The Temptations were formed in 1961 in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A., by former members of two local R & B groups. Eddie Kendricks (b. Edward James Kendrick, 17th December 1939, Union Springs, Alabama, U.S.A., d. 5th October 1992, Baptist Medical Center-Princeton, Ensley, Alabama, U.S.A.) and Paul Williams (b. 2nd July 1939, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A., d. 17th August 1973, Detroit Michigan, U.S.A.), both sang with 'The Primes'.
Melvin Franklin (b. David Melvin English, 12th October 1942, Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.A., d. 23rd February 1995, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.), Eldridge Bryant (Eldridge 'Al' Bryant, b. 28th September 1939, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 26th October 1975, Orange County, Florida, U.S.A., buried in Thomasville, Georgia, U.S.A.) and Otis Williams (b. Otis Clayborn Williams, 30th October 1941, Texarkana, Texas, U.S.A. His mother was Hazel Lee Williams) were part of 'The Distants'.
...later Temptations included...
- David Ruffin (b. 18th January 1941, Whyknot, Mississippi, U.S.A., d. 1st June 1991, Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia, U.S.A.)
- Dennis Edwards (b. Dennis Wayne Edwards Jnr, 3rd February 1943, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A.)
- G.C. Cameron (b. George Curtis Cameron, 21st September 1945, Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.A.)
- Louis Price (b. Louis Bernhardt Price, 29th March 1953, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.)
- Ronald Wilson (of the group Bloodstone)
- Raymond Davis (b. Raymond Davis, 29th March 1940, Sumter, South Carolina, U.S.A. d. 5th July 2005, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick,U.S.A.)
- Damon Harris (b. Damon Othell Harris, 3rd July 1950, Baltimore Maryland, U.S.A.)
- Glenn Leonard (b. Glenn Carl Leonard, 11th June 1947, Washington D.C., U.S.A.)
- Harry McGilberry (b. Harry McGilberry Jnr, 19th January 1950, Pennsylvannia, U.S.A. d. 3rd April 2006)
- Richard Street (b. Richard Dale Street, 5th October 1942, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)
- Ron Tyson (b. Ronald Tyson, 8th February 1948, Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia, U.S.A.)
- Ali 'Ollie' Woodson (b. Ollie Creggett, 12th September 1951, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)
- Richard Owens (b. Richard Edgar 'Ricky' Owens, 24th April 1939, St Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. d. 6th December 1995, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A.)
- Dennis Williams
- Theo Peoples (b. Theoplis Peoples III, 1961, St. Louis Missouri, U.S.A.)
- and Cal Osborne.
- Cornelius Grant (guitarist and musical director, b 27th April 1943, Navarro County, Texas, U.S.A.)
- Barrington Scott 'Bo Henderson (b. 10th June 1956, Washington, Pennsylvannia, U.S.A.)
- Joseph Lucian 'Joe' Herndon (b. 5th January 1949, Washington D.C., U.S.A.)
- Terry Wayne Weeks ( b. 23rd December 1963, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A.)
The Temptations were formed out of two groups, the Primes (whose line up included Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and Kell Osborne) and the Distants (who in 1959 recorded the single 'Come On' for the Northern imprint). The Primes manager had even put together a girl version of the group, the Primettes (three of the Primettes, namely, Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard were later to form the Supremes). After the Primes and the Distants had merged, they became the Elgins, a name that was later to change to the Temptations in 1961, at the request of Berry Gordy, who took the group to his Motown Records imprint. Under the new mantle, they recorded three sides for the Miracle label (a Motown subsidiary), one of which was under the name of the Pirates. They later moved to the Gordy imprint where they made the charts in 1962 with the song 'Dream Come True'. Gordy then teamed up the Temptations with Smokey Robinson, a liaison that was to prove highly fruitful.
In 1963, Eldridge Bryant left the group (or was fired after physically attacking Paul Williams) and David Ruffin was recruited to the ranks, bringing to the music scene, what is considered by many to be, the 'classic' Temptations line-up. David's coarser delivery proved to be the perfect foil for Eddie Kendricks' softer falsetto style of singing. Between 1963 and 1965 the group recorded several chart hits, kicking off proceedings with 'The Way You Do The Things You Do'. 1965 saw the group hitting the number one spot with the song 'My Girl', with David Ruffin taking the lead. 'It's Growing', 'Since I Lost My Baby', 'My Girl' and 'Get Ready' followed on with varying levels of success into the following year.
A parent album was released entitled 'Temptations Sing Smokey', an album considered by many pundits to be the finest album of that decade. By the end of 1966, Smokey took a back seat as the groups Producer, with Norman Whitfield taking the helm. Norman was to be employed in this role for the following decade, teaming up with the singer / songwriter Barrett Strong. 'Ain't To Proud To Beg' was the initial release under the new tutelage. 'Beauty Is Only Skin Deep' made the Top Three, followed by 'I'm Losing You' and 'You're My Everything'.
The group also charted at the top spot with the classic song 'I Wish It Would Rain', the groups sixth number one tune. By this time, David Ruffin had taken on the role of singing lead, which led to requests that he had an individual credit for his efforts. This was refused and, after failing to appear at a 1968 live performance, the other four Temptations fired him and David left the line-up. The lead singer in the group the Contours, Dennis Edwards, was then drafted into the ranks.
Norman Whitfield, following a need to take the group in a new direction, moved the groups sound into an area that reflected the burgeoning psychedelic scene of the late Sixties. 'Cloud Nine' reflected this political shift with it's obvious drug connotations. The Civil Rights movement of the time also became reflected in Norman and Barrett Strongs writings, typified in the song 'Ball Of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)'. The issues effecting teenagers were addressed by the song 'Runaway Child, Running Wild'. Personal issues were also addressed in the form of 'I Can't Get Next To You', a song that hit the number one spot. Even the Vietnam War came under Norman's scrutiny in the guise of 'Stop The War Now'.
Norman Whitfield set a musical styling that was way ahead of it's time and still influences the songwriters of today. The groups new direction left Eddie Kendricks feeling uncomfortable with his vocal stylings being suited more to a ballad format. He recorded some sides with the Supremes during the latter part of that decade. Eddie did receive the lead role on the number one hit 'Just My Imagination', a beautiful song, however, he was to leave the group in 1971 to pursue a solo career.
Richard Owens was then drafted in to replace Eddie, who was in turn substituted for Damon Harris the same year. Paul Williams then departed the group, replaced by another member of the Distants, Richard Street. In 1971, the group had a hit with 'Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)'. The following year, the group scored another number one hit with the song 'Papa Was A Rolling Stone', a song that perfectly embodies the production techniques of Norman Whitfield. The song was later to win a Grammy Award.
Paul Williams, tragically, commited suicide in 1973 by shooting himself, following years of depression and drug abuse. Norman and Barrett's liaison ended the same year. The groups fortunes waned somewhat, although there were some excellent releases, including 'Masterpiece', The Plastic Man' and 'Let Your Hair Down' in 1973, followed by 'Happy People' two years later. In 1975, Norman Whitfield left Motown, Damon Harris had left the line-up, replaced by Glenn Leonard. 1976, saw Dennis Edwards leaving, Louis Price replacing him, and the group leaving Motown for the Atlantic imprint after the group recorded 1976's 'The Temptations Do the Temptations', their final album for Motown.
At Atlantic the group had a dabble with the disco market, releasing the LP's 'Bare Back' and 'Hear to Tempt You'. This change of labels brought the group little chart success resulting in a return to the Motown stable. Dennis Edwards rejoined the ranks and in 1980 the group released the album 'Power'.
In 1982, they teamed up with Rick James, recording the album 'Reunion', featuring the dancer 'Standing On The Top'. This album also saw a return to the fold for Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin, however, this arrangement was to be shortlived. After the departure of the pair, Ron Tyson replaced Glenn Leonard, and Ali 'Ollie' Woodson took over the role of lead vocalist from Dennis Edwards. In 1984, the group charted again with the song 'Treat Her Like A Lady', their most successful song in a decade. The parent album produced several singles including the title song 'Truly For You'.
Tragedy struck in 1991 when David Ruffin died on the 1st of June 1991, after overdosing on cocaine. On the 5th of October 1992, Eddie Kendricks died at the age of 52 of lung cancer. In 1995, Melvin Franklin died after suffering a brain seizure, leaving Otis Williams (who published his autobiography in 1988) as the sole surviving founder member from the original line-up.
The Temptations continued to record and perform, achieving success in 1998 with their excellent outing 'Phoenix Rising' (featuring the band utilising a sample from 'My Girl'), on the excellent song 'Stay'. A new, Grammy winning, album arrived in the year 2000, entitled 'Ear-resistable' (on Motown), which was well received. The line-up was by now, Otis Williams, Harry McGilberry Jr. (later replaced by Joe Herndon, former bass singer for Pookie Hudson & The Spaniels), Terry Wayne Weeks, Barrington Scott Henderson and Ron Tyson.
In 2001, the Temptations returned to the recording studio recording the album 'Awesome'. In 2003, G.C. Cameron joined the groups ranks, and in 2004 the group released the album 'Legacy'. Harry McGilberry passed away on the 3rd of April 2006. The Temptations are, probably, the most enduring, hardworking and successful group in Soul Music.
- Meet The Temptations (Gordy 1964)
- The Temptations Sing Smokey (Gordy 1965)
- The Temptin' Temptations (Gordy 1965)
- Gettin' Ready (Gordy 1966)
- Temptations Live! (Gordy 1967)
- With A Lot O'Soul (Gordy 1967)
- The Temptations In A Mellow Mood (Gordy 1967)
- Wish It Would Rain (Gordy 1968)
- with Diana Ross And The Supremes: Diana Ross And The Supremes join The Temptations (Motown 1968)
- with Diana Ross And The Supremes: TCB (Motown 1968)
- Live At The Copa (Gordy 1968)
- Cloud Nine (Gordy 1969)
- The Temptations Show (Gordy 1969)
- Puzzle People (Gordy 1969)
- with Diana Ross And The Supremes: Together (Motown 1969)
- with Diana Ross And The Supremes: On Broadway (Motown 1969)
- Psychedelic Shack (Gordy 1970)
- Live At London's Talk Of The Town (Gordy 1970)
- The Temptations Christmas Card (Gordy 1970)
- Sky's The Limit (Gordy 1971)
- Solid Rock (Gordy 1972)
- All Directions (Gordy 1972)
- Masterpiece (Gordy 1973)
- In Japan (1973)
- 1990 (Gordy 1973)
- A Song For You (Gordy 1975)
- House Party (Gordy 1975)
- Wings Of Love (Gordy 1976)
- The Temptations Do The Temptations (Gordy 1976)
- Hear To Tempt You (Atlantic 1977)
- Bare Back (Atlantic 1978)
- Power (Gordy 1980)
- Give Love At Christmas (Gordy 1980)
- The Temptations (Gordy 1981)
- with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks: Reunion (Gordy 1982)
- Surface Thrills (Gordy 1983)
- Back To Basics (Gordy 1984)
- Truly For You (Gordy 1984)
- Touch Me (Gordy 1985)
- To Be Continued ... (Gordy 1986)
- Together Again (Motown 1987)
- Special (Motown 1989)
- Milestone (Motown 1991)
- For Lovers Only (1995)
- Phoenix Rising (Motown 1998)
- Live at San Pablo (2000)
- Ear-resistable (Motown 2000)
- Awesome (Motown 2001)
- Legacy (Motown 2004)
- Reflections (Motown 2006)
- Back to Front (2007)
- Still Here (2010)
- Just Let Me Know (1964)
- It's Growing (1965)
- Greatest Hits Vol 1 & 2
- Classic Soul Hits
- Emperors Of Soul (5 CD boxset)
- Temptations Gold
- All I Need Is My Girl (Gordy, Motown & Atlantic 45s)
- "Ball Of Confusion"
- "The Temptations" TV series soundtrack
- Don't Look Any Further (Gordy 1984)
- Coolin' Out (Gordy 1985)
- Essential Collection
- Don't Look Any Further (Feat. Siegah Garrett) (1984)
- Don't 'Look Any Further [12" Single] (1984)
- Don't Look Any Further [Remix] (2008)
Special Thanks To
Bentley Funk, Never Enough Rhodes, Funk Classic Master, Boogie Palace, Baia boy, Fullundie, The Crooner's Corner, Oloraviejo, Avax, A Small Selection of Whatever Fills My Head, Love in the Ghetto, Taringa and ZAND.