The Temptations Biography
Last updated: 09/10/2014 06:37:14 PM
--Ladies and gentlemen "The Temptations" with these words one is taken to a magical place. Finely tuned harmonies, shimmering suave outfits, smooth percision choeography. Not to mention some of the most compelling voices and beloved songs of all time. Seeing them is not just a concert but an event. They can do it all from pop to soul, contemporary to psychedelic, from motown to your town .The greatest vocal act of all time.
--The Temptations story begins with two struggling groups. The Primes (a trio consisting of Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, and Kell Osborne) who came from Alabama to Detroit blessed with heavenly harmonies. And The Distants (Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Elbridge Bryant, Albert Harrell, and Richard Street) who in 1959 recorded "Come On" for Johnnie Mae Matthews Northern Records. A short time later, Street and Harrell leave and The Primes break up with Kendricks and P.Williams joining the remaining Distants to form the Elgins in 1960.
--Signed by Berry Gordy Jr. the group renames itself The Temptations on the front lawn of Motowns offices in 1961, recording two singles ("Oh Mother Of Mine" and "Check Yourself") for the labels Miracle Records. In 1962 the group is switched to Motowns new Gordy Records and releases the labels first single "Dream Come True"(#22 R&B). The next three singles flop however causing Gordy Jr. to release a fourth "Mind Over Matter" (under the name The Pirates) again to no avail.
--In 1963 choeographer Cholly Atkins is brought in to add polish to P.Williams streetwise steps. Later that year Bryant attacks P.Williams after a Motortown Christmas Review Show and a short time after is gone from the group. David Ruffin (who released two singles "I'm In Love" in 1961 and "Action Speaks Louder Than Words" in 1962) joins The Temps.
--Ruffin brought excitement to the group, the wide horned rimmed glasses, emotional facial expressions, and electrifying moves. The magic begun for the quintet who charted with "The Way You Do The Things You Do"(#11 Pop). The Temps were simply untouchable. With Kendricks silky tenor, Ruffins straining shouts, Franklins booming bass, P.Williams smooth sounds, and O.Williams baritone. The song "Girl Why You Wanna Make Me Blue"(#26 Pop) took the group into 1965 when Smokey Robinson brought them the song "My Girl"(#1 R&B and Pop) which started a string of Ruffin led hits including, "It's Growing"(#3 R&B), "Since I Lost My Baby"(#4 R&B) and "My Baby"(#4 R&B, #13 Pop).
--The next year in 1966 the hits continued. "Get Ready"(#1 R&B), "Ain't To Proud To Beg"(#1 R&B, #13 Pop) which featured the famed temptation walk, "Beautys Only Skin Deep"(#1 R&B, #3 Pop) and "I Know I'm Losing You"(#1 R&B, #8 Pop). In 1967 the group started expanding its horizons recording a standards album "In A Mellow Mood" and appearing at the famed Copocabana. Two more top ten hits, "You're My Everything"(#3 R&B, #6 Pop) and "All I Need"(#2 R&B, #8 Pop) followed.
--In 1968 the hits kept coming, "I Wish It Would Rain"(#1 R&B, #4 Pop), "I Could Never Love Another"(#1 R&B, #13 Pop) and "Please Return Your Love To Me"(#4 R&B). The most significant event of the year however was Ruffins leaving for a solo career. Unhappy with the way he was being treated (Ruffin wanted a name change and more say like other lead singers Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson) Ruffin was asked to leave.
--At first viewed an insurmountable blow The Temps overcame Ruffins departure by replacing him with the strong voice of Ex-Contour Dennis Edwards and adopting a new psychedelic soul sounding style.The group made its first appearance without Ruffin on July 9th at the Valley Forge Music Fair. In late 1968 the group appears on the television special "TCB". P.Williams held a national tv audience spellbound giving his all on "For Once In My Life". In 1969 "Cloud Nine"(#2 R&B, #6 Pop) brought both the group and Motown its first Grammy. In addition "Runaway Child"(#1 R&B, #6 Pop) and "Can't Get Next To You"(#1 R&B and Pop) coupled with 1970s "Psychedelic Shack"(#2 R&B, #7 Pop) and "Ball Of Confusion"(#2 R&B, #3 Pop) added to the groups string of hits.
--Around this time Ruffins solo career was also booming. The Temps sounding "My Whole World Ended"(#2 R&B, #9 Pop) was coupled with "I've Lost Everything I've Ever Loved"(#11 R&B) and "I'm So Glad I Fell For You"(#18 R&B). In 1971 Kendricks last led hit with the group "Just My Imagination"(#1 R&B and Pop) started a changing of the guard. Both Kendricks (who left to start a solo career) and P.Williams (forced to leave due to poor health) were gone. Ricky Owens replaced Kendricks, but was gone before ever recording with the group. Damon Harris and Ex-Distant Street joined Franklin, O.Williams, and Edwards and it seemed nothing could stop The Temps, "Superstar"(#8 R&B) and "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"(#1 Pop, #5 R&B) which brought two more Grammys kept the groups fortunes going.
--By 1973 things were not going well for P.Williams. His ailing health coupled with depression and alcohol sent him on a downword spiral. His Primes parner Kendricks tried to reach out to him co-writing and producing "Feel Like Givin Up", but before it was released P.Williams was found dead in his car on August 17 just blocks from Motowns offices. Kendricks solo career hit it big over the next few years. "Keep On Truckin"(#1 R&B and Pop) and "Boogie Down"(#1 R&B, #2 Pop)lead the way followed by "Shoeshine Boy"(#1 R&B), "Happy"(#8 R&B) and "He's A Friend(#2 R&B).
--In 1975 both The Temps and Ruffin had big years. The group charted with the number one R&B album "A Song For You" yet another change was coming with Harris leaving replaced by Glenn Leonard. Ruffin whose career was floundering saw producer Van McCoy give him his biggest hit "Walk Away From Love"(#1 R&B, #9 Pop) which coupled with "Heavy Love"(#8 R&B) and "Everythings Coming Up Love"(#8 R&B) gave Ruffin one last hurrah as a solo star.
--After a couple quiet years the group left both Edwards and Motown behind. Louis Price was brought on board and the group signed with Atlantic recording two unsuccessful albums. Just as quickly the group returned to Motown reuniting with Edwards on "Power"(#11 R&B). The 80's ignited a resurgence in the group. In 1982 the reunion tour (which saw Ruffin and Kendricks return) produced the hit single "Standing On The Top"(#6 R&B). Fans went crazy, but tensions and problems arouse again causing Ruffin and Kendricks to leave after ending the tour at New Yorks Radio City Music Hall.
--The group continued to soar. An appearance on the Motown 25 Anniversary Show saw them star in a battle of the groups with old friends The Four Tops on the night that Ron Tyson joined the fold replacing Leonard. The appearance kicked off the T-N-T tour which ran for three years including a sell out stint on broadway. Edwards was gone again this time going solo and hitting with "Don't Look Any Further"(#2 R&B). Meanwhile Ali Ollie Woodson joined The Temps co-writing "Treat Her Like A Lady"(#2 R&B).
--In 1985 with Kendricks and Ruffins careers seemingly over longtime fans Hall and Oates invite the two to appear with them at the reopening of New Yorks Apollo Theatre. The appearance resulted in a hit single of a Temps medley "Way You Do The Things You Do/My Girl"(#20 Pop) sparking renewed interest in the duo.
--The group during this time continues touring and making tv appearances hitting with "Lady Soul"(#4 R&B). In 1987 Edwards returns for a brief tenure on "I Wonder Who Shes Seeing Now"(#3 R&B) while Ruffin and Kendricks sign with RCA charting as a duo on "I Couldn't Believe It"(#14 R&B). Problems however continue to plague Ruffin who in 1988 is convicted of cocaine possesion. In the meantime O.Williams releases an autobiography (Temptations) about the history of the group. Edwards then is out once again with Woodson returning on "Special"(#10 R&B). On January 18, 1989 the group is inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame by Hall and Oates. Shortly after Kendricks and Edwards team up on the single "Get It While Its Hot" co-written by Jermaine Jackson while the group records a new version of "Get Ready" to help promote CBS programming.
--In 1991 Kendricks, Ruffin, and Edwards team up on a 15 date tour. However just when things were looking up Ruffin dies of a drug overdose at a Philadelphia hospital on June 1 after being brought to the emergency room by a limo driver. Michael Jackson paid for the funeral but bad luck continued for the ex-temps when pallbearer Kendricks is arrested in Detroit at Ruffins funeral for failure to pay child support and in November has a cancerous right lung removed. The groups fortunes continue to shine as they back Rod Stewart on the "Motown Song"(#10 Pop)and release their 50th album "Milestone".
--In January of 1992 the group is inducted into the NAACP Hall Of Fame touring worldwide throughout the year. However Kendricks (one year after having surgery) dies of lung cancer at Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama on October 5th.
--In late 1992 another change in the group comes as longtime member Street leaves and is replaced by Theo Peoples. In September 1994, two big events happened in one week. The group is awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and a five cd box set "Emperors Of Soul" covering the groups history is released. In 1995 tragedy strikes again as on February 23 Franklin dies of heart failure (after suffering brain seizures one week earlier) at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Ray Davis is brought onboard and in September The Temps release the album "For Lovers Only" featuring Franklins last song with the group "Life Is But A Dream".
--By the albums second single "Time After Time" released in 1996 both Woodson and Davis (illness) are gone. Harry McGillberry joins and the group tour as a foursome until 1997 when Terry Weeks(ex-for lovers only)joins.
--The year 1998 sees the quintet rise once again. An appearance at the Super Bowl coupled with the release of the album "Phoenix Rising" (during recording Peoples leaves replaced by Barrington Henderson) featuring the hit single "Stay"(#1 Urb/Ac) and the November airing of the NBC miniseries "The Temptations"(based on O.Williams 1988 book) to successful ratings takes group into 1999. Induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the album "Phoenix Rising" going Platinum take The Temptations into the new millennium hotter than since the 60's much to the delight of fans worldwide.
Thanks to Julia/beauty for submitting the biography.