Motown singing star Jimmy Ruffin, whose hits included "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" and "Hold on to My Love," has died aged 78, a Motown spokesman said.

Ruffin died Monday in hospital in Las Vegas, according to media reports. The cause of death was not given.

"I can confirm the passing of Motown legend Jimmy Ruffin," Allen Rawls, head of the Motown Museum in Detroit, told AFP.

Born in Mississippi on May 7, 1939, Ruffin launched a solo career after declining an offer to join Motown greats The Temptations -- who subsequently hired his brother David as lead singer and had hits with songs including "My Girl."

After "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" in 1966, Ruffin had hit tunes including "Gonna Give Her All the Love I've Got," "Don't You Miss Me A Little Bit Baby" and "I've Passed This Way Before."

He moved to Britain in the 1970s, and had a comeback hit in 1980 with "Hold on to My Love," co-produced by Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees.

"Jimmy Ruffin was a phenomenal singer," Motown Records founder Berry Gordy said, Rolling Stone magazine reported.

"He was truly underrated because we were also fortunate to have his brother, David, as the lead singer of The Temptations, who got so much acclaim," he added in a statement.