The Temptations

By | Dec 18, 2007

The Temptations was one of the most successful vocal groups that came out of Motown, the record company founded in Detroit, Michigan by Berry Gordy. The original members of the group were Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Al Bryant, Eddie Kendricks, and Paul Williams forming under the name The Elgins. Otis Williams and Al Bryant came from a group called The Distants, while Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams came from the Primes.

In 1963, Al Bryant, who prefered his day job over performing, left the group and David Ruffin, cousin of Lamont Dozier of the song writing team of Holland, Dozier, Holland, joined the group. David Ruffin’s brother Jimmy had been considered, but David had better performance skills.

Ruffin, with his more Southern “gospel shouter” style, emerged as a third lead singer along with Kendrick’s smoother falsetto “romantic lead” and Paul William’s power baritone style. With this they could perform nearly any style that the producers of Motown desired. Most of the Singles released by the Temptations before 1968 had Ruffin singing lead.

1968 saw a major change for the Temptations. David Ruffin left the group for a solo career and was replaced by Dennis Edwards. At the same time Norman Whitfield, who had been producing the group for a couple of years created a new pyschedelic sound for them. Cloud Nine was the debut of this new sound and they moved away from the Ruffin style ballards to a funkier beat.

Two years later saw the departure of Eddie Kendrick and Paul Williams. Paul Williams health was on the decline and he was even replaced on stage a few times by Richard Street. Kendricks didn’t like the sound that the group was taking and regularity had fights with Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin over who was the leader of the group. However before they left recorded the lead vocals for Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me).

Otis Williams is the only original member still with the group. Of the original five he is also the only one still alive. Paul Williams died as a result of suicide in 1973. Al Bryant died in 1975 of cirrhosis of the liver. Eddie Kendrick died in 1992 of lung cancer. Melvin Franklin died in 1995. He was the only other original member to not leave the group.


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