What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
Single by Jimmy Ruffin
from the album Jimmy Ruffin Sings Top Ten
B-side "Baby, I've Got It"
Released June 3, 1966
Format 7" single
Recorded Hitsville USA (Studio A); 1966
Genre Soul
Length 3:00
Label Soul
S 35022
Writer(s) William Weatherspoon
Paul Riser
James Dean
Producer(s) William Weatherspoon
William "Mickey" Stevenson
Jimmy Ruffin singles chronology
"As Long As There Is L-O-V-E"
"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
"I've Passed This Way Before"

"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" is a hit single recorded by Jimmy Ruffin and released on Motown Records' Soul label in the summer of 1966. It is a ballad, with lead singer Jimmy Ruffin recalling the pain that befalls the brokenhearted, who had love that's now departed. The song essentially deals with the struggle to overcome sadness while seeking a new relationship after the passing of a loved one.

The tune was written by William Weatherspoon, Paul Riser, and James Dean, and the recording was produced by Weatherspoon and William "Mickey" Stevenson. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" remains one of the most-revived of Motown's hits.

Composers Weatherspoon and Riser and lyricist Dean had originally written "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" with the intention of having The Spinners, then an act on Motown's V.I.P. label, record the tune. Jimmy Ruffin, older brother of Temptations lead singer David Ruffin, persuaded Dean to let him record the song, as its anguished lyric about a man lost in the misery of heartbreak resonated with the singer.

Ruffin's lead vocal on the recording is augmented by the instrumentation of Motown's in-house studio band, The Funk Brothers, and the joint backing vocals of Motown session singers The Originals and The Andantes. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, and at number six on the Billboard R&B Singles chart, as well as No.8 on the UK Chart. 8 years later, the song was reissued (with a B-Side of Ruffin's minor US hit "Don't You Miss Me a Little Bit Baby"), and surpassed its original chart position, reaching No.4, and thus making it his highest-placed chart single in the UK.

The song originally featured a spoken introduction by Ruffin, similar in style to many of Lou Rawls' performances at the time. The spoken verse was removed from the final mix, hence the unusually long instrumental intro on the released version. The spoken verse is present on the alternate mix from the UK 2003 release Jimmy Ruffin - The Ultimate Motown Collection, and as a new stereo extended mix on the 2005 anthology, The Motown Box:

A world filled with love is a wonderful sight.
Being in love is one's heart's delight.
But that look of love isn't on my face.
That enchanted feeling has been replaced.

Chart performance

Weekly charts

Chart (1966) Peak
Canada[1] 18
France[1] 2
UK[1] 8
US Billboard Hot 100[1] 7
US Billboard R&B 6
US Cash Box Top 100[1] 9
US Record World[1] 7
Chart (1974) Peak
UK 4

Year-end charts

Chart (1966) Rank
US Billboard Hot 100[2] 14
US Cash Box Top 100[1] 36
Chart (1974) Rank
UK[3] 44



"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
Single by Robson & Jerome
from the album Take Two
Released 28 October 1996 (1996-10-28)
Format CD Single
Genre Pop, blue-eyed soul
Length 3:24
Label RCA
Writer(s) William Weatherspoon
Paul Riser
James Dean
Robson & Jerome singles chronology
"I Believe/Up on the Roof"
"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  2. "Top 100 Hits of 1966/Top 100 Songs of 1966". musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  3. "Top 100 1974 - UK Music Charts". top-source.info. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  4. Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 264.
  5. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 599–600. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
Preceded by
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" by George Michael with Elton John
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single (Paul Young version)
February 22, 1992 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Missing You Now" by Michael Bolton featuring Kenny G
Preceded by
"Say You'll Be There" by Spice Girls
UK number-one single (Robson & Jerome version)
("What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" / "Saturday Night at the Movies" / "You'll Never Walk Alone")

November 3, 1996 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Breathe" by The Prodigy
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