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. Their mother, Annie, had run off to Detroit with another man.
“ I guess the hardest part to take was being there and knowing that both of your parents were still alive.”
— Philippè Wynne, 1981.
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”)
Next he became a member of the Pacesetters followed by the James Brown group, the JB’s. Prior to joining the Spinners, Wynne 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. Originally formed in the 1950s, the Spinners original lineup included Bobbie Smith, Pervis Jackson, Billy Henderson, George W. Dixon, and Henry Fambrough.
The group began as a quintet called ‘The Domingoes’ at a local high school in the Ferndale District of Detroit, Michigan. In 1961, they came to the attention of music producer Harvey Fuqua (and of The Moonglows), and were quickly signed to the Tri-Phi Records Label, with there new name of ‘The Detroit Spinners.’ Following the release of the group’s first Top Ten R&B hit single, “That’s What Girls Are Made For,’ George W. Dixon left the group, and was replaced by Edgar “Chico” Edwards.
Throughout the 1960s the group released several minor releases that failed, but by the mid-1960s, Edwards had been replaced by G.C. Cameron as lead singer, and they were now recording on the Motown Record Label, following the buyout of there old label of Tri-Phi. They again had a few more recordings including, “Truly Yours”, “I’ll Always Love You”, and a success with Stevie Wonder’s, “It’s A Shame”, in 1970. By 1972, the group’s contract at the Motown Record Label was over.
That same year the group let lead singer G.C. Cameron go and replaced him Philippe Wynne. Known for his silky voice, Wynne had previously been a gospel singer, and had worked with such groups as, Catfish, Bootsie Collins, and The Pacesetters, among others. The ‘new’ reformed group signed with the Atlantic Record Label and began to work with music producer Thom Bell. Quickly becoming a first-rate soul singer, Wynne helped the group to achieve many hit chart successes inlcuding on both the R&B and pop charts.
There recording successes included, “How Could I Let You Get Away”, “Games People Play”, “One Of A Kind (Love Affair),” “Ghetto Child”, “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love”, “I’ll Be Around”, “You’re Throwing A Good Love Love Away”, “Mighty Love”, and “Rubberband Man.” The group also had there share of successful albums, including some on the Top 20 and some going gold.
By 1977, Wynne decided he had enough and he left the group to pursure a solo career with Alan Thicke (RIP) as his manager. He was replaced as lead singer by John Edwards. Wynne recorded the solo album “Starting All Over”, and “Wynne Jammin”, on the Cotillion Record Label in 1980. Although none of Wynne’s solo achievements went anywhere, 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). 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.
He scored notable hits such as “How Could I Let You Get Away”, “The Rubberband Man”, “One of a Kind (Love Affair)”, “I’ll Be Around”, “Mighty Love”, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”, and “Then Came You” with Dionne Warwick.
On July 14, 1984, while performing a concert in Oakland, California, Wynne suffered a massive heart attackand died the next morning. He was 43.