One of Motown Records' most memorable voices is gone, as balladeer Jimmy Ruffin died at a Las Vegas hospital late Monday. He was 78.
Ruffin's most enduring hit has to be 1966's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," with its majestic, stately rhythm and Ruffin's deeply soulful, sorrowful vocal. He followed up that Top 10 hit with "I've Passed This Way Before" in 1967. In 1980 he enjoyed a comeback hit with "Hold on to My Love."
Ruffin was born May 7, 1936 in Collinsville, Mississippi, the older brother of singer David Ruffin. The brothers made their way north, eventually settling in Detroit, where each (separately) ended up signing with Motown Records, Jimmy as a solo artist and David as one of the Temptations.
The Ruffin brothers collaborated on a 1970 album for Motown, "I Am My Brother's Keeper." David Ruffin died in 1991, at age 50.
Like many soul stars, Ruffin enjoyed much success in Europe, and he made his home in London in the '80s and '90s, before returning to the United States.
Motown founder Berry Gordy in a statement Wednesday called Ruffin ""a phenomenal singer."
"He was truly underrated because we were also fortunate to have his brother, David, as the lead singer of the Temptations, who got so much acclaim. Jimmy, as a solo artist, had 'What Becomes of the Broken Hearted,' one of the greatest songs put out by Motown and also one of my personal favorites," said Gordy. "He was a wonderful human being, quiet and unassuming, who touched many lives with his music, not just here in the States, but overseas as well…I extend my sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans."
Philicia Ruffin and Jimmy Lee Ruffin Jr., the late singer's children, confirmed their father's death Wednesday, and released a statement: "Jimmy Ruffin was a rare type of man who left his mark on the music industry. My family in its entirety is extremely upset over his death. He will truly be missed. We will treasure the many fond and wonderful memories we all have of him."
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
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