The news that Jimmy Ruffin has passed away has just reached my ears (obviously have not been paying close attention to the news the past few days!). Ruffin died on the 17th November in a Las Vegas Hospital, he was 78 years old and thus far details as to the cause of death have not been released.
Jimmy Ruffin was the elder brother of David Ruffin of The Temptations (who passed away in 1991 aged 50). In 1961 he joined the Motown Stable where he performed mainly on sessions but did release a number of singles on the subsidiary label Soul (but with little success). After a short spell of National Service Ruffin returned to Motown and was being lined up to join The Temptations after the departure of Elbridge Bryant, but the bosses at Motown heard his brother David sing and the rest they say is history! Jimmy continued to pursue a solo career hoping for that one big break.
The break came in 1966 with the song that he is best known for, 'What Becomes of the Broken Hearted'. Originally the song was going to go to The Spinners but Ruffin convinced the writers that he should be the one to record it. He did and ended up having a massive hit in the US (#7 Billboard Hot 100) and the UK (#8 though when it was reissued in 1974 it reached #4).
Ruffin continued to chart in the US but in the UK his singles were more of a success. He recorded a number of albums with 1967's 'The Jimmy Ruffin Way' peaking at #32 in the UK Album Charts. In the US his albums barely crept into the Top 200!
In the 1980's he lived in the UK and even recorded with Paul Weller and Heaven 17 (see links below).
'What Becomes of the Broken Hearted' will always be one of those songs I equate with being a kid and getting a crush on a girl but she doesn't even notice you! It was played at least three or four times a night at the local youth club (obviously there were a lot sad and lonely individuals present!).
Another of the great Soul Singers then passes the way of the earth. At least we have a great legacy of music he left behind to cheer us in these sad days.
More Jimmy Ruffin
Farewell is a Lonely Sound (1970)