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A tribute to PERVIS JACKSON and … Introducing JESSIE PECK

NOTE: The Spinners Story in Soul Express printed magazines in 2002-2003

The original five printed magazines still available at 20 euros including P&P

By Heikki Suosalo

(L to R): Henry, Bobbie, Spike, Charlton, Jessie.

  Let’s go back 55 years to the very beginning.  The group, which first went under the name of the Domingoes, was formed in 1954 in Ferndale, Michigan, which is located next to Detroit, on the northern side of the bordering 8 Mile Road.  Pervis Jackson: “We all grew up in the same neighbourhood and we all went to school together.  Whether or not we had been together as a group, we would have seen each other everyday anyway by us all living in a small community.”

  Henry Fambrough: “On one side of Wyoming Avenue there is the Royal Oak Township, and on the other side of Wyoming there is Ferndale.  During the summer all the guys in the neighbourhood used to meet at the basketball court on Grant’s playground.  One afternoon, while playing, the guys standing around started singing – Crathman (C.P.) Spencer, myself, Pervis Jackson, Billy Henderson and another guy by the name of James Edwards.  We just started singing.  We left there and went over to Chico Edwards’ house.  Chico is James’ brother.  We started harmonizing there and that’s how the group started.  James didn’t want to stay in the group for more than a couple of weeks.  He just got tired and left, and that’s how we became the four guys of Crathman Spencer, myself, Billy Henderson and Pervis Jackson.”

  Billy Henderson: “We were at amateur shows and stuff like that.  We were kids.  We were getting our repertoire together.  We all kinda led in those days, but C.P. Spencer was our main lead.”

  Bobbie Smith joined the group as the new fifth member in 1956.  Bobbie: “I loved music and cars.  I became a car collector, also.  I had seventeen classic cars, when I lived in Michigan (until 1985).  When I was in high school back in the 50s, kids would take those old cars – most of them were ’49 Mercurys – and they would turn them into hot rods and they had some Cadillac hub caps and they called them ‘spinners’.”  After voting, the group was renamed the Spinners after Bobbie’s suggestion. 

  A couple of years later C.P. left the group.  Crathman: “The Spinners opened the show for the Five Jets, and we did a terrific job.  We were determined to be the best that day, and we got a standing ovation.  Then a member of the Five Jets contacted me and asked if I would like to join the group, because they had a member that was leaving.  Economically I thought about it.  Back then my father was no longer with us and my mother needed the help, so I decided to take the job.  I was simultaneously in the Spinners and the Five Jets for about three or four weeks.”

  The remaining four asked Chico Edwards to join the group and replace C.P, and he did but then left for the first time in 1960 and was replaced by George Dixon.  Billy: “When we got ready to record, Chico had a pretty decent job and he didn’t want to go.  That’s when I went and got George to take his place, and we went on to do our engagements.” 

  George is on lead on the group’s sixth single, She Don’t Love Me on Tri-Phi in 1962, but it was also his swan song.  George: “I went into a ministry, Church of God.  I’ve been in the ministry ever since and haven’t been involved in music.”  Chico Edwards came back and replaced George, but left for good in 1967, went to a roofing company and was replaced by George Curtis Cameron.  Chico: “It was great to work with them, but then money got funny.”  Henry: “He was married with kids, and when we weren’t recording he couldn’t support the family like he had to.”

  I reprinted those extracts above from my five-part Spinners story, which first appeared in our printed magazines in 2002 and 2003, partly because there’s been a lot of misinformation about the early history of the group and different line-ups.  If you want to read the whole story – 50 pages of densely printed text – you can purchase it at


  Another reason for going back is to remind you that today Bobbie Smith and Henry Fambrough remain the only members left from the 50s Domingoes.  Unfortunately, their bass singer, Pervis Jackson, passed on August 18 in 2008 in Detroit, Michigan.  Pervis Angelo was born in Monroe, Louisiana, either on May 16, or May 17 in 1938.  Claudreen Jackson, his wife: “his first birth certificate says the 16th, but he always said the 17th, which gave him an excuse to celebrate for two days.”

  Pervis: “I moved to Ferndale, when I was seven years old, and (in music) basically I liked the groups.  My favourites were the Moonglows and the Clovers.”  Pervis is survived by his wife of 42 years, Claudreen, his sons – Herb “Shawn” and Pervis Jr. – and daughters, Stephanie Briscoe-Jackson and Cindy Holmes-Jackson.  He also had two brothers, one sister and nine grandchildren.  At the funeral the pallbearers were Mike Brown, David Brandon, Roy Monroe, George Barnes, Joe Henderson and Sean Tatum.  The four group members at the time and a long-standing ex-member, John Edwards, were honorary pallbearers.

  Claudreen (on November 12, 2008): “It happened so suddenly.  We didn’t know.  He worked July 19th, and July 20th was their next engagement and he said ‘well, I don’t feel like going’ and I thought that something is wrong, because he always makes the engagements.  It was just downhill after that, and by August 18th he was gone.”

  “He had medical situations, and I’d been going with him to the doctor and I’d been making sure that he took his medicine.  I knew that he had some problems, because he lost his appetite and I kept trying to get him to eat, and he wouldn’t eat.  I joked ‘is it my cooking, I’ll go to the restaurant and buy you some food’.  It was starting the end of July.  Last days we were spending all of our time at the hospital.  My daughter was even staying there with him at night.  We just couldn’t believe he wasn’t going to get well.  Until the end I was holding out hope.”

  Bobbie Smith (on November 21, 2008): “We knew that he was different.  His short-time memory had started to get bad.  Long-time memory was great.  He kept losing weight.  We knew there was something wrong, but we didn’t know what it was.  We didn’t know it was that serious.  Doctors diagnosed something about his heart and they gave him some pills, and he seemed to be okay, but he was totally different.  He didn’t suffer and he worked right to the end.  When he went into the hospital, he missed maybe about two engagements.  He went into the hospital, and after two or three days he was gone.  He had a cancer.  He had a tumour on his brain, and that spread over his body.  We thought that was dementia, but I’m sure it was the tumour.  He didn’t suffer, and that’s one good thing.”

  Claudreen: “He was extremely humorous.  He was always entertaining, even until the end… even in the hospital.  When we were separated for a few years, he used to say ‘I’m working my way back to you’.  He had quit doing choreography on stage.  He was getting wheelchair at the airport, but he was still driving himself to the airport.  I saw the group in December 2007 in Hawaii, and other than choreography he did a great show.  So it gives me so much more respect for him, because I realize how hard he must have pushed himself this past year.”

  Bobbie: “He’s a beautiful person, and I knew Pervis was my friend.  Pervis would give you a shirt off his back.  He was a die-hard Spinner and a die-hard Detroit.  Those were the two things he loved.  I really miss him bad.  Sometimes it’s like it’s not true.”

  Claudreen: “Pervis was an extraordinary person.  He enjoyed his life.  He was only 70 years old, but I would say he lived a hundred years in those seventy, because he did things his way.  That’s why I put the song, the poem My Way, in the obituary.”


  One of Pervis’ daughters, Stephanie, is also a singer.  Claudreen: “She appears sometimes, but no big production… just small local places.  The reason Stephanie isn’t doing that many vocals is that there aren’t that many places that are hiring vocalists.  Economy is down.”

  “Pervis Junior has autism.  He’s handicapped.  He’s 33 years old.  He can’t read, he can’t write, he can’t talk and I have written a book about him, Inspired by Autism, and it’s coming out in April.  In this country April is the national autism and awareness month.  In the book I say I’ve been exhausted, depressed and frustrated, sad and crying and devastated by autism, and I thought I’d never get to the point, where I would say ‘I’m inspired by autism’, but it inspired me to write a book.  Pervis was totally supportive, totally encouraging, and he gave me a lot of good pointers… and did not live to see the finished product.  The book was in the works way before he passed.  Other than the book, I’m helping with the parents group of people with autism.  There’s an agency here that helps parents of children with autism.”

  After Pervis, the group worked for over six months without its fifth member.  Bobbie: “We’ve been working with the four, and when you bring in a new member it ain’t that simple.  You got to go find new uniforms, you got to teach him the songs, the choreography, everything…  It ain’t that simple.  You have to new photos, too.”

  “Our manager thinks we should have five, because the Spinners is known as a 5-man group.  But as far as the performance and audience, it doesn’t seem to matter.”  On stage Spike DeLeon has sung some of those bass parts, too.  “Spike has a pretty flexible voice.  If you’ve heard that high note on Funny, he hits that, and he can go down to ’12:45’ (on They Just Can’t Stop It, Games People Play).  And he’s doing it to the point, where the audience is responsive to it.”

  Spike’s name is actually Harold Bonhart, and you can read his interview at  “He considers Spike DeLeon his stage name – like Philippe Wynne.  He used to be Phil ‘Soul’ Walker, then he was Phil Wynn, and when he got with the Spinners he became Philippé.”  Spike replaced Billy Henderson in 2004.  The fourth member of the group today is Charlton Washington, who replaced Frank Washington in 2007, and you can read about his earlier career at

  Bobbie: “We’re still planning to record.  We have some stuff that we’ve already recorded, but we still want to record some more stuff.  Things have changed and we don’t feel like we want to depend on a record company.  They’re struggling too, because people can download that stuff.  If we get a record deal and it’s right, that’s cool, but we figured we can promote our material ourselves, put it on the internet and bypass the record company.”

  “When you’ve become a group like the Spinners, and even if a big record company signs you up and you put out a CD, they don’t really promote it.  They put it out there and see if it works.  If it doesn’t, they write it off.  So that isn’t an important thing for us anymore.  We’re going to record some new music, but we’re not probably going to be shopping for a new label.  You can do it yourself now.  One thing that I regret is that we never really did a Christmas album.  That’s one thing we got on the backburner.”

(L-R) Henry, Spike, Jessie, Bobbie, Chuck


  This month a new bass singer for the Spinners took his place on stage.  Jessie Robert Peck was born in Queens, New York, on December 17, 1968.  Jessie (interviews on February 6 and 19): “I believe I was at the age of two, when my family moved to Detroit.  My earliest influences that I had would be my family.  There was nothing playing in my house but the old Motown sound.  There was no getting away from it.  I remember on weekends after getting paid my dad would always come home with a forty-five, sometimes even an entire album.  My favourites were the Spinners, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, James Brown… the whole era.  Ironically, one of the very first concerts I ever saw in my life was the Spinners.”

  “Now I don’t hear anything like the music you heard on the radio and one stage, when I was young.  Nowadays a musician is someone, who can create melodies and harmonies by even the most simple means.  I play trumpet.  In high school I played in a marching band and in jazz bands.  It helps to increase the appreciation for what you hear behind, on the background on a record.”

  Already as a child Jessie became a member of Essex Productions, when he worked as a model.  “I was a kid then.  I don’t remember very much about those days other than frequent rehearsals, having my parents at every show and one great skating party for all us kids one year.”

  “I took interest in acting at the age of 14.  I auditioned for and landed the lead male role in Evita.  I began training as a member of La Troupe Des Arts, under the direction of Mrs. Susan Storey.  In 2008 I performed in two plays, Gone Too Soon and Soulfood Scrooge.”  Jessie was also a member of a dance group called Tony Talley & the Beat It Crew during the 10th and 11th grades.  “We opened up for Millie Jackson, the Manhattans, the O’Jays, the Dramatics, Enchantment and others.  We were paid for a lot of those shows, but it wasn’t much.”

  Jessie’s hobbies today include martial arts, motorcycles, karaoke and poetry.  On the singing front, however – in spite of entering talent shows already in his formative years - he started practising it more seriously when turning twenty.  “It was not professionally, but I did sing for a short while in 1987 and 1988 with a group called Random X with my buddies from high school.  Lorenzo Braceful, an excellent drummer, recruited me.  We were a 5-piece band.  We were pretty much a garage band.  We never did professional shows, but we practised a lot.  We did it more or less as a hobby.”

  The first official singing group Jessie was a member of was called Unique.  “We formed in 1994 and we were together for five years.  We travelled a bit.  We played Apollo in New York, the Montel Williams Show (Motown Review), Cobo Hall, Masonic Temple and the Palace of Auburn Hills.  Actually the first CD I did was with Unique and titled It Feels So Good in 1995.  It was on a local label out of Flint, Michigan, called Rising Sun Records.  The music was touching at that time.  Inner turmoil between the group, management and the label brought the project to a halt.  What a shame!  The music should always come first.  I haven’t recorded anything since that.”

  Jessie is a 1988 Graduate of the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts 4.0 GPA, and he made a career of working in radio, television and commercials.  “In radio I was an evening ‘Pillow Talk’ announcer, a production director – I produced commercials – and a program director, station imaging.  In television I hosted ‘Flint after Dark’ weekly music video show, which featured famous recording artist interviews and local entertainment events.  I do also voice-overs, voicing commercials for radio and tv.  Radio has drastically changed.  They’re all downsizing to just one local announcer, if that, and syndicating all other day-parts - the corporatisation of radio.  On-air gigs were becoming increasingly harder to find.”

  Jessie’s almost daily rehearsals with the group started in December.  “I heard from Henry Williams, a good friend, about an opening with the Spinners.  He knew Roquel (Payton) of the Four Tops.  I contacted Mr. Nat Burgess (the Spinners management) via email and he forwarded my interest to the Spinners.  Even before the audition I wanted to be prepared.  Even before I was in the group, I was rehearsing.”

  “When I first heard Pervis had passed, it was very sad for me.  I had always recognized him for his wonderfully rich tones and his importance to the group as the bassman.  As I met more and more of his former acquaintances, and even his family, I realized how deeply he touched others.  Many were wonderfully impacted by his existence.  I wish I could have known Mr. Jackson.”

  “Now I’m happy to be a member of the group, because it is my dream-come-true, my dream once long deferred.  Singing and harmonizing are my first love.  The stage is where I most feel at home, and I now share this experience with the best group of all time.  I am so very happy and greatful to be a part of the legacy that is the Spinners.”

  Jessie’s first performance with the group took place on February 11.  “It was awesome.  The show was wonderful.  I look to my right – there is a Spinner on my right.  I look to the left – there’s a Spinner on the left.  I was in the middle.  I was dancing and singing with the guys.  I had the time of my life.”

Heikki Suosalo

We would like to remind everyone who is interested in the career of the Spinners that the complete 5-part story of the Spinners is still available at only 20.00 euros, which is about 25 US dollars (including the postage!).

You can order your copies of the original printed magazines from our online CD shop, using Visa or Master credit cards or PayPal. See on the page the one-click special offer of "The Spinners Story: 5 Soul Express Magazines", priced 20.00 euros.

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