Jimmy Ruffin (born May 7, 1939) is an American soul singer, and elder brother of the late David Ruffin of The Temptations. He had several hit records between the 1960s and 1980s, the most successful being "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted."
Jimmy Ruffin was born in Collinsville, Mississippi, the son of a minister, and was approaching his second birthday when his brother David was born. As children, the brothers began singing with a gospel group, the Dixie Nightingales. In 1961, Jimmy became a singer as part of the Motown stable, mostly on sessions but also recording singles for its subsidiary Miracle label, but was then drafted for national service. After leaving the Army in 1964, he returned to Motown, where he turned down the opportunity to join the Temptations to replace Elbridge Bryant, and instead recommended his brother David for the job. Preferring to start a solo career, Jimmy Ruffin recorded for Motown's subsidiary Soul label, but with little initial success.
Read an interview with Jimmy Ruffin. In 1966, he heard a song about unrequited love written for The Spinners, and persuaded the writers that he should record it himself. His recording of "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" became a major success and made him a star. The song reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #6 on the R&B Chart, and also initially reached #10 in the UK singles chart, rising to #4 when it was reissued in the UK in 1974. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" remained Ruffin's best-known song. The intended follow-up, "East Side West Side", written by Ron Welser and Flamingos' member Terry "Buzzy" Johnson, was released only in Australia, due to an argument with Motown head Berry Gordy. Nevertheless, follow-ups in the US were successful, with "I've Passed This Way Before" and "Gonna Give Her All the Love I've Got" reaching the US charts in late 1966 and early 1967. Both songs were later recorded by brother David with the Temptations.
Jimmy Ruffin found success in the USA hard to sustain, and began to concentrate instead on the British market. In 1970, "Farewell Is A Lonely Sound", "I'll Say Forever My Love" and "It's Wonderful" each made the UK top ten, and he was voted the world's top singer in one British poll. He also teamed up with brother David to record the album I Am My Brother's Keeper, a modestly successful album for Motown that included a hit cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me." He then left Motown, and recorded unsuccessfully for the Polydor and Chess labels, before success returned in 1980. Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees produced his album Sunrise and the hit single "Hold On To My Love", which reached #10 in the US and #7 in the UK, on the RSO label.
In the 1980s Ruffin moved to live in Britain, where he continued to perform successfully. In 1986 he collaborated with the British pop group Heaven 17, singing "A Foolish Thing To Do" and "My Sensitivity" on a 12" EP record. He also recorded duets with both Maxine Nightingale and Brenda Holloway. Later, Ruffin hosted a radio show in the UK for a time, and became an anti-drug advocate following the death of his brother David in 1991.
Living in England, he continues to tour and perform.