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Franklin C. Kennedy, doo-wop singer, dies

Franklin Charles Kennedy, of Northwest Baltimore, was a retired technician who was also an acclaimed singer with the 1960s group Frankie and the Spindles.
Franklin Charles Kennedy, of Northwest Baltimore, was a retired technician who was also an acclaimed singer with the 1960s group Frankie and the Spindles. (HANDOUT)

Franklin Charles Kennedy, a retired technician who was also an acclaimed singer with the 1960s group Frankie and the Spindles, died of an infection April 20 at Mercy Medical Center. The Northwest Baltimore resident was 67.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Thomas Kennedy and Mary Ann Kennedy.

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He was raised on North Schroeder Street and was a 1967 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School. He served in the Army in Germany.

He and a group of friends gained local acclaim after winning a talent show at the Lexington Terrace Recreation Center in the 1960s. They formed a group, Frankie and the Spinners, which they later changed to Spindles.

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Some of the group's early appearances included performances at Catholic Youth Organization dances in East Baltimore. In 1967, they also appeared at the old Club Venus in a show that featured the Four Tops.

They came to the attention of a local DJ, Fred "Rockin Robin" Robinson, and went to Philadelphia, where they worked with producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Hoff. Mr. Kennedy and his group recorded the hit songs, "Count to Ten" and "Candy." He sang alongside one of his brothers, Robert Kennedy, who was known as Skeet.

In "Baltimore Sounds," author Joe Vaccarino wrote that the Spindles "recorded and released some of the best soul/rock material to come out of Baltimore during their era."

The group also appeared at the 1973 Baltimore City Fair and at the Civic Center, where they opened for national performers Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles, among others.

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As The Spindles, the group performed for many years after Mr. Kennedy left.

He went on to work at the old Western Electric Co. on Broening Highway. After it closed in the 1980s, he became a technician at Spring Grove State Hospital.

He also sang in the male choir at the New Life Inspirational Church, where he was a former member.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Agape Christian Center, 4601 York Road.

Survivors include his wife of 28 years, Dorothy Mae Ragsdale, a Department of Social Services health benefits supervisor; two sons, Franklin C. Kennedy Jr. and Eric Lamont Kennedy; three brothers, Robert Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy and Ronnie Kennedy; three sisters, Patricia Kennedy, Charlette Kennedy and Sara Kennedy; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. All reside in the Baltimore area.

—Jacques Kelly

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