Posted by purplemary54 on November 19, 2014
Another one of the great soul voices has been silenced. Singer Jimmy Ruffin passed away on Monday in Las Vegas; he was 78.
Ruffin was the older brother of late Temptations’ singer David Ruffin, and collaborated with his brother on the 1970 album I Am My Brother’s Keeper (which must have been quite the vocal showcase). His biggest hit, “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” is one of those great songs that transcends style and genre. I’ve known that song all my life, known how good it was, but never really thought much about the artist that made it. I’m not even sure I knew it was Jimmy Ruffin’s song until the news of his death today. I just knew that song.
I think that kind of universality is a sign of the artist’s talent. Something that could’ve been pigeonholed or labeled became ubiquitous instead. It became something that could be played on virtually any radio station, in the background of any movie, in the soundtrack of anyone’s life. It wasn’t a cookie cutter song by any means; I can’t imagine any other voice singing this wonderful song. But the emotion behind it could be anyone’s. Ruffin took a song that obviously meant something to him, and made it meaningful to everyone else. That’s the best kind of art there is.