Philippé Wynne

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Philippé Wynne
Philippé Wynne.jpg
Background information
Birth name Phillippe Walker
Also known as Soul Walker Wynne
Born (1941-04-03)April 3, 1941
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died July 14, 1984(1984-07-14) (aged 43)
Oakland, California, U.S.
Genres Soul, funk
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1968–1984
Labels Atlantic

Philippé Wynne (aka Philippe Escalante Wynn; Phillip Walker; 3 April 1941 Detroit – 14 July 1984 Oakland, California) was an American singer. Best known for his role as the lead singer of The Spinners (a role he shared with fellow group members Bobby Smith, and Henry Fambrough). Wynne scored notable hits such as "How Could I Let You Get Away", "The Rubberband Man", and "One of a Kind (Love Affair)". After leaving The Spinners, Wynne never regained the same success, although he featured in hits by other artists such as "(Not Just) Knee Deep" by Funkadelic. Wynne died of a heart attack while performing at a nightclub.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio,[1] Wynne began his musical career as a gospel singer. He soon switched to R&B and attained some measure of success, singing with Bootsy Collins's Pacemakers in 1968 and with James Brown's J.B.'s shortly thereafter. Wynne then spent time in Germany as the lead singer of the Afro Kings, a band from Liberia, before he replaced his cousin, G. C. Cameron, as one of the lead vocalists for The Spinners. He sang with the group until 1977, during which they achieved several successful albums and singles.

Wynne then launched a solo career with Alan Thicke as his manager.[2] His first album Starting All Over was released on the Cotillion label in 1977.[3] His fortunes turned upwards again when he joined George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic in 1979. He performed with them on several recordings, and was a featured vocalist on the Funkadelic single "(Not Just) Knee Deep" (a #1 hit on the Billboard R&B chart).[4] While associated with Parliament-Funkadelic, Wynne also appeared on the Bootsy Collins album Sweat Band. Wynne released the solo album Wynne Jammin' in 1980, and made a guest appearance on the song "Something Inside My Head" by Gene Dunlap, and in the song "Whip It" by the Treacherous Three. Wynne's final album was the self-titled Philippé Wynne, released by Sugar Hill Records in 1984.

On July 13, 1984, while performing at Ivey's nightclub in Oakland, California, Wynne suffered a heart attack and died the following morning.


Growing up

His parents, DeGree Walker and Annie (née Wynn) divorced in November 1947 in Cincinnati. Around 1952, Philippe and his three siblings — Annie Walker, who later became an opera singer, Michael Leon Walker, and Margaret Walker — were placed in the New Orphan Asylum for Colored Children (which closed in 1967), in the Avondale neighborhood of Cincinnati, on Van Buren Street. Their father, DeGree Walker, was granted custody after the divorce, tho', he worked as a contractor in construction and had to travel.[1] Their mother, Annie, had run off to Detroit with another man.[5][6]

Around 1956, Philippé and his brother, Michael, ran away from the orphanage, and headed, to Detroit, to find their mother. In Detroit, the two formed a gospel group called the Walker Singers, which lasted until Philippe adopted his mother's surname, Wynn (initially without an "e"), and moved on to the The Spinners as lead singer.[1][5]

Marriage and children

Wynne married Ava Leflor on February 1, 1973, in Las Vegas. They had two sons, Emmanuel Wynn (1973–2001) and Alvarez Escalante Wynn (1975–1999). Ava was from Compton, California, and the four of them moved back to California sometime after Philippé left The Spinners. After that, Philippe and Ava eventually divorced. Philippé's younger son, Alvarez, at age 24, was killed in 1999 from a drive-by shooting in Compton. Philippe's older son, Emmanuel, accidentally drowned the very next year while trying to save a man. He was living in Florida at the time. Emmanuel was posthumously given the Carnegie Medal for his heroism.[7]

More about family members

Annie Walker — a soprano who had studied voice with Ruth Beyer (née Kessler; 1906–1996) of Cincinnati, Robert Powell, and Helen Laird, the latter two of the University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music — became a frequent soloist with orchestras that included the Cincinnati Symphony and the National Symphony; in 1969, she moved to Germany to perform principal roles with the Deutsche Opera in Düsseldorf under a five-year contract.

Philippé's mother, Annie, before marrying DeGree Walker, had been married from August 16, 1932, to March 1942, to Henry Columbus Hamm (born 1904). Together they had four children, Henry Richard Hamm (1932–1987), Robert Hamm (born 1934), and Joanne Hamm (born 1936). Annie, earlier, with John Porter, had a daughter, Gloria Isabelle Porter (1927–2003).


  • Romanski, Patricia and Holly George-Warren (Editors). The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. New York, NY: Fireside, 2005.




  1. ^ a b c d "Former Spinner Remembers Roots," by Allen Howard, Cincinnati Enquirer, December 12, 1981 (retrieved August 18, 2016, via, fee required)
  2. ^ Elias, Jason. "Soul Retrospective: The Spinners". Soul Train. Retrieved 2014-10-26. 
  3. ^ Elias, Jason. "Soul Retrospective: The Spinners". Soul Train. Retrieved 2014-10-26. 
  4. ^ Elias, Jason. "Soul Retrospective: The Spinners". Soul Train. Retrieved 2014-10-26. 
  5. ^ a b "Cass Class," by Detroitblogger John, Detroit Metro Times, November 25, 2009 (retrieved August 18, 2016)
  6. ^ "Michael Walker, CD, Oh, Yes! — Presenting ... Michael Walker" (CD review and interview from the "Deep Soul" column), by Patrick Green, Sterling Williams, Billy Price, Soul Express Online, September 2006 (retrieved August 18, 2016)
  7. ^ "Act Of Heroism Wins Top Award; Emmanuel Wynn, Who Lost His Life Trying To Save Another, Was Given The Carnegie Medal," by Ludmilla Lelis, Orlando Sentinel, April 27, 2001 (retrieved August 18, 2016)
  8. ^ Discogs Philippé Wynne* – Starting All Over
  9. ^ Discogs Philippe Wynne – Wynne Jammin'
  10. ^ Discogs Philippe Wynne – Philippe Wynne

External links[edit]