What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

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"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
Single by Jimmy Ruffin
from the album Jimmy Ruffin Sings Top Ten
A-side "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
B-side "Baby, I've Got It"
Released June 3, 1966
Format 7" single
Recorded Hitsville USA (Studio A); 1966
Genre Soul
Length 3:00
Label Soul
S 35022
Writer(s) William Weatherspoon
Paul Riser
James Dean
Producer(s) William Weatherspoon
William "Mickey" Stevenson
Jimmy Ruffin singles chronology
"As Long As There Is L-O-V-E"
"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
"I've Passed This Way Before"

"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" is a hit single recorded by Jimmy Ruffin and released on Motown Records' Soul label in the summer of 1966. It is a ballad, with lead singer Jimmy Ruffin recalling the pain that befalls the brokenhearted, who had love that's now departed. The song essentially deals with the struggle to overcome sadness while seeking a new relationship after the passing of a loved one.

The tune was written by William Weatherspoon, Paul Riser, and James Dean, and the recording was produced by Weatherspoon and William "Mickey" Stevenson. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" was Jimmy Ruffin's only Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and remains one of the most-revived of Motown's hits.

Composers Weatherspoon and Riser and lyricist Dean had originally written "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" with the intention of having The Spinners, then an act on Motown's V.I.P. label, record the tune. Jimmy Ruffin, older brother of Temptations lead singer David Ruffin, persuaded Dean to let him record the song, as its anguished lyric about a man lost in the misery of heartbreak resonated with the singer.

Ruffin's lead vocal on the recording is augmented by the instrumentation of Motown's in-house studio band, The Funk Brothers, and the joint backing vocals of Motown session singers The Originals and The Andantes. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, and at number six on the Billboard R&B Singles chart. In Britain, it originally reached No. 8, and on reissue in 1974 No. 4, thus making it his highest-placed chart single in the UK.

The song originally featured a spoken introduction by Ruffin, similar in style to many Lou Rawls's performances of the same time. The spoken verse was removed from the final mix, hence the unusually long instrumental intro on the released version. The spoken verse is present on the alternate mix from the UK 2003 release Jimmy Ruffin - The Ultimate Motown Collection, and as a new stereo extended mix on the 2005 anthology, The Motown Box:

A world filled with love is a wonderful sight.
Being in love is one's heart's delight.
But that look of love isn't on my face.
That enchanted feeling has been replaced.



Other appearances[edit]

At the end of the final episode of the British sitcom Drop the Dead Donkey the song is heard playing over a montage of clips showing the subsequent fates of the main characters.

The song is played on a jukebox at the end of the television series JAG episode "Chains of Command" (Season 3 Episode 16).

The song is played on Lloyd Mullaney CD player on Coronation Street 21 November 2011.

The song is performed in and used as the title of an episode of the soap opera General Hospital: Night Shift sung by Billy Dee Williams, whose character Toussaint DuBois performs the song with his fictional band, The Saints.


  1. ^ "Ruby Turner - What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted / Still Waters Run Deep (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 264. 
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 599–600. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  • Ritz, David (1992). "Jimmy Ruffin". Liner notes from Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection: 1959 - 1971. Motown Record Company, L.P./PolyGram.
Preceded by
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" by George Michael with Elton John
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single (Paul Young version)
February 22, 1992 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Missing You Now" by Michael Bolton featuring Kenny G.
Preceded by
"Say You'll Be There" by Spice Girls
UK number-one single (Robson & Jerome version)
("What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" / "Saturday Night at the Movies" / "You'll Never Walk Alone")

November 3, 1996 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Breathe" by The Prodigy