|The Legacy of The Temptations|
|Get Ready for the Temptations. Motown's ultimate male vocal group is celebrating 50 years in American Popular music. Their interchangeable leads, distinctive harmonic blend, precison choreography, immaculate attire and lush ochestrated repertoire is all inspiring. Formed in the Motor City in 1959 as Otis Williams and The Distants, they charted regionally on the Northern record label with the Richard Street lead single "Come On." The Distants splintered shortly after and the remaining members merged with rival group the Primes to become the Eligins. A few years later David Ruffin was added to the lineup and the name was changed to The Temptations. The Classic Five lineup of David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Otis Williams, Paul Williams and Melvin Franklin achieved national chart recognition in 1964 with the Smokey Robinson penned "The Way You Do The Things You Do". Several successful singles followed including "I'll Be In Trouble," "The Girl's Alright with Me," and "Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue" all showcasing Eddie's tender first tenor. In 1965 came Motown's and The Temptations' most memorable song "My Girl." The No.1 R&B and Pop hit thrust Ruffin into the spotlight and made The Temptations national headliners. The Motown hits kept coming, including "Ain't To Proud To Beg," "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep," "I Know (I'm Losing You)" and the pleading "I Wish It Would Rain" all brilliant leads by the voice of the "Man With The Glasses" David Ruffin. By 1967 The Temptations were elevated to international superstar status with the release of the crossover gem "In A Mellow Mood." This landmark LP featured Pop standards such as Melvin Franklin's rock bottom lead on "Ol' Man River" and Paul Williams heart-wrenching "For Once In My Life." Ruffin soared to new heights with a celebrated version of "The Impossible Dream" from the Broadway musical "Man of La Mancha." According to The Temptations 1998 TV mini-series escalating egos among group members forced a change in personnel. David Ruffin made his exit from the lineup in July 1968 and was replaced by Dennis Edwards.
"There were many before him, they'll be many after him, but there will never be another quite like him" speaks Dennis Edwards of the man he came to replace in The Temptations. The equally talented but stylishly different Dennis Edwards was transferred from fellow Motown group The Contours to become part of the "Hall of Fame Six." His addition contemplated a switch in style for the group and ushered in a new Psycadellic soul era for The Temptations. The soulfully demanding leads of Dennis Edwards alternating with Kendricks, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, and Franklin earned The Temptations and Motown their first Grammy Award for "Cloud Nine." The Temptaions microphone was created with five mics branching off from one stand to accomodate the group's onstage high energy dance routines. Their sound was crafted by producer Norman Whitfield backed by the funk brothers and included a new legacy of hit tracks like the R&B/Pop No.1 " I Can't Get Next to You," the social concious "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today." The Temptations smoothest ballad ever was soon to follow and was the final Kendricks' lead 1971's "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)".
Damon Harris a young man from Baltimore with a magnificent voice and similiar sound to Kendricks' replaced the man he patterned himself after. "I come to realize that what I have is what I have. Just like some people share the same hair color or eye color", mentions Harris in a recent interview with R&B Showcase Magazine.
The Temptations scored a top ten R&B and No. 18 Pop hit with "Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)" in late 1971. The single marked the return of Pre-Tempts alumni Richard Street who often sang leads on an off-stage mic for an ailing Paul Williams. " I always felt like a buzzard waiting for something or someone to happen" mentions Street. The smooth tenor became a permanent replacement for Williams who later died tragically on August 17, 1973 at the age of 34.
Richard Street's leads with The Temptations include 1973's "Hey Girl (I Like your Style)"; "Heavenly" shared with Damon Harris; and a co-lead with his bass singing cousin Franklin on "Firefly" from "A Song For You" in 1975. The highlight from this exceptional lineup was the multiple Grammy Winner "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" No.1 Pop in 1972. The No. 1 R&B Top Ten Pop album "Masterpiece" followed in 1973. "A Song For You" included the righteous title track lead by Dennis Edwards and two more R&B No. 1's "Happy People" featuring the Commodores band, and a foot stomping "Shakey Ground." Shortly after Washington D.C. native Glenn Leonard joined the Temptations in for the departing Damon Harris. The group's self-produced "The Temptations Do The Temptations" album was their exit LP after more than a dedade with the famed record label. Glenn's leads with The Temptations include the gorgeous "I'm On Fire" and his most memorable a soaring "Silent Night" from 1980's "Give Love At Christmas."
The Temptations were now internationally recognized as the "World's Greatest Vocal Group." The group continued to tour through out the 1980's with various shifts in personnel. The groups' integrity was always intact as the incoming members brought further success to the legacy. Smooth baritone singer Louis Price was chosen to replace a departing Dennis Edwards who was in and out of the group on several occasions.
Ron Tyson of Philadelphia joined The Temptations in time for Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, and Forever." The veteran first tenor lead brought his songwriting skils to the lineup and hit with "Sail Away" a crossover tune from 1983's "Back to Basics" LP. Ali-Ollie Woodson joined shortly after and The Temptations were back on top with 1984's "Treat Her Like A Lady" penned by Woodson with founder Otis Williams. Woodson confesses, " I owe a lot to The Temptations They made me a better performer and I am thankful to them. Dennis Edwards and David Ruffin were also two of my favorite singers growing up."
The Temptations over the years have included the masterful soul stylings of R&B's greatest vocalists including G.C. Cameron also formerlly of The Spinners ("It's A Shame"). Theo Peoples and Terry Weeks joined in time for the groups multi-platinum 1998 release "Phoenix Rising". The biggest selling LP in the group's history includes the single "Stay" and the radio friendly "This Is My Promise" composed and lead by Theo Peioples. Today The Temptations are Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon and Bruce Williamson. The current album is "Still Here"
|Part II - Legacy of The Temptations|
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