Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pervis Jackson (1938-2008), RIP

Pervis Jackson of the Spinners dies

Baritone, 70, recorded for Motown and Atlantic Records; services Monday in Detroit


For nearly five decades, Pervis Jackson's rich, low voice was the glue in the Spinners' sound, an unmistakable feature on pop, R&B and eventually oldies radio.

Friends and fellow Motown Records musicians are mourning the loss of the Detroit singer, who died "quietly and peacefully" early Monday at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit, said Claudreen Jackson, his wife of 40 years. He had been diagnosed late last week with brain and liver cancer, just a month after starting to feel ill and bowing out of several Spinners dates. He was 70.

"I don't know how many people get to live their lives the way they want," said Claudreen Jackson, "but he was one of them."

His last onstage appearance was July 19, when the Spinners performed in La Habra, Calif. The group has been a fixture on the casino and festival circuit for years, typically on the road more than 200 days annually.

Surviving him in the group are fellow original members Henry Fambrough and Bobbie Smith. Founding member Billy Henderson died in February 2007.

It's the second loss this year in the Spinners' extended family: Longtime manager Buddy Allen died at his New York home in March. His son, Steve Allen, worked as the group's road manager for several years.

"Pervis was the classiest, nicest, most perfect gentleman," Steve Allen said. "He never let the fame and the glory years go to his head."

Known to friends and associates as "Mr. 12:45" -- a nod to his trademark lyric in the hit "They Just Can't Stop It (Games People Play)" -- Jackson was heralded as a consummate professional, making time to mingle with fans and serving as the group's de facto spokesman.

"He always said: 'When the people come to see you, they've done their part. It's up to you to keep them,' " said Claudreen Jackson.

One of the greatest R&B groups ever. Thank you, gentlemen.