Member-by-Member History of the Temptations Artist Biography The Temptations are the most important soul group of the last half century.
One of Motown's most elastic acts, they tackled both lush pop and politically charged funk with equal flair, and weathered a steady stream of changes in personnel and consumer tastes with rare dignity and grace. The Temptations' initial five-man lineup formed in Detroit in as a merger of two local vocal groups, the Primes and the Distants.
Baritone Otis Williams, Elbridge aka El, or Al Bryant, and bass vocalist Melvin Franklin were longtime veterans of the Detroit music scene when they came together in the Distants, who in recorded the single "Come On" for the local Northern label.
Around the same time, the Primes, a trio comprised of tenor Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams no relation to Otisand Kell Osborne, relocated to the Motor City from their native Alabama; they quickly found success locally, and their manager even put together a girl group counterpart dubbed the Primettes.
Inthe Primes disbanded, but not before Otis Williams saw them perform live, and he was impressed by both Kendricks' vocal prowess and Paul Williams' choreography skills. Soon, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Bryant, Franklin, and Kendricks joined together as the Elgins; after a name change to the Temptations, they signed to the Motown subsidiary Miracle, where they released a handful of singles over the ensuing months.
Only one, the effort "Dream Come True," achieved any commercial success, however, and inBryant either resigned or was fired after physically attacking Paul Williams. He was replaced by ex-Contour Dennis Edwards, whose less polished voice adapted perfectly to the psychedelic-influenced soul period the group entered with "Cloud Nine," their first Grammy-winning recording.
As the times changed, so did the group, and as the '60s drew to a close, the Temptations' music became overtly political. Soon, Paul Williams left the group as well. Long plagued by alcoholism and other personal demons, he was eventually discovered dead from a self-inflected gunshot wound on August 17,at the age of In their stead, the remaining trio recruited tenors Damon Harris and Richard Street.
While the Tempts hit the charts regularly throughout with "Masterpiece," "Let Your Hair Down," and "The Plastic Man," their success as a pop act gradually dwindled as the '70s wore on. After Edwards returned to the fold resulting in Price's hasty exitthe Temptations reentered the Motown stable, and scored a hit with "Power.
A tour followed, but problems with Motown, as well as personal differences, cut Ruffin's and Kendricks' tenures short. In the years that followed, the Temptations continued touring and recording, although by the '90s they were essentially an oldies act; only Otis Williams, who published his autobiography inremained from the original lineup.
Although the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inthe intervening years without new studio recordings were marked by tragedy. After touring in the late '80s with Kendricks and Edwards as a member of the "Tribute to the Temptations" package tour, Ruffin died on June 1,after overdosing on cocaine; he was 50 years old.
On October 5,Kendricks died at the age of 52 of lung cancer, and on February 23,year-old Franklin passed away after suffering a brain seizure. Inthe Temptations returned with Phoenix Rising. Their history was also the subject of a televised mini-series, The Temptations, based on Williams' autobiography.
Although it was well-received and nominated for several Emmy Awards, numerous parties, including David Ruffin's family, filed lawsuits. Meanwhile, the group continued to perform and record. Although Awesome and Legacy, released during the next few years, became the group's final Motown studio recordings, the Temptations kept their label affiliation intact.
Reflections, issued infeatured covers of classic Motown numbers. After three years of steady touring, the group returned with Still Here, a set of new material issued on the eve of their 50th anniversary.
Dennis Edwards died on February 1, at the age of Three months later, still led by Otis Williams, the group released All the Time, which combined original songs with covers of hits recorded by the likes of Michael Jackson, Maxwell, and the Weeknd.Check out Motown's Greatest Hits by The Temptations on Amazon Music.
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Motown was one of the most important, and popular, sounds in all of American pop music (see entry under s—Music in volume 3). Founded by Berry Gordy Jr. (–) in in Detroit, Michigan, the label's name came from a popular nickname for Detroit.
Soon, these five come together as the Temptations, signing with Motown Records in Their debut release, with Eddie on lead, is written and produced by Berry Gordy: “Dream Come True,” which is also the first release on the Gordy label, touches the R&B charts, momentarily.