R.I.P. Philly soul giant, "Mighty Love" writer Bruce Hawes

(February 17, 2021) In the galaxy of those who helped establish the Golden Age of Soul Music, one of the brightest but most unheralded stars was songwriter and keyboardist supreme, Bruce Hawes, who helped shape the Sound of Philadelphia that dominated the 70s and early 80s. We are sad today to report the death of Mr. Hawes at age 67.

The Philadelphia born Hawes was the son of Gospel-performing parents, and grew up singing in the Church. While deciding on whether to take his talents to religious or secular music, a song he wrote, “I Could Never (Repay Your Love),” was chosen by superproducer Thom Bell in 1972 for inclusion on the Spinners monster self-titled album. And thus his decision was made.

This began a two decade relationship with Bell, and particularly with songwriting partners Joseph Jefferson and Charles Simmons. Bell hired the trio and “assigned” them to The Spinners as the group’s lead songwriting team.

(February 17, 2021) In the galaxy of those who helped establish the Golden Age of Soul Music, one of the brightest but most unheralded stars was songwriter and keyboardist supreme, Bruce Hawes, who helped shape the Sound of Philadelphia that dominated the 70s and early 80s. We are sad today to report the death of Mr. Hawes at age 67.

The Philadelphia born Hawes was the son of Gospel-performing parents, and grew up singing in the Church. While deciding on whether to take his talents to religious or secular music, a song he wrote, “I Could Never (Repay Your Love),” was chosen by superproducer Thom Bell in 1972 for inclusion on the Spinners monster self-titled album. And thus his decision was made.

This began a two decade relationship with Bell, and particularly with songwriting partners Joseph Jefferson and Charles Simmons. Bell hired the trio and “assigned” them to The Spinners as the group’s lead songwriting team.

The results are now legendary, including #1 hits "Mighty Love," "One of a Kind (Love Affair)," and "(They Just Can't Stop It) Games People Play." The team also delivered the smash Spinners/Dionne Warwick song “Then Came You,” the concert favorite, “Sadie,” the group’s classic ballad, “I Don’t Want To Lose You,” and most of the cuts on their Mighty Love, New and Improved and Pick of the Litter albums. They also collaborated on other Bell productions for The Temptations, Major Harris, and Dionne Warwick, among others.

Over the years, Hawes also wrote for Blue Magic, Loleatta Holloway, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The Three Degrees, Melba Moore, The Whispers, Phyllis Hyman and many others, and had his music sampled by several hip-hop artists.

Hawes remained active through 2020, writing and recording with rising artists while occasionally issuing his own music releases. He also wrote a 2013 memoir entitled Growing Up In the Sound of Philadelphia (From The Inside Out).

Bruce Hawes was never a household name, but his music fueled more than one generation of soul music lovers. He will be terribly missed, even as we marvel at his incredible life’s work. Rest in peace, Bruce.

By Chris Rizik

 
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