Mississippi Writers and Musicians

Jimmy Ruffin Jimmy Ruffin

Major Works

  • Sings Top Ten (1966)
  • Sunrise (1980)
  • I Am My Brother's Keeper (1970) with brother David


Jimmy Ruffin: A Biography
By Kefauver Inge (SHS)

Jimmy Ruffin is the older brother of David Ruffin. They are two brothers from Mississippi who are famous as singers in one of the most famous groups in the world, The Temptations. In fact, David Ruffin became the lead singer for this pop rock group early in his career. David Ruffin later died from a drug overdose, but Jimmy Ruffin continues to sing.  Jimmy Ruffin, who was the oldest, was born in Collinsville, Mississippi,  on May 7, 1939. As kids, David and Jimmy began their career with a gospel group called the Dixie Nightingales.  David and Jimmy Ruffin began their career signing with Anna Records.Kefauver Inge, SHS researcher (Contemporary Musicians Volume Two. 202-203).  In 1964, the two brothers joined The Temptations with David Ruffin alternating as the lead vocalist. (Contemporary Musicians Volume Two. 202-203). The Temptations released their first single with Motown in the recording studio after they changed their name from the Primes. (Jimmy Ruffin. com/history/timeline/1960).

Jimmy Ruffin, the older brother of the Temptations' lead singer David Ruffin, enjoyed several huge hits  himself in the mid-'60s for Berry Gordy's Soul label. Ruffin first signed with another Motown  subsidiary, the short-lived Miracle, in 1961, but it was his convincing vocal on "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" that made him a star in 1966. He encored with "I've Passed This Way Before"  and "Gonna Give Her All the Love I've Got.," In 1970 he briefly teamed with David (by then David was singing solo and was no longer a Temptation)  as the Ruffin Brothers and cut a duet remake of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me." He staged an  impressive comeback in 1980 on RSO Records with a major pop hit, "Hold On to My Love," that was produced by Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees ( Dahl, All-Music Guide)

BBC photo of Jimmy RuffinFollowing the release of the first album, the Ruffin brothers switched to another Detroit-label, Check-Mate, where they produced two singles, which were  produced with Check-Mate records and written and produced by a composer by the name of Billy Davis. (David Ruffin: www.musicblvd.com/cgi-bin/tw). Jimmy Ruffin was soon drafted into the war after his recording.  Jimmy served in the Armed Forces.  After his release he went back to his Motown record company to record his Soul label in 1964.
(wysiwg://main.153/http://www.motown40.com/history/timeline/1961.html).  In 1969, as mentioned, David and Jimmy gathered together to produce Ben E. King‘s hit, “Stand By Me.” This album was the only one produced by the two of them together. Currently, Jimmy Ruffin lives in England and for a time at least had a talk show there.  His son will soon be bringing out an album.

People can learn from Jimmy Ruffin how to maintain control under fame and fortune. David Ruffin died of a drug overdose,   people a very valuable lesson- all the money in the universe means nothing without having someone to share it with. David’s death also leaves a very important message…”Say Nope to Dope.”



1939-  May 7, Jimmy Ruffin was born  in Collinsville, Mississippi
1941-  David Ruffin was born.
1960?  Jimmy  Ruffin is signed with Motown and releases his first record under the new label. Jimmy was drafted soon after, served in the Armed Forces until 1964, and returned to Motown to record for its Soul label.Jimmy Ruffin Sings Top Ten
1964-  David Ruffin joined the Temptations, but later David leaves group to embark on solo career
1967   Top Ten (Soul )
1969   Ruffn' Ready (Soul )
1970  The Groove Governor
1969-70 David and Jimmy gathered together to produce, “Stand By Me. ”I Am My Brother's Keeper (Motown 1970)
1973   Jimmy Ruffin 
1974   Recorded "Tell Me What You Want."
1975   Love Is All We Need (Polydor)
1980   Sunrise (RSO)
1997   Performed in England at Summerbreeze 97, held on the weekend of July 18-20, along with over 100 musicians in some 20 acts 
1998   Has own talk show in England where he now lives with his son


Related Websites

Sketchy info on Jimmy Ruffin.

Interesting BBC interview with Jimmy Ruffin from England.



Bianco, David. “David Ruffin.” Contemporary Musicians Volume two. 1990 Bianco,

“David Ruffin.” [Online] Available at  http://www.musicblud.com/cgi-bin/tw/Contemporary
http://www.musicblud.com/cgi-bin/tw/Contemporary Musician, December, 1991.

Collin, Larkin. “David Ruffin.” The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Volume Three. 1992.

Cox, James L. “Profiles of famous and Notable Mississippians.” Mississippi Almanac. 1997 "

David Ruffin.” [Online] Available at  http://www.musicblud.com/cgi-bin/tw10117447078922937010-105-210523.1999

“Jimmy Ruffin.” [Online] Available at http://www.allmusic.com/cgi/x.dll.April
http://www.allmusic.com/cgi/x.dll.April 1999. “Jimmy Ruffin.”

http://www.motown40.com/history/timeline/1960.html.April 1999. “Jimmy Ruffin.”





Last updated in 2004
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