William Weatherspoon

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William Henry Weatherspoon was half of Motown's songwriting and production team -- (James) Dean and Weatherspoon, who went solid gold via Jimmy Ruffin's recording of "What's Become of the Brokenhearted,"…
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William Henry Weatherspoon was half of Motown's songwriting and production team -- (James) Dean and Weatherspoon, who went solid gold via Jimmy Ruffin's recording of "What's Become of the Brokenhearted," co-written with arranger Paul Riser. Their songs were also recorded by Edwin Starr, the Monitors, the Marvelettes, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Marv Johnson, the Contours, and Dennis Edwards ("Which Way to My Baby,") which was unreleased until the '90s. They used the Originals as prominently on productions as the main artist, giving a unique distinction to their work. Despite the Jimmy Ruffin blockbuster, Motown regulated them to second tier groups with little chance of becoming major because of miniscule promotion budgets. Their songs often credited a third writer (i.e. Stanley Mullen, Stephen Bowden, William Stevenson, or Jack Goga), but the productions were solely Dean and Weatherspoon.

Weatherspoon was an old pro when he signed with Motown and fit right in with Berry Gordy's system of having experienced singers and writers working as producers and trainers of the company's younger inexperienced artists. He began singing with the Tornados in 1956, a group formed by Charles Sutton after the Midnighters refused to let him return after an illness. They recorded unsuccessfully for Chess and Robert West's Bumble Bee Records, where they released Weatherspoon's "Geni in the Jug." They called it quits around 1960 and Weatherspoon worked as a songwriter and producer for Detroit's Correc-tone Records, (where the Primettes [future Supremes] often contributed backing vocals to sessions). He contributed to the Pace Setters' 1963 recording "The Monkey Whip" b/w "Around the World" and others that went nowhere.

Inking with Motown and befriending James Dean was a career shaper for Weatherspoon; the duo became the creative force behind Jimmy Ruffin ("I'll Say Forever My Love"/"I've Passed This Way Before") and cranked out tunes for a laundry list of Motown artists including Edwin Starr ("I Am the Man for You Baby"), Marv Johnson ("I'll Pick a Rose for My Rose"), the Contours ("It's So Hard Being a Loser"), and the Monitors ("Bring Back the Love"/"Step By Step (Hand in Hand").

When Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Brian Holland defected from Motown with lawsuits pending, Weatherspoon joined them and signed with their Invictus/Hot Wax/Music Merchant setup. Though he never experienced anything the magnitude of "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," he scored some significant hits, mainly because he worked with some of their top artists. Ironically, Dean, a relative of the Holland's, went in another direction and rolled with Don Davis, with whom he hit significantly, mainly with new collaborator Henry Glover, for the Dells, the Dramatics, Johnnie Taylor, Billy Davis & Marilyn McCoo ("You Don't Have to Be a Star"), the Soul Children, and others.

Weatherspoon kept busy writing by himself and with Angelo Bond, chalking hits for Laura Lee ("Rip Off," "Women Love Rights," and "Love and Liberty") and the Flaming Embers ("I'm Not My Brother's Keeper" and "Sunshine"). But Dean clearly made the best choice by going with Davis.

When HDH closed shop, Weatherspoon returned to Motown along with Bond, they wrote "Go for It" and "Struck By Lightening Twice" for the Temptations and songs for the label's newer artists like Hi Inergy, but Weatherspoon never had another big one and devotes himself to the gospel music he produces and publishes through his company -- God Touch Publishing.