T-Boy Ross

Biography by

Arthur "T-Boy" Ross marched to his own drummer. The incessant work ethic so prevalent in his siblings was missing in T-Boy, who didn't like responsibilities, preferring to just wing or kick…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Arthur "T-Boy" Ross marched to his own drummer. The incessant work ethic so prevalent in his siblings was missing in T-Boy, who didn't like responsibilities, preferring to just wing or kick it. Born in 1949, T-Boy was the fifth of six children born to Fred and Ernestine Ross: superstar Diana Ross, Barbara Ross-Lee, Dean of Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, actress Rita Ross, Fred Earl Ross Jr., and Wilbert Alex Ross, bka Chico.

He was a familiar sight around the studios when five-year-older sister Diana was recording, and was already showing a penchant for lyrical poetry and singing. The ladies loved his green eyes and handsome features. But famous sister or not, Arthur was a renegade, with a multifaceted personality fueled by alcohol and drug abuse -- friend one minute, in your face the next. He hung in the fast lane and had many friends in the Russell Woods neighborhood where the Rosses moved upon leaving the Brewster Projects.

To put some miles between T-Boy and Detroit's mean streets, Diana got him a job as a songwriter in the early '70s with Motown, which had relocated to Los Angeles, and encouraged producer/songwriter Leon Ware to work with him. While not prolific, T-Boy's collaborations were quite successful; he was a lyricist who worked with others, including Ware and Joe Sample. He penned "I Wanna Be Where You Are," recorded by the Jackson 5, "I Want You" by Marvin Gaye, and "What Is a Heart Good For" by the Miracles with Ware. T-Boy, Ware, and Gaye created "After the Dance." Ware originally waxed the songs on the I Want You album, but Berry Gordy wanted Gaye on the tracks, so they were done again. When T-Boy gave Gaye some strong input at one of the sessions, he was dismissed from that and all future sessions.

After dissolving his association with Ware, T-Boy floated around until 1979 when he released a solo album, Changes, which took the place and reused the catalog number of an unissued Jermaine Jackson album. The smooth set consisted of songs mainly written by T-Boy, Joe Sample, and Billy Brown. Despite Sample's expertise, the album failed miserably. While living in L.A., T-Boy made frequent excursions to his old haunts in Detroit, staying in the Ross family home with sister Rita and hanging around with old street buddies. He lost interest in music in the early '80s after the failure of his solo project and lived off his songwriting royalties, distancing himself from siblings and close relatives.

It all ended tragically April 22, 1996, when T-Boy and Patricia Robinson, his wife of ten months, were found murdered in a basement of a home in Detroit's Oak Park area. An autopsy indicated that the bodies had been there for at least three weeks; the recently married couple didn't live in the house. Two were arrested but quickly released, and the double homicide remains unsolved. Diana wrote a letter while on tour in Japan that was read by her daughter Tracee at T-Boy's eulogy: "It breaks my heart. Why did you make the choices you made in your life? I cannot blame you for your imperfections, T-Boy. I do, however, blame this drug-infested world of today."