ivey’s, a nightclub in Oakland, California, when he collapsed on stage during the song “Sadie”. He was rushed to Providence Hospital, where he was pronounced dead of a heart attack. He was 43 years old. According to Sonny Buxton, a spokesman for Ivey’s, Wynne had complained of chest pains before the show, but insisted on going on stage. He also said that Wynne had a history of heart problems and had undergone a bypass surgery a few years earlier. Wynne’s death shocked and saddened his fans, friends, and fellow musicians, who paid tribute to him and his talent. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

The Legacy of Philippé Wynne

Philippé Wynne was one of the most influential and admired singers of his generation, who left a lasting mark on the music industry. His voice and style influenced many artists, such as Michael Jackson, Prince, R. Kelly, D’Angelo, and Maxwell. He was also sampled by many hip-hop and R&B artists, such as Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, and TLC. He was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2015, along with The Spinners. His songs and performances are still enjoyed and celebrated by millions of fans around the world, who remember him as the voice of The Spinners and a soul legend.

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