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The Spinners scored their fifth #1 R&B hit with this song. Here, the singer is bemoaning how people manipulate others to get what they want in matters of love, while observing that the honest, open approach never seems to work. The game playing theory was originally made popular by psychologist Eric Berne in his best-selling book, also called Games People Play
The female vocalist on this song was Barbara Ingram, who was a very popular backup singer, appearing on recordings by Lou Rawls, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder and many others. (thanks, Mike - Santa Barbara, CA, for above 2)
The first pressings of this song were issued as simply "Games People Play," but the title was changed to avoid confusion with the song of the same name by Joe South
. The awkward title ensured that publishing royalties wouldn't be misappropriated to South's song.
Joseph Jefferson, Bruce Hawes and Charles Simmons wrote this song. They worked for Thom Bell, who was The Spinners producer. Other Spinners tracks this trio wrote were "One of a Kind (Love Affair)" and "Mighty Love."
All 5 Spinners get a turn on lead vocals here, including bass singer Pervis Jackson. Thom Bell explains in The Billboard Book of #1 R&B Hits: "Basses are not usually designed to do anything but hold the root. He's the bottom and they're not really known for being soloists. So I said I'm going to come up with something for that guy. And from the moment I gave him that part, his whole personality, his whole everything changed."
Did Marvin try out with the Detroit Lions? Did he fake crazy to get out of military service? And what about the cross-dressing?
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