Spencer Wiggins Biography

Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Eight singles for Quinton Claunch’s Memphis-based Goldwax Records label in the late 60s gave Wiggins his place in soul music history, with his deep-soul, ‘churchy’ style, similar to that of Solomon Burke, except that Wiggins seemed capable of even greater vocal power and range, and a telling occasional falsetto. As well as Wiggins, the Goldwax roster in that era boasted O.V. Wright (for just his first single), James Carr, the Ovations, Willie Walker and Percy Milem. Perhaps his best-known track was the Dan Penn / Spooner Oldham ballad, ‘Uptight Good Woman’, taken at an almost funereal pace. Some of Wiggins’ other Goldwax recordings were equally emotive, notably ‘That’s How Much I Love You’, ‘The Power Of A Woman’, ‘Take Me (Just As I Am)’, and an excellent cover version of Aretha Franklin’s first ever hit for Atlantic Records, ‘I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)’ (suitably retitled ‘I Never Loved A Woman (The Way I Love You)’ by Wiggins). Both versions were cut at Fame studios, Muscle Shoals, and Wiggins’ recording was enhanced by the guitar work of Duane Allman.

In the early 70s Wiggins moved briefly to Rick Hall’s Fame label itself, first cutting ‘Love Me Tonight’, and then re-recording Etta James’ original version of the deep ballad ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’, which had also been cut at Fame back in 1967. Nothing more was heard of Wiggins until he resurfaced in the mid-70s, along with other Memphis-based soul artists like Ollie Nightingale and Barbara And The Browns, on the XL/Sounds of Memphis labels, where his few sides were produced by Earl Cage and ex-Goldwax writer/producer/singer Dan Greer. As with his Goldwax material, it was left largely to the Japanese Vivid Sound label to reissue this product, and it remains rare and expensive.

From 1976 onwards Wiggins devoted himself to the church. He became a deacon of the New Birth Baptist Church in Miami, Florida, and worked with a number of gospel choirs. He has released the occasional gospel recording during this time, most notably 2003’s Keys To The Kingdom.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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