Jimmy Ruffin was born in Collinsville, Mississippi in May 1936. He sang with his family’s gospel group, led by his minister father, before moving to Detroit to work for Ford.
In 1961 he cut Don’t Feel Sorry For Me for Motown subsidiary, Miracle, and went on tour with the Motown Revue, before serving in the US Army for three years.
In 1964, Jimmy returned to Motown and issued Since I’ve Lost You and As Long As There Is L-O-V-E Love and quickly found his niche in the conveyor-belt competitiveness of the Motown hit factory, where it was not uncommon for a number of artists to record the same song, with the hottest star of the hour bagging the release.
Ruffin’s forte didn’t lie with frenetic dance tracks but with well-crafted ‘lost love’ hits of the calibre of I’ve Passed This Way Before, It’s Wonderful and What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?
The latter hit allowed Ruffin to quit the assembly lines and move to London, where he enjoyed 10 more UK hits.
The Ruffin Brothers issued I Am My Brother’s Keeper in 1970, and Jimmy hit for Chess with the self-penned Tell Me What You Want in 1974.
Hold On (To My Love) from the Robin Gibb-produced Sunrise was another transatlantic Top 10 in 1980, and Jimmy’s collaborations thereafter included Soul Deep by Paul Weller‘s The Council Collective (1984), Heaven 17‘s The Foolish Thing To Do and My Sensitivity (1986) and duets with Maxine Nightingale, Brenda Holloway and Ruby Turner.
He presented Jimmy Ruffin’s Sweet Soul Music on Radio 2 in 1999 and issued There Will Never Be Another You in 2012.
Ruffin passed away in Las Vegas on 17 November 2014. He was 78.