Photo credits: Atlantic Records
The song “I’ll Be Around” is a musical recording by The Spinners, an American R&B vocal group that forged a historic path during the 1960s and 1970s. Thom Bell and Phil Hurtt wrote the song’s lyrics.
Bell is the song’s producer. The house band MFSB supplied the accompaniment at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios. The Spinners began recording the soon-to-be hit single “I’ll Be Around” at Sigma Sound on June 17, 1972, according to the Music History Calendar. Several weeks after the tune’s studio production was complete, it was already making a big splash on pop music charts in the U.S.
The song’s production gives it a smooth, mid-tempo vibe, with Norman Harris’ distinctive guitar riff (in octaves) in the foreground and female backing vocalists, MFSB horns and strings, and Larry Washington’s conga performance punctuating it. The song’s lead vocals are handled by Bobby Smith.
“I’ll Be Around” appeared on the group’s self-titled album for Atlantic Records in 1973, which was their debut release for the label. This was a turning point for The Spinners – one that would give them a fresh start – after previously being a nominal group in the prior 10 years of their career as a musical act on the Motown Records roster.
The Spinners’ Atlantic offering originally appeared as the B-side of the group’s debut Atlantic Records record, “How Could I Let You Get Away,” with “How Could I Let You Get Away” on the A-side. However, radio DJs quickly chose “I’ll Be Around,” resulting in Atlantic reversing the single and the song being an unanticipated smash.
It lasted five weeks at number one on the US R&B chart (the group’s first R&B chart) and hit number three on the US Pop chart in the fall of 1972. It was also The Spinners’ first recording to sell over one million physical records.
Bell and the singing group’s members experienced a series of hit song-making opportunities on Atlantic records after the success of “I’ll Be Around.”