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The Temptations

The Temptations

Overview
The Temptations is an American vocal group having achieved fame as one of the most successful acts to record for Motown Records
Motown Records
Motown is a record label originally founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. and incorporated as Motown Record Corporation in Detroit, Michigan, United States, on April 14, 1960. The name, a portmanteau of motor and town, is also a nickname for Detroit...

. The group's repertoire has included, at various times during its five-decade career, R&B
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

, doo-wop
Doo-wop
The name Doo-wop is given to a style of vocal-based rhythm and blues music that developed in African American communities in the 1940s and achieved mainstream popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s. It emerged from New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, Newark, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and...

, funk, disco
Disco
Disco is a genre of dance music. Disco acts charted high during the mid-1970s, and the genre's popularity peaked during the late 1970s. It had its roots in clubs that catered to African American, gay, psychedelic, and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and...

, soul
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

, and adult contemporary music
Adult contemporary music
Adult contemporary music is a broad style of popular music that ranges from lush 1950s and 1960s vocal music to predominantly ballad-heavy music with varying degrees of rock influence, as well as a radio format that plays such music....

.

Formed in Detroit, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, in 1960 as The Elgins (not to be confused with another Motown group with the same name), the Temptations have always featured at least five male vocalists/dancers.
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Encyclopedia
The Temptations is an American vocal group having achieved fame as one of the most successful acts to record for Motown Records
Motown Records
Motown is a record label originally founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. and incorporated as Motown Record Corporation in Detroit, Michigan, United States, on April 14, 1960. The name, a portmanteau of motor and town, is also a nickname for Detroit...

. The group's repertoire has included, at various times during its five-decade career, R&B
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

, doo-wop
Doo-wop
The name Doo-wop is given to a style of vocal-based rhythm and blues music that developed in African American communities in the 1940s and achieved mainstream popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s. It emerged from New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, Newark, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and...

, funk, disco
Disco
Disco is a genre of dance music. Disco acts charted high during the mid-1970s, and the genre's popularity peaked during the late 1970s. It had its roots in clubs that catered to African American, gay, psychedelic, and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and...

, soul
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

, and adult contemporary music
Adult contemporary music
Adult contemporary music is a broad style of popular music that ranges from lush 1950s and 1960s vocal music to predominantly ballad-heavy music with varying degrees of rock influence, as well as a radio format that plays such music....

.

Formed in Detroit, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, in 1960 as The Elgins (not to be confused with another Motown group with the same name), the Temptations have always featured at least five male vocalists/dancers. Known for its recognizable choreography, distinct harmonies, and flashy onstage suits, the Temptations have been said to be as influential to soul as The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

 are to pop
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

 and rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

. Having sold tens of millions of albums, the Temptations are one of the most successful groups in music history. , the Temptations continue to perform and record for Universal Records
Universal Records
Universal Records was a record label owned by Universal Music Group, and it is now owned by Manny Patino and Michael Jackson, and operated as part of the Universal Motown Republic Group.-History:...

 with its one living original member, Otis Williams
Otis Williams
Otis Williams is an American baritone singer. Nicknamed "Big Daddy", he has also acted as a sporadic songwriter and record producer. Williams co-founded the Motown vocal group The Temptations in early 1960 as The Elgins, a group in which he continues to perform...

, still in its lineup.

The original lineup included members of two local Detroit vocal groups: from The Distants, second tenor
Tenor
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...

 Otis Williams
Otis Williams
Otis Williams is an American baritone singer. Nicknamed "Big Daddy", he has also acted as a sporadic songwriter and record producer. Williams co-founded the Motown vocal group The Temptations in early 1960 as The Elgins, a group in which he continues to perform...

, first tenor Elbridge "Al" Bryant
Elbridge Bryant
Elbridge "Al" Bryant was an American tenor singer, and one of the founding members of Motown singing group The Temptations.-Early life and career:...

, and bass
Bass (voice type)
A bass is a type of male singing voice and possesses the lowest vocal range of all voice types. According to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, a bass is typically classified as having a range extending from around the second E below middle C to the E above middle C...

 Melvin Franklin
Melvin Franklin
David Melvin English better known by the stage name Melvin Franklin, was an American bass singer. Franklin is best known for his role as a member of Motown singing group The Temptations from 1960 to 1994....

; and from The Primes, first tenor/falsetto
Falsetto
Falsetto is the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave. It is produced by the vibration of the ligamentous edges of the vocal folds, in whole or in part...

 Eddie Kendricks
Eddie Kendricks
Eddie Kendricks was an American singer and songwriter. Noted for his distinctive falsetto singing style, Kendricks co-founded the Motown singing group The Temptations, and was one of their lead singers from 1960 until 1971. His was the lead voice on such famous songs as "The Way You Do The Things...

 and second tenor/baritone
Baritone
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

 Paul Williams
Paul Williams (The Temptations)
Paul Williams was an American baritone singer and choreographer. Williams is noted for being one of the founding members and original lead singer of the Motown group The Temptations...

 (no relation to Otis). Among the most notable future Temptations were lead singers David Ruffin
David Ruffin
Davis Eli "David" Ruffin was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of the Temptations from 1964 to 1968...

 and Dennis Edwards
Dennis Edwards
Dennis Edwards is a soul and R&B singer, most noted for being one of Motown act The Temptations' lead singers replacing David Ruffin. He is the father of Issa Pointer, whose mother is Ruth Pointer of The Pointer Sisters.-Career:...

 (both later solo artists), Richard Street
Richard Street
Richard Allen Street is an American soul and R&B singer, most notable as a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1993...

, Damon Harris
Damon Harris
Damon Harris is a three-time Grammy Award-winning African-American soul and R&B singer. He is most notable as a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1975. Twenty years old when he joined the group, Harris was the youngest member of The Temptations during his tenure in the group...

, Glenn Leonard
Glenn Leonard
Glenn Carl Leonard is an American R&B and soul singer best remembered for serving as the first tenor/secondary lead singer of the Motown quintet The Temptations from 1975 to 1983.-Biography:...

, Ron Tyson
Ron Tyson
Ron Tyson is an American tenor/falsetto singer and songwriter. Tyson is the current tenor for long-lived singing group The Temptations, filling the role made famous by Eddie Kendricks in the 1960s.-Biography:...

, Ali-Ollie Woodson
Ali-Ollie Woodson
Ali-Ollie Woodson was an American R&B singer, songwriter, keyboardist and occasional actor. He was known for singing with The Temptations beginning in 1984, and also worked with Aretha Franklin and Bill Pinkney....

, Theo Peoples
Theo Peoples
Theo Peoples is an African-American R&B/soul singer. The son of a preacher, he was discovered by Ron Tyson and tapped to replace Richard Street in the long-lived Motown group The Temptations in 1992.His first recordings with the group were released in the box set Emperors of Soul where he sang lead...

, and G. C. Cameron
G. C. Cameron
George Curtis "G.C." Cameron is an American soul and R&B singer. G.C. is credited with having "six different voices."-The Spinners:...

. Like its "sister" female group, the Supremes
The Supremes
The Supremes, an American female singing group, were the premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s.Originally founded as The Primettes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959, The Supremes' repertoire included doo-wop, pop, soul, Broadway show tunes, psychedelic soul, and disco...

, the Temptations' lineup has changed frequently over the years.

Over the course of their career, the Temptations have released four Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

 number-one singles and 14 Billboard R&B number-one singles
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, is a chart released weekly by Billboard in the United States.The chart, initiated in 1942, is used to track the success of popular music songs in urban, or primarily African American, venues. Dominated over the years at various times by jazz, rhythm and blues, doo-wop, soul,...

. Their material has earned them three Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

s, while two more awards were conferred upon the songwriter
Songwriter
A songwriter is an individual who writes both the lyrics and music to a song. Someone who solely writes lyrics may be called a lyricist, and someone who only writes music may be called a composer...

s and producers
Record producer
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of an artist's music...

 who crafted their 1972 hit "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
"Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" is a soul song, written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong as a single for Motown act The Undisputed Truth in 1971...

". The Temptations were the first Motown act to earn a Grammy Award. Six Temptations (Dennis Edwards, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, David Ruffin, Otis Williams, and Paul Williams) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

 in 1989. Three classic Temptations songs, "My Girl", "Ain't Too Proud to Beg
Ain't Too Proud to Beg
"Ain't Too Proud to Beg" is a 1966 song and hit single by The Temptations for Motown Records' Gordy label, produced by Norman Whitfield and written by Whitfield and Edward Holland, Jr. The song peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Pop Chart, and was a number-one hit on the Billboard R&B charts for...

", and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
"Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" is a soul song, written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong as a single for Motown act The Undisputed Truth in 1971...

", are among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

The Primes


Childhood friends Eddie Kendricks
Eddie Kendricks
Eddie Kendricks was an American singer and songwriter. Noted for his distinctive falsetto singing style, Kendricks co-founded the Motown singing group The Temptations, and was one of their lead singers from 1960 until 1971. His was the lead voice on such famous songs as "The Way You Do The Things...

, Paul Williams
Paul Williams (The Temptations)
Paul Williams was an American baritone singer and choreographer. Williams is noted for being one of the founding members and original lead singer of the Motown group The Temptations...

, Kell Osborne
Kell Osborne
Kell Osborne is an American singer best known as a member of The Primes a group which would later be known as The Temptations.-Early years:...

, and Wiley Waller formed a doo-wop group called the Cavaliers in their hometown of Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

, in 1955. Reduced to a trio after Waller left the group in 1957, Kendricks, Williams, and Osbourne left Birmingham in order to break into the music business. After first moving to Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

, they settled in Detroit. The Primes, as the doo-wop trio was now called, were well-known around Detroit for their meticulous performances. Group manager Milton Jenkins even created a sister group for the Primes called the Primettes, who later became the legendary Supremes, recruiting Florence Ballard
Florence Ballard
Florence Glenda Ballard Chapman was an American singer and a founding member of the Motown group The Supremes. From 1963 until 1967, Ballard sang on 16 Top 40 hit Supremes' singles, ten of which hit number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1967, Motown CEO Berry Gordy decided to remove Ballard from...

, Mary Wilson
Mary Wilson (singer)
Mary Wilson is an American singer, formerlymember of the Motown female singing group The Supremes during the 1960s and 1970s. Wilson was the only singer to be a consistent member of the group in its eighteen-year tenure...

, Diane (later Diana) Ross
Diana Ross
Diana Ernestine Earle Ross is an American singer, record producer, and actress. Ross was lead singer of the Motown group The Supremes during the 1960s. After leaving the group in 1970, Ross began a solo career that included successful ventures into film and Broadway...

, and Betty McGlown
Betty McGlown
Betty McGlown-Travis is an African American singer, a member of The Primettes, later known as The Supremes.In 1959, McGlown started dating future Temptations member Paul Williams who was then singing with the Primes...

 for the spin-off act. Eddie Kendricks was already becoming a local "Matinee Idol", and Paul Williams was known for his powerful baritone voice, having an adult style even as a teenager.

The Distants


Otis Williams had moved from his native Texarkana, Texas to Detroit as a young boy, to live with his mother. By 1958, he was the leader of Otis Williams & the Siberians, a doo-wop group that included Williams, his friend Elbridge "Al" Bryant, James "Pee-Wee" Crawford, Vernard Plain, and Arthur Walton. This quintet recorded the single "Pecos Kid/Have Gun Will Travel" backed with "All of My Life" for a label run by local radio deejay Senator Bristol Bryant. The single never took off outside the local Detroit market, and the Siberians changed their name to The El Domingoes shortly afterward.

At this time, more changes took place. Montgomery, Alabama
Montgomery, Alabama
Montgomery is the capital of the U.S. state of Alabama, and is the county seat of Montgomery County. It is located on the Alabama River southeast of the center of the state, in the Gulf Coastal Plain. As of the 2010 census, Montgomery had a population of 205,764 making it the second-largest city...

 native Melvin Franklin
Melvin Franklin
David Melvin English better known by the stage name Melvin Franklin, was an American bass singer. Franklin is best known for his role as a member of Motown singing group The Temptations from 1960 to 1994....

 replaced Arthur Walton as the bass singer and Franklin's cousin, Detroit-born Richard Street
Richard Street
Richard Allen Street is an American soul and R&B singer, most notable as a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1993...

, replaced Vernard Plain as lead singer. The group soon signed with Northern Records, run by Johnnie Mae Matthews
Johnnie Mae Matthews
Johnnie Mae Matthews was an American blues and R&B singer, songwriter, and record producer from Bessemer, Alabama...

, who renamed the group The Distants. The Distants recorded two singles for Northern, "Come On" (1959, featuring additional background vocals by the Andantes
The Andantes
The Andantes were a prolific female sessions group for the Motown record label during the 1960s. Composed of Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps, the group sang background vocals on numerous Motown recordings, including songs by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, The Temptations, Stevie...

), and "Alright" (1960). Between these two releases, Albert "Mooch" Harrell replaced Pee-Wee Crawford. "Come On" was a local hit for the Distants, and the Warwick label picked the record up for national distribution. After the release of "Alright", Matthews appointed Williams the group leader, and the group was renamed Otis Williams & the Distants. Though Otis Williams had a pleasant, but unremarkable, lead voice, he organized the group and so became the defacto leader, as he would later with the Temptations.

Influences and colleagues


The Primes and the Distants were influenced by several Detroit groups, the most famous of which was the Miracles
The Miracles
The Miracles are an American rhythm and blues group from Detroit, Michigan, notable as the first successful group act for Berry Gordy's Motown Record Corporation . Their single "Shop Around" was Motown's first million-selling hit record, and the group went on to become one of Motown's signature...

 led by Smokey Robinson
Smokey Robinson
William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr. is an American R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, and former record executive. Robinson is one of the primary figures associated with Motown, second only to the company's founder, Berry Gordy...

. The Miracles were known for their stage show, and their pop success was something for which both groups strived. Other important inspirations included the Cadillacs
The Cadillacs
The Cadillacs were an American rock and roll and doo-wop group from Harlem, New York; active from 1953 to 1962. The group was noted for their 1955 hit "Speedoo", which was instrumental in attracting White audiences to Black rock and roll performers.-History:...

, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
The Teenagers
The Teenagers are an American integrated doo wop group, most noted for being one of rock music's earliest successes, presented to international audiences by DJ Alan Freed...

, the Drifters
The Drifters
The Drifters are a long-lived American doo-wop and R&B/soul vocal group with a peak in popularity from 1953 to 1963, though several splinter Drifters continue to perform today. They were originally formed to serve as Clyde McPhatter's backing group in 1953...

, and the Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers are a highly influential, successful and long-running American music group consisting of different line-ups of six brothers, and a brother-in-law, Chris Jasper...

.

The various members of the Primes and the Distants, who would later become part of the Temptations, met a number of their future Motown bandmates, labelmates, and producers during the early part of their careers. Melvin Franklin had been a member of the recording group the Voice Masters, which also included among its ranks Lamont Dozier
Lamont Dozier
Lamont Herbert Dozier is an American songwriter and record producer, born in Detroit, Michigan. Dozier has either co-written or produced several US Billboard #1 hits.-Career:...

, his cousin David Ruffin
David Ruffin
Davis Eli "David" Ruffin was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of the Temptations from 1964 to 1968...

, and another cousin, Jackie Wilson
Jackie Wilson
Jack Leroy "Jackie" Wilson, Jr. was an American singer and performer. Known as "Mr. Excitement", Wilson was important in the transition of rhythm and blues into soul. He was known as a master showman, and as one of the most dynamic singers and performers in R&B and rock history...

. The musicians at the recording session for the Distants' "Come On" included James Jamerson
James Jamerson
James Lee Jamerson was an American bass player. He was the uncredited bassist on most of Motown Records' hits in the 1960s and early 1970s , and he is now regarded as one of the most influential bass players in modern music history...

 on bass
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

, the Andantes
The Andantes
The Andantes were a prolific female sessions group for the Motown record label during the 1960s. Composed of Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps, the group sang background vocals on numerous Motown recordings, including songs by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, The Temptations, Stevie...

 on background vocals, and future Temptations producer Norman Whitfield
Norman Whitfield
Norman Jesse Whitfield was an American songwriter and producer, best known for his work with Berry Gordy's Motown label during the 1960s...

 on tambourine
Tambourine
The tambourine or marine is a musical instrument of the percussion family consisting of a frame, often of wood or plastic, with pairs of small metal jingles, called "zils". Classically the term tambourine denotes an instrument with a drumhead, though some variants may not have a head at all....

.

Forming the Temptations



Although "Come On" was a local hit in the Detroit area, the Distants never saw much from record sales, and the second single was not as successful. After receiving an offer from Berry Gordy, Jr. of Motown Records
Motown Records
Motown is a record label originally founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. and incorporated as Motown Record Corporation in Detroit, Michigan, United States, on April 14, 1960. The name, a portmanteau of motor and town, is also a nickname for Detroit...

, the group got out of its contract with Matthews and left Northern. At the same time, it lost Mooch Harrell, Richard Street, and the rights to use its name. Street would front a new group of Distants on the local Thelma label during the early 1960s.

The Distants were acquainted with the Primes, as both groups made the same types of talent shows, and concerts. The two groups were friendly rivals, with the Primes being the more polished and stronger vocal performers. The Primes disbanded in 1960 when Kell Osborne moved to California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, and Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams returned to Alabama. While in Detroit visiting relatives, Kendricks called Otis Williams who, desperately needing two more members for an audition for Gordy, offered Kendricks a lead singer place in the Distants. Kendricks agreed, with one condition—that he could bring Paul Williams with him. Otis Williams happily agreed, and Kendricks and Paul Williams moved back to Detroit to join the new group.

The new lineup of Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Elbridge "Al" Bryant, Eddie Kendricks, and Paul Williams took on the name The Elgins and auditioned for Motown in March 1961. As Gordy was already familiar with Kendricks and Williams from sessions they had done before he had formed Motown, upon which they had lent their talents as backup singers, he then agreed to sign the group to his Miracle Records label. However, just before signing The Elgins to Motown's Miracle Records, Berry Gordy discovered that there was already a singing group with that name. The quintet quickly began tossing about ideas for a new name on the steps of Motown's Hitsville U.S.A.
Hitsville U.S.A.
"Hitsville U.S.A." is the nickname given to Motown's first headquarters. A former photographers' studio located at 2648 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan, it was purchased by Motown founder Berry Gordy in 1959 and converted into both the record label's administrative building and recording...

 headquarters and studio. On a suggestion from Miracle Records employee Billy Mitchell, songwriter Mickey Stevenson, and group members Otis Williams and Paul Williams, The Temptations became the group's new moniker. The "Elgins" name would re-surface at Motown in 1965, when Gordy renamed a quartet called The Downbeats as The Elgins
The Elgins
The Elgins were an American vocal group on the Motown label, active from the late 1950s to 1967. Their most successful record was "Heaven Must Have Sent You", written and produced by the Holland-Dozier-Holland team, which was a hit in the US in 1966, and in the UK when reissued in...

.

Before the Miracle label was closed (to avoid confusion with the Miracles singing group) and merged with the Gordy label, The Temptations released two singles, "Oh Mother of Mine
Oh Mother of Mine
"Oh Mother of Mine" is a 1961 song that was released as a Miracle label single by Motown singing group The Temptations. It was the group's debut single for Motown, after signing with them in January of that year.-Credits:...

" and "Check Yourself
Check Yourself
"Check Yourself" is a 1961 song that was released as a Miracle label single by Motown singing group The Temptations; and written by Motown president Berry Gordy, and group members Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin and Elbridge Bryant, and produced by Gordy...

" featuring Paul Williams' powerful lead. All seven of the Temptations' singles released between 1961 and 1963 failed to make it onto the U.S. Hot 100 pop singles chart; the two exceptions to missing all the U.S. charts was "Dream Come True", a single featuring Eddie Kendricks on lead, which made it to #22 on the R&B chart in 1962, and the Kendricks-led follow up "Paradise", which reached #22 on the Bubbling Under charts later that year. The group became known as one of the most talented and versatile groups in the country. Paul and Eddie split the leads during this period, with Eddie becoming the standard for all first tenor/falsetto singers. Al Bryant, Otis Williams, and Franklin occasionally sang lead, but the signature sound was the Kendricks/Williams duo.

Many songwriter
Songwriter
A songwriter is an individual who writes both the lyrics and music to a song. Someone who solely writes lyrics may be called a lyricist, and someone who only writes music may be called a composer...

 and producer
Record producer
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of an artist's music...

 teams had been trying to craft a hit for the Temptations, including Berry Gordy, Mickey Stevenson, Clarence Paul, and Norman Whitfield. They tried to take the group in several different directions, all in order to find the perfect sound that would put them not only on the U.S. charts (both Pop and R&B), but in the Top 20 as well. One song "Isn't She Pretty
Isn't She Pretty
"Isn't She Pretty" is a 1961 song recorded by The Temptations, and written by group members Eddie Kendricks and Otis Williams, as well as Motown’s founder Berry Gordy...

" had all five members singing lead (and mainly showcased the lead vocals of ‘Al’ Bryant) and it was a precursor to the multi-lead songs the group would record in the late 60's. The idea of having the group change their name to "The Pirates" was briefly discussed, and they would even record "Mind Over Matter" and "I'll Love You Till I Die" under this name, but to no avail.

In fact, Gordy had originally written "Do You Love Me
Do You Love Me
"Do You Love Me" is a 1962 hit single recorded by The Contours for Motown's Gordy Records label. Written and produced by Motown CEO Berry Gordy, Jr., "Do You Love Me?" was the Contours' only Top 40 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. Notably, the record achieved this feat...

" for the Temptations in 1961, but when he was unable to get a hold of the group, he recorded the song instead with another Motown-family group, the Contours
The Contours
The Contours were one of the early African-American soul singing groups signed to Motown Records.The group is best known for its Billboard Top 10 hit, "Do You Love Me," a million-selling song that peaked twice in the Top 20....

. William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr.
Smokey Robinson
William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr. is an American R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, and former record executive. Robinson is one of the primary figures associated with Motown, second only to the company's founder, Berry Gordy...

, lead singer/songwriter and producer of The Miracles proved to have the best rapport with the group and produced his first Temptations single, "I Want a Love I Can See
I Want a Love I Can See
"I Want a Love I Can See" is a 1963 single by The Temptations for the Gordy label. The single was the group's first A-side to be written and produced by Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson. Robinson had previously written the B-side "Slow Down Heart", but for over the past year Berry Gordy, Jr...

" in 1963, featuring Paul Williams on lead. Despite their best efforts, however, the group was still unsuccessful in landing in the desired spot on any of the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts in the U.S. As a result, the other acts at Motown would soon give the nickname "The Hitless Temptations" to the group.

About this time, David Ruffin
David Ruffin
Davis Eli "David" Ruffin was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of the Temptations from 1964 to 1968...

, younger brother of Motown artist Jimmy Ruffin
Jimmy Ruffin
Jimmy Ruffin is an American soul singer, and elder brother of the late David Ruffin of The Temptations. He had several hit records between the 1960s and 1980s, the most successful being "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted."-Life:...

, demonstrated his superior performance skills when he joined the Temptations on-stage during a local Detroit performance. Elbridge Bryant soon became restless and uncooperative, preferring the mundane routine of his day job as a milkman
Milkman
A milkman is a person, traditionally male, who delivers milk in milk bottles or cartons. Milk deliveries frequently occur in the morning and it is not uncommon for milkmen to deliver products other than milk such as eggs, cream, cheese, butter, yogurt or soft drinks...

 over the rigors of rehearsal and performing. After a heated quarrel following a disastrous performance at the 1963 Motown company Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

/New Years Eve party, Bryant was summarily fired from the group. As a result, David Ruffin
David Ruffin
Davis Eli "David" Ruffin was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of the Temptations from 1964 to 1968...

 was brought in as his replacement in the early part of 1964. Though both Ruffin brothers were considered for the slot, David was selected due to his superior performance at the local Detroit performance earlier that year. Bryant continued to perform in a number of other local groups, and died at the age of 36 in Flagler County, Florida
Flagler County, Florida
Flagler County was created in 1917 from portions of Saint Johns and Volusia counties. It was named for Henry Morrison Flagler, a famous railroad builder who built the Florida East Coast Railway. Bunnell is the county seat of Flagler County....

 of liver cirrhosis on October 26, 1975.

The "Classic Five" Era



In January 1964
1964 in music
-Events:*January 1 – Top of the Pops is broadcast for the first time, on BBC television.*January 3 – Footage of the Beatles performing a concert in Bournemouth, England is shown on The Jack Paar Show....

, Smokey Robinson and Miracles bandmate Bobby Rogers
Bobby Rogers
Bobby Rogers is an American soul singer and songwriter, notable as a member of Motown Records' first signed act and first million selling group The Miracles from 1956 to present. He is also the grandfather of R&B singer Brandi Williams from R&B girl group Blaque-Life:Rogers is the son of the late...

 co-wrote and produced "The Way You Do the Things You Do
The Way You Do the Things You Do
"The Way You Do the Things You Do" was covered in 1989 by the band UB40. It was the sixth single from their 1989 album Labour of Love II. The song was released in 1989 in the major of the European countries .-Track listings:7"-Single...

" with Eddie Kendricks on lead and the single became the Temptations' first Top 20 hit that April.

Shortly afterward, "The Way You Do The Things You Do" and several pre-David Ruffin singles were compiled into the group's first album, Meet The Temptations
Meet the Temptations
Meet the Temptations is the 1964 debut album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. It includes most of the group's early singles except for the first, "Oh Mother of Mine", and its b-side, "Romance Without Finance" ; as well as the single "Mind Over Matter" , in which the group is...

, released in early 1964. The next two Temptations singles in 1964, "Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)
Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)
"Girl " is a 1964 hit single by The Temptations for the Gordy label. It was the group’s first A-side release to be produced by Norman Whitfield, who co-wrote the song with Edward Holland, Jr. of the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team...

" along with "I'll Be in Trouble
I'll Be in Trouble
"I'll Be in Trouble" is a 1964 hit single by The Temptations for the Gordy label. Written by Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson, the single was a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 33....

" and its B-side "The Girl's Alright With Me
The Girl's Alright with Me
"The Girl's Alright with Me" is a 1964 song recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy label. The B-side to their Top 40 hit "I'll Be in Trouble", the song was also able to chart on its own, peaking at number 102 on Billboard Pop Charts...

", all featured Kendricks on lead. However, producer Smokey Robinson saw potential in the "mellow" yet "gruff" voice of David Ruffin, and thought that if he could write the perfect song for his lead, then the group could have a Top 10 smash hit.

While traveling as part of Motown's Motortown Revue
Motortown Revue
The Motortown Revue was the name given to the package concert tours of Motown artists in the 1960s. Early tours featured Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Mary Wells, The Marvelettes, Barrett Strong, and The Contours as headlining acts, and gave then-second-tier acts such as Marvin Gaye, Martha & The...

 later that year, Robinson and fellow Miracles member Ronnie White wrote "My Girl", which the Temptations recorded in the fall of 1964 with Ruffin singing his first lead vocal for the group. Released as a single on December 21, 1964, the song became the Temptations' first number-one pop hit in March 1965
1965 in music
-Events:*January 4 – Fender Musical Instruments Corporation is sold to CBS for $13 million.*January 12 – Hullabaloo premieres on NBC. The first show included performances by The New Christy Minstrels, comedian Woody Allen, actress Joey Heatherton and a segment from London in which Brian Epstein...

, and is their signature song to this day.

After the success of "My Girl", Ruffin sang lead on the next three singles: "It's Growing
It's Growing
"It's Growing" is a 1965 hit single by The Temptations for the Gordy label. Written by Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Pete Moore and produced by Robinson, the song was a top 20 pop single on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, on which it peaked at number 18...

", "Since I Lost My Baby
Since I Lost My Baby
"Since I Lost My Baby" is a 1965 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Motown Records' Gordy label. Written by Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Pete Moore and produced by Robinson, the song was a top 20 pop single on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, on which it peaked at...

" and "My Baby
My Baby (Temptations song)
"My Baby" is a 1965 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy label. Written by Miracles members Smokey Robinson, Ronnie White, and Pete Moore and produced by Robinson, the song was a top 20 pop hit in the United States, and a top 5 hit on the R&B charts.An extension of the theme from...

", all of which made it to the Top 20 in 1965. The B-side to "My Baby", "Don’t Look Back", featured a stirring lead from Paul Williams, and was a sleeper hit
Sleeper hit
A sleeper hit, a.k.a. surprise hit , refers to a film, book, single, album, TV show, or video game that gains unexpected success or recognition...

 on the R&B charts and a standard for vocal groups playlists.

Norman Whitfield had requested the opportunity to write for the group and in 1966, Berry Gordy promised him that if Robinson's "Get Ready", with Eddie Kendricks on lead, failed to chart in the Top 20, Whitfield would be allowed to produce the next song. "Get Ready" subsequently missed its mark, and Gordy issued the Whitfield-produced "Ain't Too Proud to Beg
Ain't Too Proud to Beg
"Ain't Too Proud to Beg" is a 1966 song and hit single by The Temptations for Motown Records' Gordy label, produced by Norman Whitfield and written by Whitfield and Edward Holland, Jr. The song peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Pop Chart, and was a number-one hit on the Billboard R&B charts for...

", with David Ruffin on lead, as the next single. "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" outperformed "Get Ready" on the Billboard charts, and Whitfield became the Temptations' new main producer. He began pulling the group away from the ballad
Ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

-based productions espoused by Robinson, toward a harder-edged and brass
Brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...

-heavy soul sound reminiscent of James Brown.

Nearly all of the singles produced by Whitfield prior to 1968 featured David Ruffin on lead, including the R&B number-one/pop Top 10 hits "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
Beauty is Only Skin Deep
"Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" is a 1966 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy label. Written by Norman Whitfield and Edward Holland, Jr., and produced by Whitfield, the song was a number three pop hit and a number one R&B hit in the United States.The song's theme is inner beauty, and...

", "(I Know) I'm Losing You
(I Know) I'm Losing You
" I'm Losing You" is a 1966 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy label and produced by Norman Whitfield.- History :...

" and the early 1967 hit "(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need
(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need
" It's You That I Need" is a 1967 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy label and produced by Norman Whitfield. This is one of the small handful of pre-psychedelic era songs the group recorded that had more than two members singing lead at one point, and the only one that charted...

". Other important singles from this period include "All I Need
All I Need (The Temptations song)
"All I Need" is a 1967 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy label. It is the group's first single to be produced by Norman Whitfield's protégé Frank Wilson. Written by Wilson, Edward Holland, Jr. and R...

", produced by Frank Wilson
Frank Wilson (musician)
Frank Wilson is an African American former songwriter and record producer for Motown Records.-Biography:He was born to James Wilson and Samantha Gibbs...

, a Whitfield protégé, and the "You're My Everything", on which Kendricks and Ruffin share lead. Studio albums during the "Classic Five" period apart from Meet The Temptations include The Temptations Sing Smokey
The Temptations Sing Smokey
The Temptations Sing Smokey is a 1965 album by The Temptations for the label. As its name implies, it is composed entirely of songs written and produced by Smokey Robinson, and several other members of the Miracles as well....

(1965), The Temptin' Temptations
The Temptin' Temptations
The Temptin' Temptations is a 1965 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. The album includes several of the group's hits from 1965, and also includes a handful of singles that were not included on the Temptations' first 1965 album, The Temptations Sing Smokey...

(1965), Gettin' Ready
Gettin' Ready
Gettin' Ready is a 1966 album by The Temptations for the label. It marks the transition of the group from having Smokey Robinson as its main producer, with new producer Norman Whitfield taking over Robinson's position...

(1966), The Temptations with a Lot o' Soul
The Temptations with a Lot o' Soul
The Temptations with a Lot 'o Soul is a 1967 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. Featuring four hit singles, With a Lot o' Soul is the most successful Temptations album from their "classic 5" era, during which David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis...

(1967), and The Temptations Wish It Would Rain
The Temptations Wish It Would Rain
The Temptations Wish It Would Rain is a 1968 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. It was the final release from the group's "Classic-5" era, during which David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams constituted the Temptations' lineup.Wish It Would...

(1968).

During this period, the various songwriting partners of Norman Whitfield included Roger Penzabene
Roger Penzabene
Roger Penzabene was a songwriter for the Motown label. Among his most notable compositions are "The End of Our Road" by Gladys Knight & the Pips and Marvin Gaye, and a trilogy of hits for the Temptations: "You're My Everything", "I Wish It Would Rain", and "I Could Never Love Another ".The...

, Edward Holland, Jr.
Edward Holland, Jr.
Edward Holland, Jr. is an American singer, songwriter and record producer....

 and Temptations road show manager and guitarist Cornelius Grant
Cornelius Grant
Cornelius Grant was born April 27, 1943 in Fairfield, Texas, a small town 80 miles south of Dallas. Raised by his grandmother, who he adored, he taught himself how to play guitar at the age of nine. When he was 13, his family moved to Detroit....

. Subsequently, Barrett Strong
Barrett Strong
Barrett Strong is an American singer and songwriter. Strong was the first artist to record a hit for Motown, although he is best remembered for his work as a songwriter, particularly in association with producer Norman Whitfield.-His career:Strong was among the first artists signed to Berry...

, who sang the very first hit at Motown in 1959, "Money (That's What I Want)
Money (That's What I Want)
"Money " is a 1959 hit single by Barrett Strong for the Tamla label, distributed nationally on Anna Records. The song was written by Tamla founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford, and became the first hit record for Gordy's Motown enterprise....

", began working with Whitfield and Penzabene on Temptations material after Eddie Holland left Motown with the rest of the Holland-Dozier-Holland
Holland-Dozier-Holland
Holland–Dozier–Holland is a songwriting and production team made up of Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian Holland and Edward Holland, Jr. They are considered to be one of the greatest songwriting teams in popular music...

 songwriting/production team in 1967. Two of the Whitfield-Strong-Penzabene collaborations, "I Wish It Would Rain
I Wish It Would Rain
"I Wish It Would Rain" is a 1967 song recorded by the Temptations for the Motown label and produced by Norman Whitfield.-Background:...

" and "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)
I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)
"I Could Never Love Another " is a single recorded by The Temptations and released on Motown Records' Gordy label during the spring of 1968...

", became hits in early 1968 after the untimely suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 of Roger Penzabene in December 1967. Subsequently, Barrett Strong became the sole collaborator of Norman Whitfield.

Exit David Ruffin, enter Dennis Edwards


From early 1964 to mid 1968, the Temptations went from unknown hopefuls to international stars and as a result, appeared frequently on television shows such as American Bandstand
American Bandstand
American Bandstand is an American music-performance show that aired in various versions from 1952 to 1989 and was hosted from 1956 until its final season by Dick Clark, who also served as producer...

and The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show is an American TV variety show that originally ran on CBS from Sunday June 20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan....

. At the same time, the group began to achieve a crossover success, catering to middle America with a pop standards album (The Temptations in a Mellow Mood
The Temptations in a Mellow Mood
The Temptations in a Mellow Mood is a 1967 album by The Temptations for the Motown label. Composed primarily of pop standards such as "Ol' Man River" and "For Once in My Life", and similar songs written by Holland-Dozier-Holland and other Motown staff songwriters, the Mellow Mood album was part of...

, 1967), the success of which resulted in performances at the famous Copacabana
Copacabana (nightclub)
The Copacabana is a famous New York City nightclub. Many entertainers, among them Danny Thomas, Pat Cooper and the comedy team of Martin and Lewis, made their debuts at the Copacabana. The 1978 Barry Manilow song "Copacabana" is named after, and is about the nightclub. Part of the 2003 Yerba...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 along with dates at other similar supper clubs. Outside of music, the Temptations were made honorary members of Phi Beta Sigma
Phi Beta Sigma
Phi Beta Sigma is a predominantly African-American fraternity which was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 1914, by three young African-American male students. The founders A. Langston Taylor, Leonard F. Morse, and Charles I...

 fraternity.

By 1967, David Ruffin had begun demanding special treatment as lead singer. Riding to and from gigs in a private mink
Mink
There are two living species referred to as "mink": the European Mink and the American Mink. The extinct Sea Mink is related to the American Mink, but was much larger. All three species are dark-colored, semi-aquatic, carnivorous mammals of the family Mustelidae, which also includes the weasels and...

-lined limousine
Limousine
A limousine is a luxury sedan or saloon car, especially one with a lengthened wheelbase or driven by a chauffeur. The chassis of a limousine may have been extended by the manufacturer or by an independent coachbuilder. These are called "stretch" limousines and are traditionally black or white....

 with his then-girlfriend, Motown singer Tammi Terrell
Tammi Terrell
Thomasina Winifred Montgomery, known as Tammi Terrell was an American singer-songwriter most notable for her association with Motown and her duets with Marvin Gaye. As a teenager she recorded for the Scepter–Wand, Try Me and Checker record labels. She signed with Motown in April 1965 and enjoyed...

, instead of in the group limousine used by the other four Temptations. The other members slowly became irritated and annoyed with Ruffin's behavior. Following Motown's decision to rechristen The Supremes
The Supremes
The Supremes, an American female singing group, were the premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s.Originally founded as The Primettes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959, The Supremes' repertoire included doo-wop, pop, soul, Broadway show tunes, psychedelic soul, and disco...

 as Diana Ross & the Supremes, Ruffin felt entitled to the same treatment and demanded that his group be renamed as well, to David Ruffin & the Temptations. Ruffin was also causing friction with Berry Gordy by demanding an accounting of the group's earnings.
Some of this behavior was attributed to the fact that by this time Ruffin had begun using cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 regularly, building further tension within the group and causing him to miss a number of group meetings, rehearsals, and concerts. There was a general consensus among the rest of the group that Ruffin needed to be replaced. Otis Williams insists that Ruffin was given ample and fair warning that if he did not change his attitude he would be fired. However, when Ruffin missed a June 1968 engagement at a Cleveland supper club in order to attend a show by his new girlfriend Barbara Gail Martin (daughter of Dean Martin), it was decided that he had crossed the line. The other four Temptations drew up legal documentation, officially firing Ruffin from the group. Dennis Edwards
Dennis Edwards
Dennis Edwards is a soul and R&B singer, most noted for being one of Motown act The Temptations' lead singers replacing David Ruffin. He is the father of Issa Pointer, whose mother is Ruth Pointer of The Pointer Sisters.-Career:...

, formerly of the Contours, was hired to replace him. Edwards and Ruffin were good friends, and at first, Ruffin went along with the changing of the guard. After a short time, however, Ruffin began turning up at shows, jumping onstage during performances of the songs he once sang lead on, stealing the spotlight from Edwards.

Both the Temptations and Motown were forced to hire extra security guards to prevent Ruffin from attending other Temptations performances and providing further embarrassment to Edwards and the group. Ruffin then sued Motown in October 1968, seeking a release from the label, but Motown countersued to keep the singer from leaving and the case was eventually settled out of court. The settlement required Ruffin to remain with Motown as a solo artist to finish out his initial contract.

Edwards' first album with the Temptations was Live at the Copa
Live at the Copa (Temptations album)
Live at the Copa is a 1968 live album recorded by The Temptations at the Copacabana supper club in New York City. Released in 1968 by Gordy Records, Live at the Copa features new lead singer Dennis Edwards in place of David Ruffin...

, recorded at the group's return to the famous Copacabana nightclub, and later that year, Berry Gordy commissioned the first of a number of collaborations for the Temptations with Diana Ross & the Supremes. The results included two studio albums, Together
Together (Supremes and Temptations album)
Together, released by Motown in 1969 , was the second and final duets studio album combining Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations into an eight-person Motown act...

) and Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations
Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations
Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations is, as the title implies, a collaborative album combining Motown's two best selling groups, Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations. Issued by Motown in late 1968 to coincide with the broadcast of the Supremes/Temptations TCB television special,...

, which featured the number-two hit single "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
"I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" is a soul song most popularly released as a joint single performed by Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations for the Motown label...

". The tracks for the latter included Dennis Edwards' first studio recordings with the Temptations and further results of this collaboration included a joint tour and two NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 television specials, TCB
TCB (television special)
TCB was a 1968 television special produced by Motown Productions and George Schlatter–Ed Friendly Productions . The special was a musical revue starring Motown's two most popular groups at the time, Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations...

(aired December 9, 1968) and G.I.T. on Broadway
G.I.T. on Broadway
G.I.T. on Broadway was a 1969 live television special produced by Motown Productions and George Schlatter-Ed Friendly Productions. The special, a follow-up to 1968's successful TCB program, was a musical revue starring Motown's two most popular groups at the time, Diana Ross & the Supremes and The...

(aired November 12, 1969).

Psychedelic soul


The addition of Dennis Edwards to the Temptations coincided with the adoption of a new sound for the group by producer Norman Whitfield, and in the fall of 1968, Whitfield began producing psychedelic
Psychedelic music
Psychedelic music covers a range of popular music styles and genres, which are inspired by or influenced by psychedelic culture and which attempt to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It emerged during the mid 1960s among folk rock and blues-rock bands in the...

-based material for the Temptations, derived primarily from the sound of funk
Funk
Funk is a music genre that originated in the mid-late 1960s when African American musicians blended soul music, jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk de-emphasizes melody and harmony and brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground...

 band Sly & the Family Stone
Sly & the Family Stone
Sly and the Family Stone were an American rock, funk, and soul band from San Francisco, California. Active from 1966 to 1983, the band was pivotal in the development of soul, funk, and psychedelic music...

. This new style, which debuted with the Top 10 hit single "Cloud Nine
Cloud Nine (The Temptations song)
"Cloud Nine" is a 1968 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Motown label. It was the first of their singles to feature Dennis Edwards instead of David Ruffin in the lineup, was the first of producer Norman Whitfield's psychedelic soul tracks, and won Motown its first Grammy Award...

" in October 1968, was a marked departure from the David Ruffin-era ballads, leading the group to a new and higher plateau. The instrumentation was funk
Funk
Funk is a music genre that originated in the mid-late 1960s when African American musicians blended soul music, jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk de-emphasizes melody and harmony and brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground...

ier, the beat was hard-driving, and all five Temptations traded lead vocals, similar to Sly & the Family Stone. "Cloud Nine", the centerpiece of the group's landmark Cloud Nine LP, was a Top 10 hit and won Motown its first Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

, for Best R&B Vocal Group Performance
Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals
The Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal was awarded between 1970 and 2011. From 1967 to 1969 and in 1971 the award included instrumental performances...

 of 1969
Grammy Awards of 1969
The 11th Grammy Awards were held on March 12, 1969. They recognized accomplishments of musicians for the year 1968.-Award winners:*Record of the Year**Paul Simon & Roy Halee & Simon & Garfunkel for "Mrs...

.
The blending of the Motown sound and psychedelic rock sound resulted in a new subgenre of music called "psychedelic soul
Psychedelic soul
Psychedelic soul, sometimes called black rock, is a sub-genre of soul music, which mixes the characteristics of soul with psychedelic rock...

", also evident in the work of Diana Ross and the Supremes ("Reflections", "Love Child
Love Child (song)
"Love Child" is a 1968 song released by the Motown label for Diana Ross & the Supremes, becoming the Supremes' 11th number-one single in the United States....

"), Marvin Gaye's version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine
I Heard It through the Grapevine
"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" is a landmark song in the history of Motown. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1966, the single was first recorded by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles...

", and the music of The 5th Dimension, The Undisputed Truth
The Undisputed Truth
The Undisputed Truth was a 1970s Motown recording act, assembled by record producer Norman Whitfield as a means for being able to experiment with his psychedelic soul production techniques...

 and The Friends of Distinction. More Temptations psychedelic soul singles would follow in 1969 and 1970, among them "Runaway Child, Running Wild
Runaway Child, Running Wild
"Runaway Child, Running Wild" is a 1969 hit single for the Gordy label, performed by The Temptations and produced by Norman Whitfield...

" (a number-one R&B hit), "I Can't Get Next to You
I Can't Get Next to You
"I Can't Get Next to You" is a 1969 number-one single recorded by The Temptations and produced by Norman Whitfield for the Gordy label. The song was the number-one single on the Billboard Top Pop Singles chart for two weeks in 1969, from October 11 to October 25, replacing "Sugar, Sugar" by The...

" (a number-one pop hit), "Psychedelic Shack
Psychedelic Shack (song)
"Psychedelic Shack" is a 1969 single for the Motown label performed by The Temptations and produced by Norman Whitfield. It became a hit single in 1970....

" and "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)
Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today)
"Ball of Confusion " is a 1970 hit single for The Temptations. It was released on the Gordy label, and produced by Norman Whitfield....

", but the formula began to wear thin when "Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite the World)", only went to #33 Pop in the fall of 1970. The group's other important albums from this period include Puzzle People
Puzzle People
Puzzle People is a 1969 album recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy label. Entirely produced by Norman Whitfield, Puzzle People takes the next step along the path that Cloud Nine started, and takes the Temptations further away from a classic soul sound, and more towards the realm of...

(1969) and Psychedelic Shack
Psychedelic Shack (album)
Psychedelic Shack is a 1970 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label, which represents the Temptations' full-blown submergence into psychedelia...

(1970), which includes the original version of "War".

Exit Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams


Paul Williams, who suffered from sickle-cell disease
Sickle-cell disease
Sickle-cell disease , or sickle-cell anaemia or drepanocytosis, is an autosomal recessive genetic blood disorder with overdominance, characterized by red blood cells that assume an abnormal, rigid, sickle shape. Sickling decreases the cells' flexibility and results in a risk of various...

, fell into depression
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

 because of the stress of touring and personal issues. By the late 1960s, he had developed a serious case of alcoholism
Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a broad term for problems with alcohol, and is generally used to mean compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages, usually to the detriment of the drinker's health, personal relationships, and social standing...

. As his physical and mental health began to decline sharply, it made performing more and more difficult. Williams began traveling with oxygen tanks, and the other four Temptations made valiant efforts to raid and drain his alcohol stashes.

By 1969, Richard Street
Richard Street
Richard Allen Street is an American soul and R&B singer, most notable as a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1993...

, lead singer of Motown act The Monitors and a former Distant, was touring with the group as a backup replacement for Williams. For most shows, save for his solo numbers, Williams would dance and lip-sync onstage to parts sung live by Street into an offstage mic behind a curtain. At other shows, and during most of the second half of 1970, Street substituted for Williams onstage.

Eddie Kendricks became detached from the group after David Ruffin's firing and as the health of Paul Williams continued to fail. Kendricks began regularly fighting with Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin over leadership of the group. In addition, Kendricks preferred the ballad material from the earlier days and was uncomfortable with the psychedelic soul material the group was now performing. As a result, Kendricks rekindled his friendship with Ruffin, who persuaded him to quit the Temptations and go solo. After a November 1970 Copacabana engagement, another confrontation between himself, Otis Williams, and Franklin caused Kendricks to walk out in-between shows and not return. Both Kendricks and Williams then agreed that Kendricks would be leaving the group. Kendricks later stated that he actually considered leaving as early as 1965, but remained with the Temptations and unsuccessfully attempted to get permission to record a solo album without leaving the group.

Before Kendricks officially left the Temptations, he and Paul Williams recorded the lead vocals for "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)
Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)
"Just My Imagination " is a song by American soul group The Temptations. Released on the Gordy label, and produced by Norman Whitfield, it features on the group's 1971 album, Sky's the Limit. When released as a single, "Just My Imagination" became the third Temptations song to reach number one on...

", a ballad that became Kendricks' final single with the group. Included on the Sky's the Limit LP along with the original album version of "Smiling Faces Sometimes
Smiling Faces Sometimes
"Smiling Faces Sometimes" is a soul song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for the Motown label. The song was originally recorded by the Temptations in 1971. Producer Norman Whitfield had the song re-recorded by the Undisputed Truth the same year, resulting in a number-three Billboard...

", "Just My Imagination" was released as a single in January 1971
1971 in music
-Events:*February 1 – after months of feuding in the press, Ginger Baker and Elvin Jones hold a "drum battle" at The Lyceum.*February 8 – Bob Dylan's hour-long documentary film, Eat the Document, is premièred at New York's Academy of Music...

, and the song began steadily climbing the U.S. pop singles chart, peaking at #1 two months later. By the time "Just My Imagination" topped the charts, Kendricks had negotiated his release from the group and signed a solo deal with Motown's Tamla label.

The Temptations originally hired Ricky Owens
Ricky Owens
Ricky Owens was an African-American R&B and soul singer better known as the first tenor and lead singer of the doo-wop/R&B group The Vibrations and, briefly, as member of The Temptations, the first replacement of original Temptations founding member Eddie Kendricks...

, from the Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

-based vocal group the Vibrations
The Vibrations
The Vibrations were an African-American soul vocal group from Los Angeles, California, active from the mid-1950s to 1976. Most notable among the group's hit singles were "My Girl Sloopy" and "Love in Them Thar Hills"...

, to replace Kendricks. However, Owens only played two dates with the group before he was fired for forgetting the words to his solo numbers. For several weeks of the spring of 1971, the Temptations were without a fifth member. Owens meanwhile returned to the Vibrations and died in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

 on December 6, 1996 at the age of 57.

Whitfield took the remaining Temptations quartet and re-recorded "It's Summer", the B-side to "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)
Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today)
"Ball of Confusion " is a 1970 hit single for The Temptations. It was released on the Gordy label, and produced by Norman Whitfield....

", as a replacement single. "Smiling Faces Sometimes" was released as a single for The Undisputed Truth
The Undisputed Truth
The Undisputed Truth was a 1970s Motown recording act, assembled by record producer Norman Whitfield as a means for being able to experiment with his psychedelic soul production techniques...

 instead, becoming a Top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

 in 1971. Meanwhile, "It's Summer" peaked at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the first Temptations single to miss the Top 40 since "Farewell My Love
Farewell My Love
"Farewell My Love" is a 1963 single by The Temptations for the Gordy label. It was the last single that A-side was written and produced by Motown president Berry Gordy for well over a decade, and the last released during the period of the "Original 5" lineup...

" eight years earlier.

After declaring a few weeks later that he was unable to continue performing due to medical reasons, Paul Williams quit the Temptations in May. Richard Street officially took Williams' place, although Williams remained on the group's payroll as an adviser and choreographer. After Williams had recovered enough to record again, he recorded two sides for a debut solo single. However, on August 17, 1973, Williams died in Detroit at the age of 34, his death ruled a suicide by the Wayne County
Wayne County, Michigan
-History:Wayne County was one of the first counties formed when the Northwest Territory was organized. It was named for the American general "Mad Anthony" Wayne. It originally encompassed the entire area of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, as well as small sections that are now part of northern...

 coroner.

The Temptations in the early 1970s



A month later, in May 1971, The Temptations had finally found a permanent replacement for the first tenor position in twenty-year-old Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

 native Damon Harris
Damon Harris
Damon Harris is a three-time Grammy Award-winning African-American soul and R&B singer. He is most notable as a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1975. Twenty years old when he joined the group, Harris was the youngest member of The Temptations during his tenure in the group...

. Otis Williams, Edwards, Franklin, Street, and Harris continued recording and performing, and Norman Whitfield continued producing hits for them. Among these were Top 40 hits such as "Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)
Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)
"Superstar " is a 1971 hit single for the Gordy label, recorded by The Temptations and produced by Norman Whitfield...

" (1971), a message from the Temptations to David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, and "Take a Look Around" (1972).

Late 1972 saw the release of, "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
"Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" is a soul song, written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong as a single for Motown act The Undisputed Truth in 1971...

" a magnum opus
Masterpiece
Masterpiece in modern usage refers to a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship....

 produced by Norman Whitfield. Originally a three-minute record written and produced for the Undisputed Truth, Whitfield took the somber tune and created a sprawling, dramatic twelve-minute version for the Temptations---a forerunner of the extended single, soon to become popular in clubs and discothèques. An edited seven-minute version was released as a single and became one of the longest hit singles in music history: it hit #1 on the pop charts and #5 on the R&B charts. Radio DJs loved the its length as much as its catchy beat and lyrics, as it allowed them to go across the street from the station for a sandwich during their shift and return before the record ended. In 1973, "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" won the Temptations their second Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Group
Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals
The Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal was awarded between 1970 and 2011. From 1967 to 1969 and in 1971 the award included instrumental performances...

. Whitfield and arranger/conductor Paul Riser won the award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance
Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance
The Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance was awarded from 1970 to 1990 and in 1993. The award had several minor name changes:*From 1970 to 1985 the award was known as Best R&B Instrumental Performance...

 for the instrumental version on the B-side, and Whitfield and Barrett Strong won the songwriting Grammy for Best R&B Song
Grammy Award for Best R&B Song
The Grammy Award for Best R&B Song has been awarded since 1959. From 1969 to 2000 it was known as the Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Song, from 1962 to 1968 it was known as Best Rhythm & Blues Recording, and from 1959-1961 as Best Rhythm & Blues Performance...

.

After "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone", Whitfield stopped working with Barrett Strong, and began writing the Temptations' material on his own. The success of "Papa" led Whitfield to create more elongated, operatic pieces, including the Top 10 hit "Masterpiece
Masterpiece (Temptations song)
"Masterpiece" is a 1973 soul single by American vocal group The Temptations. The song's architect, Norman Whitfield, titled the song "Masterpiece" because he felt it was a perfect blending of strings, horns, rhythm players, voices, studio tricks, and sweetening elements. However, the word...

" (1973) and several of the tracks on the resulting Masterpiece
Masterpiece (Temptations album)
Masterpiece is a 1973 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label, produced and written by Norman Whitfield.-Overview:The title refers to the album being not the group's intended masterpiece, but Whitfield's...

album. Tensions developed between Whitfield and the group, who found Whitfield arrogant and difficult to work with, and the group citing his habitual tardiness, his emphasis of the instrumental tracks over the vocals on many of his productions, and the declining singles and albums sales as other sources of conflict, sought to change producers. Otis Williams complained about Whitfield's actions and the Temptations' stagnant sales to Berry Gordy, and as a result, the group was reassigned to Jeffrey Bowen
Jeffrey Bowen
Jeffrey Bowen was a songwriter and record producer, notable for his work at both Motown Records and Holland-Dozier-Holland's Invictus and Hot Wax labels. He is best known for his work with the Detroit male vocal groups Chairmen of the Board and The Temptations...

, co-producer of the 1967 In a Mellow Mood album.

The final Norman Whitfield-produced Temptations album, 1990, was released very late in 1973, and included the Top 30 single Let Your Hair Down
Let Your Hair Down
"Let Your Hair Down" is a 1973 single by American vocal group The Temptations. Dennis Edwards sings lead on the song and the group is backed by Rose Royce on the track. The song originally appeared on the Temptations 1973 album, "1990"...

. Shortly afterwards, Whitfield left Motown, and in 1975 established Whitfield Records
Whitfield Records
Whitfield Records was a record label, founded in 1975 by former Motown producer and songwriter Norman Whitfield and active until 1982. Whitfield Records was distributed throughout its entire existence by Warner Bros...

, taking the Undisputed Truth and Willie Hutch
Willie Hutch
Willie McKinley Hutchison, known professionally as Willie Hutch was an American singer, songwriter as well as a record producer and recording artist for the Motown record label during the 1970s and 1980s....

 with him, along with Rose Royce
Rose Royce
Rose Royce is an American soul and R&B band. The group is best known for several hit singles including "Car Wash," "I Wanna Get Next to You," "Wishing on a Star", "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" and "I'm Going Down".-Career:...

---who performed an instrumental track for Let Your Hair Down
Let Your Hair Down
"Let Your Hair Down" is a 1973 single by American vocal group The Temptations. Dennis Edwards sings lead on the song and the group is backed by Rose Royce on the track. The song originally appeared on the Temptations 1973 album, "1990"...

before recording their 1976 smash Car Wash
Car Wash (song)
"Car Wash" is a 1976 soul music single by Rose Royce for MCA Records, the group's debut single and one of the most notable successes of the disco era. Written and produced by the band's main producer Norman Whitfield, "Car Wash", the theme of the 1976 film Car Wash, was Rose Royce's most successful...

.

Dry spell


Bowen's first LP with the Temptations was January 1975
1975 in music
-January–April:*January 2 - New York City U.S. District Court Judge Richard Owen rules that former Beatle John Lennon and his lawyers can have access to Department of Immigration files pertaining to his deportation case....

's A Song for You, which included a cover of the titular Leon Russell
Leon Russell
Claude Russell Bridges , known professionally as Leon Russell, is an American musician and songwriter, who has recorded as a session musician, sideman, and maintained a solo career in music....

 tune (popularized with soul audiences by Donny Hathaway
Donny Hathaway
Donny Edward Hathaway was an American soul singer-songwriter and musician. Hathaway contracted with Atlantic Records in 1969 and with his first single for the Atco label, "The Ghetto, Part I" in early 1970, Rolling Stone magazine "marked him as a major new force in soul music."His collaborations...

), along with the pop Top 40/R&B number-one hits "Happy People
Happy People
"Happy People" is a 1974 single by The Temptations, co-written by Lionel Richie. The song was the first single from the A Song For You album. In the United States, the single went to number one on the R&B chart and number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. "Happy People" also peaked at...

" (featuring the Commodores as the instrumentalists) and "Shakey Ground
Shakey Ground
"Shakey Ground" is a 1975 R&B single by The Temptations. It was co-written by Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel, who plays lead guitar on the song. Original Funkadelic bassist Billy "Bass" Nelson also plays on the song...

" (featuring instrumentation by Parliament-Funkadelic
Parliament-Funkadelic
Parliament-Funkadelic is a funk, soul and rock music collective headed by George Clinton. Their style has been dubbed P-Funk. Collectively the group has existed under various names since the 1960s and has been known for top-notch musicianship, politically charged lyrics, outlandish concept albums...

's Eddie Hazel
Eddie Hazel
Edward Earl "Eddie" Hazel was a guitarist in early funk music in the United States who played lead guitar with Parliament-Funkadelic...

 along with Billy Bass Nelson
Billy Bass Nelson
William "Billy Bass" Nelson is a U.S. musician, who was the original bassist for Funkadelic. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic....

). "Glasshouse
Glasshouse (The Temptations song)
"Glasshouse" is a 1975 R&B single by The Temptations. It was written by Motown songwriting team Charlemagne, which consisted of James Carmichael, Ronald Miller and Kathy Wakefield. The song appeared on the album A Song for You. All five Temptations alternate lead vocals, singing about how people...

", the group's final Top 40 Pop hit was also included. Damon Harris was fired from the group during the recording of A Song for You, as his behavior and work ethic were deemed unprofessional, and his replacement was Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 native Glenn Leonard
Glenn Leonard
Glenn Carl Leonard is an American R&B and soul singer best remembered for serving as the first tenor/secondary lead singer of the Motown quintet The Temptations from 1975 to 1983.-Biography:...

, formerly of the Unifics
The Unifics
The Unifics were an American soul group from Washington, D.C..In 1966 a group of talented students at Washington D.C.'s Howard University in 1966 formed the upstart group Al & the Vikings. Consisting of singer/songwriter Al Johnson, Tom Fauntleroy, Marvin Brown, Bob Hayes, and George Roland, the...

.

A number of producers, including Bowen, Brian Holland
Brian Holland
Brian Holland is an American songwriter and record producer, best known as a member of Holland–Dozier–Holland. That songwriting and production team that was responsible for much of the Motown sound and numerous hit records by artists such as Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes, The Four Tops,...

, James Carmichael, and even the Temptations themselves tried producing hits for the next three LPs, House Party (November 1975), Wings of Love
Wings of Love
Wings of Love is a 1976 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. The album was an unsuccessful release, both commercially and critically...

(March 1976
1976 in music
-January–February:*January 5 – Former Beatles road manager Mal Evans is shot dead by Los Angeles police after refusing to drop what police only later determine is an air rifle....

), and The Temptations Do the Temptations
The Temptations Do the Temptations
The Temptations Do the Temptations is a 1976 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. The album was the group's final release from its original Motown tenure; the Temptations terminated their Motown contract during the recording of this album...

(August 1976). None of these recordings were as commercially successful as A Song for You however, and none of their associated singles entered the Billboard charts.

As time progressed, Bowen pushed Dennis Edwards further to the front of the group, which was evident on tracks like Wings of Love
Wings of Love
Wings of Love is a 1976 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. The album was an unsuccessful release, both commercially and critically...

, featuring Edwards' vocal more prominently than the other Temptations' backing vocals. Otis Williams felt that this was hurting the group, accused Motown of inattention, and cited this as the reason for the group's declining sales and popularity. After The Temptations Do the Temptations was recorded in 1976, Edwards was fired from the group, and with new lead Louis Price
Louis Price
Louis Bernhardt Price is an American R&B, soul singer, and actor notable for being the lead singer of the first post-Dennis Edwards led version of The Temptations from 1977 to 1980....

 on board, they left Motown for Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

.

Success continued to elude the group at Atlantic, however. Their two releases on Atlantic -- Hear to Tempt You (1977), and Bare Back (1978), along with their associated singles, had failed to perform any better at Atlantic than their last handful of singles had at Motown. As a result, in 1979, Atlantic released the group from its contract, and shortly afterwards, the Temptations met once again with Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy, who re-signed the group to Motown in 1980.

Return to Motown and Reunion



Upon the return to Motown several lineup changes occurred. Louis Price departed from the group and joined the Drifters. Dennis Edwards---who had made an unsuccessful attempt at developing a solo career with the assistance of entrepreneur Barry Hankerson during his three-year exit from the group---returned to the lineup. And Berry Gordy co-wrote and produced "Power", the Temptations' first single under the new contract. "Power", from the album of the same name, only Bubbled Under the Top 40 of Billboard's Hot 100, but hit #11 on the R&B charts. Two years of under-performing singles and albums followed, including an eponymous album with Philadelphia-based producer Thom Bell
Thom Bell
Thomas Randolph "Thom" Bell is an American songwriter and producer, best known as one of the creators of the Philadelphia style of soul music in the 1970s. He moved to Philadelphia as a child.-Biography:...

, until Motown began planning a Temptations reunion tour in 1982.

Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin agreed to rejoin the group for the new album entitled Reunion
Reunion (Temptations album)
Reunion is a 1982 album by The Temptations for Gordy Records. The album was released during the 1982 Temptations Reunion tour, which reunited David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks with the Temptations after a decade-long absence. The album also features then-current Temptations Dennis Edwards, Glenn...

and its subsequent promotional tour, and Melvin Franklin's nephew, Rick James
Rick James
James Ambrose Johnson, Jr. , better known by his stage name Rick James, was an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. James was a popular performer in the late 1970s and 1980s, scoring four number-one hits on the U.S. R&B charts performing in the genres of funk and R&B...

, the Motown funk star who had previously used the Temptations as backup vocalists on his 1981 hit "Super Freak
Super Freak
"Super Freak" is a 1981 hit single produced and performed by Rick James. The song, co-written by James and Alonzo Miller, was first released on James' album Street Songs and became one of James' signature songs. It features background vocals from Motown labelmates The Temptations, in which the bass...

", wrote, produced, and guested on the Reunion album's lead single, "Standing on the Top". The single went to number-six on the R&B charts and featured Ruffin, Kendricks and Edwards trading back and forth on lead.

While the ensuing Reunion tour with all seven Temptations (Ruffin, Kendricks, Otis Williams, Franklin, Edwards, Richard Street, and Glenn Leonard) was financially successful, it ended up being a stressful venture. Kendricks' voice had weakened after decades of chain smoking
Chain smoking
Chain smoking is the practice of lighting a new cigarette for personal consumption immediately after one that is finished, sometimes using the finished cigarette to light the next one. It is a common form of addiction.-Causes:...

, Ruffin, still addicted to drugs, missed a number of the performances due to being incapacitated, and current group members Dennis Edwards and Glenn Leonard were causing problems. At the conclusion of the Reunion tour, Ruffin and Kendricks departed, and they began touring and performing together as a duo.

One more album, Surface Thrills
Surface Thrills
Surface Thrills is an album from The Temptations. The two singles released from the album were the title track and "Love on My Mind Tonight," with the latter being moderately successful. Dennis Edwards sings lead on every track. It was the last album featuring falsetto Glenn Leonard...

, released in 1983, featured a sharp departure in the group's sound by incorporating elements of then-current rock. Following its release, Glenn Leonard was let go and replaced by Ron Tyson
Ron Tyson
Ron Tyson is an American tenor/falsetto singer and songwriter. Tyson is the current tenor for long-lived singing group The Temptations, filling the role made famous by Eddie Kendricks in the 1960s.-Biography:...

, who was with the Philadelphia groups the Ethics and Love Committee. Tyson had been a staff songwriter at Atlantic during the Temptations' tenure at that label, and co-wrote several songs on the album Hear to Tempt You.

From the 1980s to the 1990s



By this time, the Temptations' releases were no longer performing well on the pop charts, though some singles still made the R&B Top 20. "Love on My Mind Tonight," a single from Surface Thrills, charted at number 17.

The lineup of Franklin, Williams, Street, Tyson, and Edwards proved to be short-lived. The five performed on Motown 25 and released the direct to video The Temptations: Live in Concert (filmed at Harrah's Atlantic City
Harrah's Atlantic City
Harrah's Resort Atlantic City is a hotel and casino, located in the marina district of Atlantic City, New Jersey, and is Harrah's flagship casino.The casino is one of three in the marina district of the city, along with the Borgata and the Golden Nugget...

). The album Back to Basics, released later in 1983, was the first album featuring Ron Tyson on lead. "Sail Away," produced by a returning Norman Whitfield and featuring Ron Tyson's first lead vocal, peaked at number 13. In addition, a then-relatively unknown singer/musician, Ali-Ollie Woodson
Ali-Ollie Woodson
Ali-Ollie Woodson was an American R&B singer, songwriter, keyboardist and occasional actor. He was known for singing with The Temptations beginning in 1984, and also worked with Aretha Franklin and Bill Pinkney....

 was featured on one track, "Stop the World Right Here (I Wanna Get Off)." Woodson was a Detroit native who had been a potential candidate to replace Dennis Edwards back in 1977. Meanwhile, Edwards (who also had his share of lead vocals on the Back to Basics album) was again fired in 1984, for missing rehearsals or showing up hungover
Hangover
A hangover describes the sum of unpleasant physiological effects following heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages. The most commonly reported characteristics of a hangover include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dysphoria, diarrhea and thirst, typically after the...

. He then attempted a second solo career, scoring a hit with the 1984 single "Don't Look Any Further
Don't Look Any Further
"Don't Look Any Further" is a 1984 single by former Temptations lead singer Dennis Edwards, featuring Siedah Garrett. The single was written by Franne Golde, Dennis Lambert and Duane Hitchings. It peaked at #2 on the Billboard Black Singles chart and peaked at #72 on the Billboard Hot 100.-Track...

", a duet with Siedah Garrett
Siedah Garrett
Siedah Garrett is an American songwriter and singer.-Biography:She appeared as a contestant on Password Plus in 1980.She performed "One Man Woman" on Quincy Jones' Grammy-Award winning "Back on the Block."...

. At this point, Woodson officially joined the group, taking Edwards' place. Woodson's first lead on a single was 1984's "Treat Her Like a Lady
Treat Her Like a Lady (The Temptations song)
"Treat Her Like a Lady" is a 1984 single by The Temptations and the first single where Ali-Ollie Woodson was lead singer. The song appears on Temptations' album Truly for You....

", co-written by himself and Otis Williams, and co-produced by former Earth, Wind & Fire
Earth, Wind & Fire
Earth, Wind & Fire is an American soul and R&B band formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1969 by Verdine and Maurice White. Also known as EWF, the band has won six Grammy Awards and four American Music Awards. They have been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of...

 members Al McKay
Al McKay
Al McKay is a guitarist, songwriter, producer and former member of the American funk band Earth, Wind & Fire. Al used to lead his own group Al McKay's L.A...

 and Ralph Johnson. The single became their biggest success on R&B radio since 1975, reaching number-two on the R&B charts, and just missing the Pop Top 40 at number 48. The group experienced similar success in 1986 with the single "Lady Soul", another Top 5 R&B smash.

Ollie Woodson remained with the Temptations until 1987, when he was fired for consistent lateness. He was replaced by the again-returning Dennis Edwards. The group recorded one album during Edwards' third tenure, Together Again, released in late 1987. The following year, Otis Williams published his autobiography, Temptations, co-written with Patricia Romanowski, chronicling the careers of the group from the Primes/Distants days and focusing on the lives of Williams and Melvin Franklin. (An updated version of the book was published in 2002.)

Edwards was fired from the group for the third and final time in late 1988, with Woodson re-joining the lineup. On January 18, 1989, the Temptations were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

. The event honored Edwards, Franklin, Otis Williams, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks (now performing as "Eddie Kendrick"), and, posthumously, Paul Williams. Most of the Temptations, present and former, showed no ill feelings towards one another, although Otis Williams reported that Kendricks would not speak to him during the ceremony. The Temptations ended their induction ceremony with a performance of Paul Williams' signature song, "Don't Look Back", dedicated to his memory.

After reuniting at the induction ceremony, and much to the chagrin of Otis Williams and Motown, Edwards, Ruffin, and Kendrick made plans to tour and record as "Ruffin, Kendrick and Edwards, Former Leads of The Temptations". The tour was in fact carried out, but production on the accompanying album was terminated when 50-year-old David Ruffin died in Philadelphia after a cocaine overdose on June 1, 1991. Kendrick was diagnosed with lung cancer
Lung cancer
Lung cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung in a process called metastasis into nearby tissue and, eventually, into other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in lung, known as primary...

 soon after; he continued to perform until his death on October 5, 1992 in his native Birmingham.

The Temptations in the 1990s



Richard Street missed a performance in 1992 after undergoing emergency surgery to remove kidneystones. Otis Williams, unaware of Street's surgery, called him angrily about his absence. Street felt Williams was unsympathetic, and as a result, he left the group in 1993 after twenty-two years. His replacement was St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

 native Theo Peoples
Theo Peoples
Theo Peoples is an African-American R&B/soul singer. The son of a preacher, he was discovered by Ron Tyson and tapped to replace Richard Street in the long-lived Motown group The Temptations in 1992.His first recordings with the group were released in the box set Emperors of Soul where he sang lead...

.

By the early 1990s, bass Melvin Franklin began missing performances due to failing health and Ray Davis
Ray Davis (musician)
Raymond "Ray" Davis was the original bass singer and one of the founding members of The Parliaments, Parliament, and Funkadelic. His regular nickname while he was with those groups was "Sting Ray Davis". Aside from George Clinton, he was the only original member of the Parliaments not to leave the...

, former bass man of Parliament-Funkadelic
Parliament-Funkadelic
Parliament-Funkadelic is a funk, soul and rock music collective headed by George Clinton. Their style has been dubbed P-Funk. Collectively the group has existed under various names since the 1960s and has been known for top-notch musicianship, politically charged lyrics, outlandish concept albums...

, began touring as a fill-in during 1993. Franklin died after suffering a brain seizure at the age of 52 on February 23, 1995, and Davis was named his official replacement. The group subsequently finished production on For Lovers Only
For Lovers Only
For Lovers Only is a 1995 covers/pop standards album by The Temptations for the Motown label, something of a sequel to their 1967 album The Temptations in a Mellow Mood. The album features the final recordings of Melvin Franklin, who fell ill during recording and died before the album's release...

, an album of pop standards featuring two tracks recorded with Melvin Franklin prior to his death.

This lineup would not last, however, as Davis was diagnosed with lung cancer
Lung cancer
Lung cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung in a process called metastasis into nearby tissue and, eventually, into other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in lung, known as primary...

 and left shortly after completing the album. Davis died in New Brunswick, New Jersey of respiratory problems and complications of lung cancer on the evening of Tuesday July 5, 2005.

The group continued as a quartet for a short time before recruiting bass Harry McGilberry
Harry McGilberry
Harry McGilberry was an American R&B and soul singer and latter-day bass singer for The Temptations between 1995 and 2003....

, a former member of the Futures. For Lovers Only would also be the last contribution for lead Ali-Ollie Woodson; he was released from the group shortly after McGilberry's hiring due to health problems: he suffered two bouts of throat cancer in a short time. He was replaced by new member Terry Weeks
Terry Weeks
Terry Wayne Weeks is an American R&B and soul singer who is currently one of the lead singers of the legendary Motown quintet The Temptations....

, who had served as his sub.

The Temptations' new lineup, consisting of Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, Theo Peoples, and newcomers Harry McGilberry and Terry Weeks, toured throughout 1997, and was featured in the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXII
Super Bowl XXXII
Super Bowl XXXII was an American football game played on January 25, 1998 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California to decide the National Football League champion following the 1997 regular season...

 in early 1998, which celebrated the fortieth anniversary of Motown. Later that year, The Temptations released Phoenix Rising
Phoenix Rising (Temptations album)
Phoenix Rising is a 1998 album by The Temptations for the Motown label, featuring the debut of new Temptations Barrington "Bo" Henderson, Terry Weeks, and Harry McGilberry. The album, the Temptation's first million-selling album in twenty years, features the hit single "Stay", which samples the...

, vocally arranged by 80's producer Narada Michael Walden, Claytoven Richardson, Theo Peoples, Tony Lindsey and Skyler Jett
Skyler Jett
Skyler Jett is a singer who has worked with many top musicians, such as Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin. He also was briefly the lead singer in The Commodores, touring with them around the world. He is Grammy recognized for his performance with Celine Dion in "My Heart Will Go...

, which became their first million-selling album in over twenty years. The album was anchored by "Stay", a single featuring Theo Peoples on lead and including a sample
Sampling (music)
In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a different sound recording of a song or piece. Sampling was originally developed by experimental musicians working with musique concrète and electroacoustic music, who physically...

 from "My Girl", which became a number-one hit on the adult contemporary charts. During the recording of Phoenix Rising, however, Theo Peoples departed, and was replaced by Barrington "Bo" Henderson. The completed album features lead vocals on different tracks by both Henderson and Peoples, who would join the Four Tops
Four Tops
The Four Tops are an American vocal quartet, whose repertoire has included doo-wop, jazz, soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, hard rock, and showtunes...

 the following year.

The Temptations mini-series



1998 also saw the debut of The Temptations
The Temptations (miniseries)
The Temptations is a four-hour television miniseries broadcast in two-hour halves on NBC, based upon the history of one of Motown's longest-lived acts, The Temptations...

, a four-hour television miniseries
Miniseries
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

 based on Otis Williams' Temptations autobiography. It was broadcast in two parts on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 on November 1 and November 2, 1998. The miniseries was a ratings success and won an Emmy
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

 award for Best Direction; it was subsequently rerun on the VH-1 cable television network and released to VHS
VHS
The Video Home System is a consumer-level analog recording videocassette standard developed by Victor Company of Japan ....

 and DVD
DVD
A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....

.

Otis Williams' former wife, Josephine, Melvin Franklin's mother, Rose Franklin, and David Ruffin's family, filed a joint lawsuit against Williams, Motown, de Passe Entertainment
De Passe Entertainment
de Passe Entertainment is an American film and television production company run by entertainment executive Suzanne de Passe. The company was originally founded by Berry Gordy, Jr., in 1968, as Motown Productions, the film and television arm of Gordy's Motown Records label.-History:Motown...

, Hallmark Entertainment, and NBC for a number of charges, including "Defamation". The judges ruled in favor of the defendants, and the ruling was upheld when the plaintiffs appealed in 2001. Williams later claimed that, although his book was used as the source material for the film, he did not have a great deal of control over how the material was presented.

From 2000 to the present day


The Temptations were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame
Vocal Group Hall of Fame
The Vocal Group Hall of Fame was organized to honor outstanding vocal groups throughout the world. It is headquartered in Sharon, Pennsylvania, United States. It includes a theater and a museum....

 in 1999. In 2001, their 2000 album Ear-Resistible
Ear-Resistible
Ear-Resistible is a 2000 album by The Temptations for the Motown label. Featuring the single "Selfish Reasons", the album won the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.-Track listing:#"I'll Just Go Crazy - Intro" – 0:33...

won the group its third Grammy, this one for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance
Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance
The Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance is an accolade presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally named the Gramophone Awards, to performers of quality traditional R&B vocal performances. The award was first given in 1999; until 2003, only...

. Bo Henderson was fired from the group in 2003, prompting a wrongful termination lawsuit. His replacement was former Spinners lead G.C. Cameron. The lineup of Cameron, Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, Harry McGilberry, and Terry Weeks recorded for a short time before Harry McGilberry was dismissed; his replacement was former Spaniels
The Spaniels
The Spaniels were an American R&B doo-wop group, best known for the hit "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite".They have been called the first successful Midwestern R&B group...

 bass Joe Herndon
Joe Herndon
Walter Joseph Herndon is an American R&B and soul singer, former bass singer of a version of doo-wop group The Spaniels and the current bass singer for The Temptations.-Biography:...

. McGilberry died on April 3, 2006, at age 56.

The group's final Motown album, Legacy
Legacy (Temptations album)
Legacy is a 2004 album by The Temptations for the Motown label, introducing new Temptations G.C. Cameron and Joe Herndon. The album was the group's final release on Motown; they left the label shortly after its release.-Track listing:#"Still Temptin'"...

, was released in 2004. Later that year, the Temptations asked to be released from their Motown contract, and moved to another Universal Motown Records Group
Universal Motown Records Group
Universal Motown Republic Group, also abbreviated as UMRG, was an umbrella label founded in 1999 by Universal Music Group to oversee the labels assigned to it's unit...

 label, New Door Records. Their sole album with this lineup, Reflections, was released on January 31, 2006, and contains covers of several popular Motown songs, including Diana Ross & the Supremes' "Reflections", the Miracles' "Ooo Baby Baby
Ooo Baby Baby
"Ooo Baby Baby" is a 1965 hit single by The Miracles for the Tamla label, today considered the group's signature song. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the song #262 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time....

", Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing
Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing
-Marcella Detroit & Elton John version:"Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" was recorded by Elton John as a duet with Marcella Detroit, and featured on his 1993 album Duets. It was also later included on Detroit's 1994 album Jewel. Released as a two-part CD single single in May 1994, it peaked at...

", and the Jackson 5
The Jackson 5
The Jackson 5 , later known as The Jacksons, were an American popular music family group from Gary, Indiana...

's "I'll Be There". In 2005, The Temptations were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. In 2007, The Temptations' recording of "My Girl" was voted a Legendary Michigan Song. The Temptations were nominated for the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance
Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance
The Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance is an accolade presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally named the Gramophone Awards, to performers of quality traditional R&B vocal performances. The award was first given in 1999; until 2003, only...

, for their version of Gaye's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
"How Sweet It Is " is a 1964 hit song written and produced by the Motown songwriting team of Holland–Dozier–Holland. It was originally recorded by American soul singer Marvin Gaye and became one of his most popular songs...

" from Reflections.

G. C. Cameron left the group in June 2007 to focus on his solo career. He was replaced by new member Bruce Williamson
Bruce Williamson (singer)
Bruce Williamson is an American R&B and soul singer; currently a lead singer for The Temptations.-Biography:Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Bruce started singing in church at a young age. Williamson said the love for music began after experiencing jealousy with a cousin of his...

. The new lineup recorded another album of soul covers, Back to Front, released in October 2007. Former member Ali-Ollie Woodson died on May 30, 2010 after a long battle with leukemia.

On May 4, 2010, the group released their Still Here album. A song featured, "First Kiss", has been criticized for having instances of Auto-Tune
Auto-Tune
Auto-Tune is a proprietary audio processor created by Antares Audio Technologies. Auto-Tune uses a phase vocoder to correct pitch in vocal and instrumental performances. It is used to disguise off-key inaccuracies and mistakes, and has allowed singers to perform apparently perfectly tuned vocal...

.

Splinter groups



Several former Temptations continue to perform outside of the group in spin-off or offshoot acts.

Ruffin, Kendricks & Edwards


The most well known splinter was "Ruffin, Kendricks & Edwards: Former Leads of the Temptations", which featured the three former Temptations and three other members, David Sea, who'd been a consideration to replace Edwards in 1984, Nate Evans, a former member of The Impressions, and a female vocalist.

Following the death of David Ruffin, Dennis Edwards and Eddie Kendricks began touring as "The Temptations", still with David Sea and Nate Evans, and bringing in another former Temptation, Damon Harris. The group had different sixth vocalists at different times, including Charles Blackmon (Blagman), from The Choice Four
The Choice Four
The Choice Four were an American soul/disco group from Washington, D.C. who recorded for RCA Records. Several of the group's members had previously sung in The Love Tones and The Stridels. They had several minor hits on the Billboard charts in the mid 1970s.-Albums:*The Finger Pointers *On Top of...

, and Curtis Taylor. but their use of the Temptations name prompted a legal battle with Otis Williams. The legal battle was resolved in favor of Otis Williams who is still touring as the last original Temptation.

Dennis Edwards and Damon Harris form offshoot groups


Following the death of Eddie Kendricks, the group splintered. Dennis formed "Dennis Edwards and the Temptations Revue", Damon formed "Damon Harris and the Temptations Revue" featuring future Temptation Joe Herndon, Evans and Taylor formed a Temptations tribute band and David Sea went on to a solo career.

Edwards' group, whose lineup in 1993 featured Edwards, Mike Patillo (bass), Bernard Gibson (tenor), a fourth male member, and a female member, has appeared on several PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 music specials. The female member was replaced by the returning David Sea in 1999, and the remaining male member by falsetto Chris Arnold in the early 2000s.

Bernard Gibson was fired in 2006, and replaced by another former Temptation, Ali-Ollie Woodson. Woodson had previously fronted an act called Ali-Ollie Woodson & the Emperors of Soul, the name being drawn from the Temptations boxed set
Boxed set
A box set is a compilation of various musical recordings, films, television programs, or other collection of related items that are contained in a box.-Music box sets:...

 released in 1994. Woodson left the group briefly in 2008, joining a Broadway review of The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, and was replaced by Paul Williams, Jr., son of the late Paul Williams, Sr. Woodson briefly rejoined, but left again due to cancer, with Paul Williams Jr. again taking his place. Woodson died on May 30, 2010.

Glenn Leonard's Temptations Revue


Harris later split from his "Temptations Revue", with the other four members joining another former Temptation falsetto, Glenn Leonard, to become "Glenn Leonard and the Temptations Experience." Joe Herndon left this group to join the Temptations and his spot was filled by former Temptations bass singer Ray Davis. Following Davis' death on July 5, 2005, the spot was filled by another former Temptations bass singer Harry McGilberry
Harry McGilberry
Harry McGilberry was an American R&B and soul singer and latter-day bass singer for The Temptations between 1995 and 2003....

, who died of an apparent drug overdose at the age of 56 on April 3, 2006. Damon Harris would form a new group later, billed as "Damon Harris and the Temptations Tribute."

Glenn Leonard has maintained his lineup throughout the 2000-2011 decade, and is billing his show "Glenn Leonard's Temptations Revue" http://www.glennleonardpromo.com His current lineup includes Kareem Ali, Pete Marshall from The Choice Four
The Choice Four
The Choice Four were an American soul/disco group from Washington, D.C. who recorded for RCA Records. Several of the group's members had previously sung in The Love Tones and The Stridels. They had several minor hits on the Billboard charts in the mid 1970s.-Albums:*The Finger Pointers *On Top of...

, Doc Devone, Andre Jackson and Freddy Black.

Richard Street's Temptations


Richard Street also leads a group, billed as "Richard Street" or "Richard Street's Temptations". Street is in the process of writing a book regarding his time with The Temptations entitled Ball of Confusion. If it is published, it will be the second autobiography regarding the group.
In 1992, "Ruffin & Kendricks" roadie, Tony Turner, also wrote a book, assisted by Barbara Aria, contrasting Otis Williams' account of the group's glory days, entitled Deliver Us From Temptation.

"Legendary Lead Singers of The Temptations"


Leonard, Woodson, and Henderson have toured as "Legendary Lead Singers of the Temptations" and "The Temptations Reunion Show" since 2004. This prompted a lawsuit by Otis Williams filed in October 2007, citing not just the three performers but their managers and every venue that hosted them. Williams' complaint deals with their use of the name, "The Temptations", as well as claims that the act accepted considerably lower fees than The Temptations, hurting the group's reputation as well as the ability to work. Also cited is advertising by the venues claimed to be misleading by billing Leonard, Woodson and Henderson's group as "The Temptations".

Musical style



Unlike many other R&B groups, each member of the Temptations was a lead singer of some capacity, and The Temptations' songs depended upon the individual members' interaction as a group. Although the group always had an appointed main lead singer who dominated most the lead vocals (from Paul Williams to David Ruffin, Dennis Edwards, and later singers such as Louis Price, Ali-Ollie Woodson, and Terry Weeks), that singer was never given more of a promotional push than the other members. Co-lead songs, with two or more of the singers sharing the lead vocals, are common in the Temptations catalog, particularly among the psychedelic-era recordings of the late 1960s/early 1970s.

The "Motown Sound" (1961–1968)


Following their first Motown hit, the group would alter their style several times over the ensuing years, adapting to the popular styles of the day while retaining their signature visual and vocal styles. The earliest Temptations recordings backed by Motown's stalwart studio band, the Funk Brothers, reflect the influence of producers Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson, and featured a cohesive blend of black rhythm and blues along with elements of white pop music
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

 that later came to be known as the "Motown Sound". Recordings made prior to 1966 such as "My Girl", were built around songs with simple, direct lyrics supported by an R&B rhythm section with orchestral strings and horns added for pop appeal. During this period, each recording usually featured only one lead singer, usually David Ruffin or Eddie Kendricks, although Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams each had solo numbers of their own at various times during this period.

Melisma
Melisma
Melisma, in music, is the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between several different notes in succession. Music sung in this style is referred to as melismatic, as opposed to syllabic, where each syllable of text is matched to a single note.-History:Music of ancient cultures used...

 and other complicated vocalization techniques featured in the arrangements of most other Motown groups of the period were essentially eschewed by the Temptations for a more direct, yet obviously gospel
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

-rooted vocal approach, in order to make the songs more palatable for white audiences. Creative control remained primarily in the hands of Smokey Robinson, although individual members of the Temptations periodically co-wrote some of their own songs, most frequently by Eddie Kendricks, who also handled the vocal arrangements for all of the Temptations' material.

In 1966, Norman Whitfield changed the group's dynamic, moving them away from the previous one lead singer model and adding elements derived from the rougher soul of artists such as James Brown
James Brown
James Joseph Brown was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and recording artist. He is the originator of Funk and is recognized as a major figure in the 20th century popular music for both his vocals and dancing. He has been referred to as "The Godfather of Soul," "Mr...

, Wilson Pickett
Wilson Pickett
Wilson Pickett was an American R&B/Soul singer and songwriter.A major figure in the development of American soul music, Pickett recorded over 50 songs which made the US R&B charts, and frequently crossed over to the US Billboard Hot 100...

, and the performers at Stax Records
Stax Records
Stax Records is an American record label, originally based in Memphis, Tennessee.Founded in 1957 as Satellite Records, the name Stax Records was adopted in 1961. The label was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, and...

. Whitfield and his lyricists crafted Temptations songs with shifts of dynamics, syncopated horn stabs, and more intricate harmony arrangements which spotlighted each singer's unique vocal range. Onstage, this change was reflected in the group's use of a custom-made four-headed microphone stand, (invented by David Ruffin), which allowed each member freedom to perform without having to all crowd around one or two microphones. Under Whitfield's control, the Temptations retained their white pop appeal, but also gained popularity amongst black audiences as well.

Psychedelic and cinematic soul (1968–1973)


When David Ruffin was replaced by Dennis Edwards, and Sly and the Family Stone became popular, Whitfield again restructured the Temptations' sound, this time driving the group almost completely into a "psychedelic soul" type sound. However, ballads in the traditional style of the group were still being recorded as B-sides and album fillers, with the lone exception being "Just My Imagination".

Most other recordings from this period in 1968–1970 such as "Cloud Nine" and "Psychedelic Shack" featured echoed vocal tracks, distorted guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

 lines with prominent use of the wah-wah pedal, hard-hitting drums, and various stereo
Stereophonic sound
The term Stereophonic, commonly called stereo, sound refers to any method of sound reproduction in which an attempt is made to create an illusion of directionality and audible perspective...

 and other sound effects. The majority of these songs feature at least two lead singers and often, all five Temptations sang lead, trading bars à la the Family Stone. Dennis Edwards, whose vocal style had a rougher, more Southern-soul based sound than that of David Ruffin, was often featured prominently on most of these recordings.

Inspired heavily by the concurrent works of Sly Stone
Sly Stone
Sly Stone is an American musician, songwriter, and record producer, most famous for his role as frontman for Sly & the Family Stone, a band which played a critical role in the development of soul, funk and psychedelia in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1993, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of...

, the lyrics for these songs centered primarily around then-current social issues such as integration
Racial integration
Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation . In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely...

, the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, and self-consciousness. In addition, in an attempt to get the social message contained therein across to their audiences more clearly, many of the psychedelic soul recordings of this period were presented in mixes of extended length, often up to twice, triple or quadruple the length of the typical three-minute Motown song.

Tracks such as the album version of "Run Away Child, Running Wild" from Cloud Nine, "Take a Stroll Thru Your Mind" from Psychedelic Shack, and "Smiling Faces Sometimes
Smiling Faces Sometimes
"Smiling Faces Sometimes" is a soul song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for the Motown label. The song was originally recorded by the Temptations in 1971. Producer Norman Whitfield had the song re-recorded by the Undisputed Truth the same year, resulting in a number-three Billboard...

" from Sky's the Limit, all run at least eight minutes. At the insistence of Norman Whitfield, a large portion of the additional running time for each song consisted of instrumental passages without vocals. For example, the hit version of their smash 1972 single "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" was nearly seven minutes, featuring an instrumental intro that was almost two minutes, a rarity for songs of that era.

"Psychedelic soul" soon gave way to "cinematic soul", highlighting a further series of lengthy recordings featuring detailed orchestration, extended instrumental introductions and bridging passages. Often focusing on lyrics about the ghettos and inner cities of black America, these songs were heavily influenced by the work of singer-songwriters Isaac Hayes
Isaac Hayes
Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr. was an American songwriter, musician, singer and actor. Hayes was one of the creative influences behind the southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served both as an in-house songwriter and as a record producer, teaming with his partner David Porter during the...

 and Curtis Mayfield
Curtis Mayfield
Curtis Lee Mayfield was an American soul, R&B, and funk singer, songwriter, and record producer.He is best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly, Mayfield is highly...

. Unlike Hayes and Mayfield however, the Temptations had no creative control over their recordings, and were in no way fond of the twelve- and thirteen-minute long songs being forced upon them by Norman Whitfield, whose contributions were the focal point of Temptations albums such as Solid Rock, All Directions
All Directions
-Personnel:* Dennis Edwards: vocals* Damon Harris: vocals* Richard Street: vocals* Melvin Franklin: vocals* Otis Williams: vocals* The Andantes: Additional background vocals on "Love Woke Me Up This Morning"* Norman Whitfield: producer...

, and particularly Masterpiece.

From funk to disco to adult contemporary (1974 to present)


In 1974, after Whitfield was dismissed as the producer for the Temptations, the group altered its sound to accommodate a balance of both up-tempo dance material as well as ballads. The vocal arrangements began to again focus primarily on one lead singer per track, although some leads were still being shared periodically. In addition, the Temptations themselves, after fighting Motown and Berry Gordy for creative control, began to write and produce some of their own material. From this point on, the Temptations focused almost exclusively on songs about romance. However, songs about social issues similar to the recordings made during the tenure of Norman Whitfield were periodically produced as well.

Temptations recordings of the mid `70's focused significantly on the influences of funk music from artists such as Parliament-Funkadelic
Parliament-Funkadelic
Parliament-Funkadelic is a funk, soul and rock music collective headed by George Clinton. Their style has been dubbed P-Funk. Collectively the group has existed under various names since the 1960s and has been known for top-notch musicianship, politically charged lyrics, outlandish concept albums...

 and Sly and the Family Stone, and members of both acts contributed significantly to material recorded by the group during this period. In addition, their signature ballad sound, reduced to filler material during much of the Whitfield period, was restored to the lush, full productions of the earlier hits produced by Smokey Robinson. After a brief diversion into disco
Disco
Disco is a genre of dance music. Disco acts charted high during the mid-1970s, and the genre's popularity peaked during the late 1970s. It had its roots in clubs that catered to African American, gay, psychedelic, and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and...

 in the late-1970s, the Temptations settled into a form of an adult contemporary
Adult contemporary music
Adult contemporary music is a broad style of popular music that ranges from lush 1950s and 1960s vocal music to predominantly ballad-heavy music with varying degrees of rock influence, as well as a radio format that plays such music....

-rooted type of R&B, a style in which they continue to record.

Although the group continues to feature dancing as an important aspect of its act, as the ages of its members have increased, live shows have focused on less intricate choreography.

Legacy and influence


With their tailored suits and detailed choreography, The Temptations set the bar high for male soul and R&B groups of the period. Before the Temptations became popular, most black vocal groups were rough, high-energy acts featuring vocals which were more raw and dance movements which were more improvisational. Only a few performers, including contemporaries Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke
Samuel Cook, , better known under the stage name Sam Cooke, was an American gospel, R&B, soul, and pop singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. He is considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music. He is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocal abilities and...

, and the Four Tops, showed the refined style that would be popularized by the Temptations.

Producer Berry Gordy insisted that all his acts be equally appealing to both white as well as black audiences, and employed an extensive creative team to help tailor Motown talent for the crossover success he desired. Motown choreographer Cholly Atkins
Cholly Atkins
Charles “Cholly” Atkins was an American dancer and vaudeville performer, who later became noted as the house choreographer for the various artists on the Motown label.-Biography:...

 along with Paul Williams created the trademark precise and energetic, yet refined, dance steps used by the Temptations onstage. The most famous of these, the "Temptation Walk", or "Temptation Strut", was adapted from similar moves by the Flamingos
The Flamingos
The Flamingos were a doo wop group from the United States, most popular in the mid to late 1950s and best known for their 1959 cover version of "I Only Have Eyes for You".-Early quintet:...

 and the Vibrations
The Vibrations
The Vibrations were an African-American soul vocal group from Los Angeles, California, active from the mid-1950s to 1976. Most notable among the group's hit singles were "My Girl Sloopy" and "Love in Them Thar Hills"...

 and from those two sources, Cholly Atkins and Paul Williams crafted the resulting signature dance routine.

Like other similar independent companies of the period, Motown was neither a member of ASCAP nor BMI
Broadcast Music Incorporated
Broadcast Music, Inc. is one of three United States performing rights organizations, along with ASCAP and SESAC. It collects license fees on behalf of songwriters, composers, and music publishers and distributes them as royalties to those members whose works have been performed...

, preferring to stay independent and handling their own widely varied distribution through thousands of "Mom & Pop" record stores and small radio stations. Many singles that might have been charted higher did not have the data for the Billboard charts
Billboard charts
The Billboard charts tabulate the relative weekly popularity of songs or albums in the United States. The results are published in Billboard magazine...

 to evaluate, so it is quite possible that the Temptations sold more than a "Gold Record" number of most of their early records. Their stage work and depth of their lead singers made them legends throughout the northern cities as well as the southern "chitlin' circuit
Chitlin' circuit
The "Chitlin' Circuit" was the collective name given to the string of performance venues throughout the eastern and southern United States that were safe and acceptable for African-American musicians, comedians, and other entertainers to perform during the age of racial segregation in the United...

", before being acknowledged by most radio disc jockey
Disc jockey
A disc jockey, also known as DJ, is a person who selects and plays recorded music for an audience. Originally, "disc" referred to phonograph records, not the later Compact Discs. Today, the term includes all forms of music playback, no matter the medium.There are several types of disc jockeys...

s as the strongest group around.

During the 1960s and 1970s, a number of soul groups showed significant influence from the Temptations, among them the Delfonics
The Delfonics
The Delfonics are a pioneering Philadelphia soul singing group, most popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their most notable hits include "La-La ", "Didn't I ", "Break Your Promise," "I'm Sorry," and "Ready or Not Here I Come "...

, the Chi-Lites
The Chi-Lites
The Chi-Lites are a Chicago-based smooth soul vocal quartet from the early 1970s, one of the few from the period not to come from Memphis or Philadelphia...

, Parliaments
The Parliaments
The Parliaments were a doo-wop quintet from Plainfield, New Jersey, formed in the back room of a barbershop in the late 1950s and named after the cigarette brand. After some early personnel changes their lineup solidified with George Clinton, Ray Davis, Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon, and Grady Thomas...

, featuring George Clinton
George Clinton (musician)
George Clinton is an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and music producer and the principal architect of P-Funk. He was the mastermind of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic during the 1970s and early 1980s, and launched a solo career in 1981. He has been cited as one of the foremost...

, the Dramatics
The Dramatics
The Dramatics are an American soul music vocal group, formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1962. They are best known for their 1970s hit songs "In the Rain" and "Whatcha See is Whatcha Get", both of which were #1 R&B and Top 10 Pop hits.-Career:The Dramatics originally formed in 1962 recording as the...

, Daryl Hall & John Oates (from 1965 to 1967 one of Daryl Hall's earliest bands was named The Temptones), and Motown labelmates the Jackson 5
The Jackson 5
The Jackson 5 , later known as The Jacksons, were an American popular music family group from Gary, Indiana...

 and The Undisputed Truth
The Undisputed Truth
The Undisputed Truth was a 1970s Motown recording act, assembled by record producer Norman Whitfield as a means for being able to experiment with his psychedelic soul production techniques...

. These acts, and others, showed the influence of the Temptations in both their vocal performances and their onstage choreography. Several more recent soul and R&B vocal groups, including the New Edition
New Edition
New Edition is an R&B group formed in Boston in 1978. The group reached its height of popularity during the 1980s. They were the progenitors of the boy band movement of the 1980s and 1990s and led the way for groups like New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync...

 led by Johnny Gill
Johnny Gill
Johnny Gill is an American R&B singer-songwriter. He is the sixth and final member of the R&B supergroup New Edition, and was also a member of another supergroup called LSG; with Gerald Levert and Keith Sweat. His signature song "My, My, My" has been included on numerous romantic...

, Jodeci
Jodeci
Jodeci is an American band, whose repertoire includes R&B, soul music, and new jack swing. The group consists of two pairs of brothers from Hampton, Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina: Cedric & Joel Hailey and Donald & Dalvin DeGrate, all respectively known by their stage names: K-Ci & Jojo,...

, BLACKstreet
BLACKstreet
Blackstreet is an American R&B group founded in 1991 by Thomas Taliaferro and Teddy Riley, the inventor of New Jack Swing known for his work as a member of Guy. Chauncey Hannibal and Levi Little were signed under production and management contracts with Thomas Taliaferro and were merged into what...

, Dru Hill
Dru Hill
Dru Hill is an American singing group, most popular during the late 1990s, whose repertoire included R&B, soul, and gospel music. Founded in Baltimore, Maryland, and active since 1992, Dru Hill recorded seven Top 40 hits, and is best known for the R&B #1 hits "In My Bed", "Never Make a Promise", ...

, and, most notably, Boyz II Men
Boyz II Men
Boyz II Men is an American R&B vocal group best known for emotional ballads and a cappella harmonies. They are the most successful R&B group of all time, having sold more than albums worldwide. In the 1990s, Boyz II Men found fame on Motown Records as a quartet, but original member Michael McCary...

 in the 90's also showed significant influence from the Temptations.

It is interesting to note that during the early part of their career, their main competition came from Impressions featuring Curtis Mayfield
Curtis Mayfield
Curtis Lee Mayfield was an American soul, R&B, and funk singer, songwriter, and record producer.He is best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly, Mayfield is highly...

; then during the phase of the group featuring alternating leads, competition came from Sam & Dave
Sam & Dave
Sam & Dave were an American soul and rhythm and blues duo who performed together from 1961 through 1981. The tenor voice was Samuel David Moore , and the baritone/tenor voice was Dave Prater .Sam & Dave are members of...

, the Chi-Lites. In their next phase, competition came from the O'Jays
The O'Jays
The O'Jays are an American R&B group from Canton, Ohio, formed in 1963 and originally consisting of Eddie Levert , Walter Williams , William Powell , Bobby Massey and Bill Isles. The O'Jays were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005...

. In each case, each group alternated between love songs and songs with messages in their lyrics.

Temptations songs have been covered by scores of musicians, from R&B singers such as Luther Vandross
Luther Vandross
Luther Ronzoni Vandross was an American singer-songwriter and record producer. During his career, Vandross sold over twenty-five million albums and won eight Grammy Awards including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance four times...

 ("Since I Lost My Baby"), to pop vocalists such as Bette Midler
Bette Midler
Bette Midler is an American singer, actress, and comedian, also known by her informal stage name, The Divine Miss M. She became famous as a cabaret and concert headliner, and went on to star in successful and acclaimed films such as The Rose, Ruthless People, Beaches, and For The Boys...

 ("Just My Imagination"), to rock bands such as Rare Earth
Rare Earth (band)
Rare Earth is an American rock band affiliated with Motown's Rare Earth record label , who prospered in 1970-1972. Although not the first white band signed to Motown, Rare Earth was the first big hit-making act signed by Motown that consisted only of white members...

 ("Get Ready"), Anthrax
Anthrax (band)
Anthrax is an American heavy metal band from New York City, formed in 1981. Founded by guitarists Scott Ian and Danny Lilker, the band has since released ten studio albums and 20 singles, and an EP featuring Public Enemy. The band was one of the most popular of the 1980s thrash metal scene...

, Love and Rockets
Love and Rockets (band)
Love and Rockets were an English alternative rock band formed in 1985 by former Bauhaus members Daniel Ash , David J , and Kevin Haskins . Former Bauhaus vocalist Peter Murphy had embarked on a solo career after Bauhaus split in 1983...

, Duran Duran
Duran Duran
Duran Duran are an English band, formed in Birmingham in 1978. They were one of the most successful bands of the 1980s and a leading band in the MTV-driven "Second British Invasion" of the United States...

 ("Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)") and the Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones are an English rock band, formed in London in April 1962 by Brian Jones , Ian Stewart , Mick Jagger , and Keith Richards . Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early line-up...

 ("My Girl", "Ain't Too Proud to Beg", "Just My Imagination") and Mick Jagger's collaboration with reggae artist Peter Tosh
Peter Tosh
Peter Tosh, born Winston Hubert McIntosh , was a Jamaican reggae musician who was a core member of the band The Wailers , and who afterward had a successful solo career as well as being a promoter of Rastafari.Peter Tosh was born in Grange Hill, Jamaica, an illegitimate child to a mother too young...

 on ("Don't Look Back"). In 1991, British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 singer Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart
Roderick David "Rod" Stewart, CBE is a British singer-songwriter and musician, born and raised in North London, England and currently residing in Epping. He is of Scottish and English ancestry....

 collaborated with the Temptations on the single "The Motown Song".

The lives and careers of The Temptations were one of several inspirations for The Five Heartbeats
The Five Heartbeats
The Five Heartbeats is a 1991 musical drama film directed by Robert Townsend, who co-wrote the script with Keenan Ivory Wayans. Distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film's main cast includes Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon Robinson, Harry J. Lennix, Tico Wells, Harold Nicholas of the Nicholas...

, a 1991 film about a 1960s Motown-esque male group starring Robert Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon
Leon Robinson
Leon Preston Robinson IV usually credited as simply Leon, is an American actor and singer, who began his professional career as an actor in 1981.-Personal life:...

, and Harry J. Lennix
Harry J. Lennix
Harry Joseph Lennix III is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as Terrence "Dresser" Williams in the Robert Townsend film The Five Heartbeats and as "Boyd Langton" in the Joss Whedon television show Dollhouse....

.

In 2004, Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

magazine ranked The Temptations #67 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Personnel


For a detailed listing of the various versions of The Temptations (and a timeline), see: Temptations chronology
Temptations chronology
This page is a chronology of the Motown singing group The Temptations. It lists the members of the group during all phasesof the group's history. While the Temptations have frequently changed their lineup, the group has always employed a person for each of the following roles:*main lead singer...

.

The Primes


aka The Cavaliers
  • Paul Williams
    Paul Williams (The Temptations)
    Paul Williams was an American baritone singer and choreographer. Williams is noted for being one of the founding members and original lead singer of the Motown group The Temptations...

     (1955–1960)
  • Eddie Kendricks
    Eddie Kendricks
    Eddie Kendricks was an American singer and songwriter. Noted for his distinctive falsetto singing style, Kendricks co-founded the Motown singing group The Temptations, and was one of their lead singers from 1960 until 1971. His was the lead voice on such famous songs as "The Way You Do The Things...

     (1955–1960)
  • Kell Osborne
    Kell Osborne
    Kell Osborne is an American singer best known as a member of The Primes a group which would later be known as The Temptations.-Early years:...

     (1955–1960)
  • Wiley Waller (1955–1957)

The Distants


aka Otis Williams & the Distants, Otis Williams & the Siberians
  • Otis Williams
    Otis Williams
    Otis Williams is an American baritone singer. Nicknamed "Big Daddy", he has also acted as a sporadic songwriter and record producer. Williams co-founded the Motown vocal group The Temptations in early 1960 as The Elgins, a group in which he continues to perform...

     (1958–1960)
  • Elbridge "Al" Bryant (1958–1960)
  • James "Pee-Wee" Crawford (1958–1959)
  • Vernard Plain (1958–1959)
  • Arthur Walton (1958–1959)
  • Melvin Franklin
    Melvin Franklin
    David Melvin English better known by the stage name Melvin Franklin, was an American bass singer. Franklin is best known for his role as a member of Motown singing group The Temptations from 1960 to 1994....

     (1959–1960)
  • Richard Street
    Richard Street
    Richard Allen Street is an American soul and R&B singer, most notable as a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1993...

     (1959–1960)
  • Albert "Mooch" Harrell (1959–1960)

The Temptations


aka The Elgins
  • Otis Williams
    Otis Williams
    Otis Williams is an American baritone singer. Nicknamed "Big Daddy", he has also acted as a sporadic songwriter and record producer. Williams co-founded the Motown vocal group The Temptations in early 1960 as The Elgins, a group in which he continues to perform...

     (1960–present)
  • Elbridge "Al" Bryant (1960–1963)
  • Melvin Franklin
    Melvin Franklin
    David Melvin English better known by the stage name Melvin Franklin, was an American bass singer. Franklin is best known for his role as a member of Motown singing group The Temptations from 1960 to 1994....

     (1960–1995)
  • Eddie Kendricks
    Eddie Kendricks
    Eddie Kendricks was an American singer and songwriter. Noted for his distinctive falsetto singing style, Kendricks co-founded the Motown singing group The Temptations, and was one of their lead singers from 1960 until 1971. His was the lead voice on such famous songs as "The Way You Do The Things...

     (1960–1971, 1982 reunion)
  • Paul Williams
    Paul Williams (The Temptations)
    Paul Williams was an American baritone singer and choreographer. Williams is noted for being one of the founding members and original lead singer of the Motown group The Temptations...

     (1960–1971)
  • David Ruffin
    David Ruffin
    Davis Eli "David" Ruffin was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of the Temptations from 1964 to 1968...

     (1964–1968, 1982 reunion)
  • Dennis Edwards
    Dennis Edwards
    Dennis Edwards is a soul and R&B singer, most noted for being one of Motown act The Temptations' lead singers replacing David Ruffin. He is the father of Issa Pointer, whose mother is Ruth Pointer of The Pointer Sisters.-Career:...

     (1968–1977, 1980–1984, 1987–1989)
  • Ricky Owens
    Ricky Owens
    Ricky Owens was an African-American R&B and soul singer better known as the first tenor and lead singer of the doo-wop/R&B group The Vibrations and, briefly, as member of The Temptations, the first replacement of original Temptations founding member Eddie Kendricks...

     (1971)
  • Richard Street
    Richard Street
    Richard Allen Street is an American soul and R&B singer, most notable as a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1993...

     (1971–1992)
  • Damon Harris
    Damon Harris
    Damon Harris is a three-time Grammy Award-winning African-American soul and R&B singer. He is most notable as a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1975. Twenty years old when he joined the group, Harris was the youngest member of The Temptations during his tenure in the group...

     (1971–1975)
  • Glenn Leonard
    Glenn Leonard
    Glenn Carl Leonard is an American R&B and soul singer best remembered for serving as the first tenor/secondary lead singer of the Motown quintet The Temptations from 1975 to 1983.-Biography:...

     (1975–1983)
  • Louis Price
    Louis Price
    Louis Bernhardt Price is an American R&B, soul singer, and actor notable for being the lead singer of the first post-Dennis Edwards led version of The Temptations from 1977 to 1980....

     (1977–1980)
  • Ron Tyson
    Ron Tyson
    Ron Tyson is an American tenor/falsetto singer and songwriter. Tyson is the current tenor for long-lived singing group The Temptations, filling the role made famous by Eddie Kendricks in the 1960s.-Biography:...

     (1983–present)
  • Ali-Ollie Woodson
    Ali-Ollie Woodson
    Ali-Ollie Woodson was an American R&B singer, songwriter, keyboardist and occasional actor. He was known for singing with The Temptations beginning in 1984, and also worked with Aretha Franklin and Bill Pinkney....

     (1984–1987, 1989–1997)
  • Theo Peoples
    Theo Peoples
    Theo Peoples is an African-American R&B/soul singer. The son of a preacher, he was discovered by Ron Tyson and tapped to replace Richard Street in the long-lived Motown group The Temptations in 1992.His first recordings with the group were released in the box set Emperors of Soul where he sang lead...

     (1992–1998)
  • Ray Davis
    Ray Davis (musician)
    Raymond "Ray" Davis was the original bass singer and one of the founding members of The Parliaments, Parliament, and Funkadelic. His regular nickname while he was with those groups was "Sting Ray Davis". Aside from George Clinton, he was the only original member of the Parliaments not to leave the...

     (1994–1995)
  • Harry McGilberry
    Harry McGilberry
    Harry McGilberry was an American R&B and soul singer and latter-day bass singer for The Temptations between 1995 and 2003....

     (1995–2003)
  • Terry Weeks
    Terry Weeks
    Terry Wayne Weeks is an American R&B and soul singer who is currently one of the lead singers of the legendary Motown quintet The Temptations....

     (1997–present)
  • Barrington "Bo" Henderson (1998–2003)
  • G. C. Cameron
    G. C. Cameron
    George Curtis "G.C." Cameron is an American soul and R&B singer. G.C. is credited with having "six different voices."-The Spinners:...

     (2003–2007)
  • Joe Herndon
    Joe Herndon
    Walter Joseph Herndon is an American R&B and soul singer, former bass singer of a version of doo-wop group The Spaniels and the current bass singer for The Temptations.-Biography:...

     (2003–present)
  • Bruce Williamson
    Bruce Williamson (singer)
    Bruce Williamson is an American R&B and soul singer; currently a lead singer for The Temptations.-Biography:Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Bruce started singing in church at a young age. Williamson said the love for music began after experiencing jealousy with a cousin of his...

     (2007–present)

U.S. and UK Top Ten singles


The following singles reached the Top Ten of either the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 pop singles chart or the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 pop singles chart. Also included are the singles that hit No. 1 on the US R&B charts.
Year Song title US Top 10 UK Top 10 R&B No. 1
1965: "My Girl" 1 - 1
1966: "Get Ready" 29 10 1
1966: "Ain't Too Proud to Beg
Ain't Too Proud to Beg
"Ain't Too Proud to Beg" is a 1966 song and hit single by The Temptations for Motown Records' Gordy label, produced by Norman Whitfield and written by Whitfield and Edward Holland, Jr. The song peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Pop Chart, and was a number-one hit on the Billboard R&B charts for...

"
13 - 1
1966: "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
Beauty is Only Skin Deep
"Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" is a 1966 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy label. Written by Norman Whitfield and Edward Holland, Jr., and produced by Whitfield, the song was a number three pop hit and a number one R&B hit in the United States.The song's theme is inner beauty, and...

"
3 - 1
1966: "(I Know) I'm Losing You
(I Know) I'm Losing You
" I'm Losing You" is a 1966 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy label and produced by Norman Whitfield.- History :...

"
8 - 1
1967: "All I Need
All I Need (The Temptations song)
"All I Need" is a 1967 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy label. It is the group's first single to be produced by Norman Whitfield's protégé Frank Wilson. Written by Wilson, Edward Holland, Jr. and R...

"
8 26 2
1967: "You're My Everything" 6 - 3
1967: "I Wish It Would Rain
I Wish It Would Rain
"I Wish It Would Rain" is a 1967 song recorded by the Temptations for the Motown label and produced by Norman Whitfield.-Background:...

"
4 - 1
1968: "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)
I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)
"I Could Never Love Another " is a single recorded by The Temptations and released on Motown Records' Gordy label during the spring of 1968...

"
13 - 1
1968 "Cloud Nine
Cloud Nine (The Temptations song)
"Cloud Nine" is a 1968 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Motown label. It was the first of their singles to feature Dennis Edwards instead of David Ruffin in the lineup, was the first of producer Norman Whitfield's psychedelic soul tracks, and won Motown its first Grammy Award...

"
6 - 2
1968: "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
"I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" is a soul song most popularly released as a joint single performed by Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations for the Motown label...

"
(Diana Ross & the Supremes
The Supremes
The Supremes, an American female singing group, were the premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s.Originally founded as The Primettes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959, The Supremes' repertoire included doo-wop, pop, soul, Broadway show tunes, psychedelic soul, and disco...

 and the Temptations)
2 2 1
1969: "Run Away Child, Running Wild
Runaway Child, Running Wild
"Runaway Child, Running Wild" is a 1969 hit single for the Gordy label, performed by The Temptations and produced by Norman Whitfield...

"
6 - 1
1969: "I Can't Get Next to You
I Can't Get Next to You
"I Can't Get Next to You" is a 1969 number-one single recorded by The Temptations and produced by Norman Whitfield for the Gordy label. The song was the number-one single on the Billboard Top Pop Singles chart for two weeks in 1969, from October 11 to October 25, replacing "Sugar, Sugar" by The...

"
1 - 1
1970: "Psychedelic Shack
Psychedelic Shack (song)
"Psychedelic Shack" is a 1969 single for the Motown label performed by The Temptations and produced by Norman Whitfield. It became a hit single in 1970....

"
7 - 2
1970: "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)
Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today)
"Ball of Confusion " is a 1970 hit single for The Temptations. It was released on the Gordy label, and produced by Norman Whitfield....

"
3 7 2
1971: "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)
Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)
"Just My Imagination " is a song by American soul group The Temptations. Released on the Gordy label, and produced by Norman Whitfield, it features on the group's 1971 album, Sky's the Limit. When released as a single, "Just My Imagination" became the third Temptations song to reach number one on...

"
1 8 1
1972: "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
"Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" is a soul song, written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong as a single for Motown act The Undisputed Truth in 1971...

"
1 - 5
1973: "Masterpiece" 7 - 1
1973: "Let Your Hair Down" - - 1
1974: "Happy People" - - 1
1975: "Shakey Ground" - - 1
1991: "The Motown Song"
(Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart
Roderick David "Rod" Stewart, CBE is a British singer-songwriter and musician, born and raised in North London, England and currently residing in Epping. He is of Scottish and English ancestry....

 featuring The Temptations)
10 - -
1992: "My Girl" (reissue) - 2 -

Top Ten albums


The following albums reached the Top Ten on either the United States pop or R&B albums charts or the United Kingdom pop albums chart
  • 1965: The Temptations Sing Smokey
    The Temptations Sing Smokey
    The Temptations Sing Smokey is a 1965 album by The Temptations for the label. As its name implies, it is composed entirely of songs written and produced by Smokey Robinson, and several other members of the Miracles as well....

    (R&B #1)
  • 1965: The Temptin' Temptations
    The Temptin' Temptations
    The Temptin' Temptations is a 1965 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. The album includes several of the group's hits from 1965, and also includes a handful of singles that were not included on the Temptations' first 1965 album, The Temptations Sing Smokey...

    (R&B #1)
  • 1966: Gettin' Ready
    Gettin' Ready
    Gettin' Ready is a 1966 album by The Temptations for the label. It marks the transition of the group from having Smokey Robinson as its main producer, with new producer Norman Whitfield taking over Robinson's position...

    (R&B #1)
  • 1966: Greatest Hits (R&B #1) (US #5)
  • 1967: Temptations Live!
    Temptations Live!
    Temptations Live! was the first live album to be released by The Temptations. Recorded on October 3, 1966 in the Upper Deck of the Roostertail club in Detroit, Michigan, and released on album by Gordy Records in 1967, the album features David Ruffin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin...

    (R&B #1) (US #10)
  • 1967: The Temptations with a Lot o' Soul
    The Temptations with a Lot o' Soul
    The Temptations with a Lot 'o Soul is a 1967 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. Featuring four hit singles, With a Lot o' Soul is the most successful Temptations album from their "classic 5" era, during which David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis...

    (R&B #1) (US #7)
  • 1967: The Temptations in a Mellow Mood
    The Temptations in a Mellow Mood
    The Temptations in a Mellow Mood is a 1967 album by The Temptations for the Motown label. Composed primarily of pop standards such as "Ol' Man River" and "For Once in My Life", and similar songs written by Holland-Dozier-Holland and other Motown staff songwriters, the Mellow Mood album was part of...

    (R&B #1)
  • 1968: The Temptations Wish It Would Rain
    The Temptations Wish It Would Rain
    The Temptations Wish It Would Rain is a 1968 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. It was the final release from the group's "Classic-5" era, during which David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams constituted the Temptations' lineup.Wish It Would...

    (R&B #1)
  • 1968: The Temptations Show
    The Temptations Show
    The Temptations Show was a 1969 television special starring The Temptations and produced by Motown Productions. Produced for syndication, The Temptations Show guest-starred George Kirby and Kay Stevens, and featured performances of Temptations songs and pop standards such as "Get Ready", "Ol' Man...

    (R&B #2)
  • 1968: Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations
    Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations
    Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations is, as the title implies, a collaborative album combining Motown's two best selling groups, Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations. Issued by Motown in late 1968 to coincide with the broadcast of the Supremes/Temptations TCB television special,...

    (with Diana Ross & The Supremes) (R&B #1) (US #2)
  • 1968: TCB (with Diana Ross & The Supremes) (R&B #1) (US #1)
  • 1968: Live at the Copa (R&B #2)
  • 1969: Cloud Nine (R&B #1) (US #4)
  • 1969: Puzzle People
    Puzzle People
    Puzzle People is a 1969 album recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy label. Entirely produced by Norman Whitfield, Puzzle People takes the next step along the path that Cloud Nine started, and takes the Temptations further away from a classic soul sound, and more towards the realm of...

    (R&B #1) (US #5)
  • 1969: Together (R&B #6)
  • 1969: On Broadway
    G.I.T. on Broadway
    G.I.T. on Broadway was a 1969 live television special produced by Motown Productions and George Schlatter-Ed Friendly Productions. The special, a follow-up to 1968's successful TCB program, was a musical revue starring Motown's two most popular groups at the time, Diana Ross & the Supremes and The...

    (R&B #4)
  • 1970: Psychedelic Shack
    Psychedelic Shack (album)
    Psychedelic Shack is a 1970 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label, which represents the Temptations' full-blown submergence into psychedelia...

    (R&B #1) (US #9)
  • 1970: Live at London's Talk of the Town (R&B #5)
  • 1970: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (R&B #2)
  • 1971: Sky's the Limit (R&B #2)
  • 1972: Solid Rock (R&B #1)
  • 1972: All Directions
    All Directions
    -Personnel:* Dennis Edwards: vocals* Damon Harris: vocals* Richard Street: vocals* Melvin Franklin: vocals* Otis Williams: vocals* The Andantes: Additional background vocals on "Love Woke Me Up This Morning"* Norman Whitfield: producer...

    (R&B #1) (US #2)
  • 1973: Masterpiece
    Masterpiece (Temptations album)
    Masterpiece is a 1973 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label, produced and written by Norman Whitfield.-Overview:The title refers to the album being not the group's intended masterpiece, but Whitfield's...

    (R&B #1) (US #7)
  • 1973: Anthology (R&B #5)
  • 1973: 1990 (R&B #2)
  • 1975: A Song for You (R&B #1)
  • 1975: Wings of Love
    Wings of Love
    Wings of Love is a 1976 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. The album was an unsuccessful release, both commercially and critically...

    (R&B #3)
  • 1976: The Temptations Do The Temptations
    The Temptations Do the Temptations
    The Temptations Do the Temptations is a 1976 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label. The album was the group's final release from its original Motown tenure; the Temptations terminated their Motown contract during the recording of this album...

    (R&B #10)
  • 1982: Reunion (R&B #2)
  • 1984: Truly for You
    Truly for You
    Truly for You is a 1984 album by The Temptations for the Gordy label, featuring the debut of new lead singer Ali-Ollie Woodson in Dennis Edwards' place...

    (R&B #3)
  • 1986: To Be Continued (R&B #4)

Filmography

  • 1973: Save the Children
    Save the Children
    Save the Children is an internationally active non-governmental organization that enforces children's rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries...

  • 1987: Happy New Year
    Happy New Year (1987 film)
    Happy New Year is a 1987 film directed by John G. Avildsen. The screenplay was written by Warren Lane, based on the French film La bonne année. The director of the French film, Claude Lelouch, has a cameo as a man on a train....

  • 2007: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
    Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
    Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a 2007 music comedy film written and produced by Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan, directed by Kasdan and starring John C. Reilly...

     

Television work

  • 1985: The Fall Guy
    The Fall Guy
    The Fall Guy is an American action/adventure television program produced for ABC and originally broadcast from November 4, 1981 to May 2, 1986. It starred Lee Majors, Douglas Barr, and Heather Thomas. Majors and Barr are the only two actors to appear in all 112 episodes of the series...

    (TV episode "Rockabye Baby", February 13, 1985)
  • 1985: The Love Boat
    The Love Boat
    The Love Boat is an American television series set on a cruise ship, which aired on the ABC Television Network from September 24,1977, until May 24,1986.The show starred Gavin MacLeod as the ship's captain...

    (TV episode "Your Money or Your Wife/Joint Custody/The Temptations", October 5, 1985)
  • 1986: Moonlighting
    Moonlighting (TV series)
    Moonlighting is an American television series that aired on ABC from March 3, 1985, to May 14, 1989. The network aired a total of 66 episodes...

    (TV episode "Symphony in Knocked Flat", October 21, 1986)
  • 1986: 227
    227 (TV series)
    227 is an American situation comedy that originally aired on NBC from September 14, 1985, until May 6, 1990. The series starred Marla Gibbs as a sharp-tongued, inner-city resident gossip and housewife, Mary Jenkins...

    (TV episode "Temptations", November 15, 1986)
  • 1990: Murphy Brown
    Murphy Brown
    Murphy Brown is an American situation comedy which aired on CBS from November 14, 1988, to May 18, 1998, for a total of 247 episodes. The program starred Candice Bergen as the eponymous Murphy Brown, a famous investigative journalist and news anchor for FYI, a fictional CBS television...

    (TV episode "Goin' to the Chapel, Part 2", May 21, 1990)
  • 1990: performed CBS
    CBS
    CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

     network's 1990-91 version of their
    Get Ready campaign with an updated version of "Get Ready".
  • 1993: Getting By
    Getting By
    Getting By is an American sitcom produced by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett, with the format created by William Bickley and Michael Warren. The show debuted on ABC's TGIF block, running its first twelve-episode season from March 5, 1993 through May 21, 1993. Shortly after the spring season...

    (TV episode "Reach for the Stars", November 23, 1993)
  • 1996: New York Undercover
    New York Undercover
    New York Undercover is an American police drama that aired on the FOX television network from 1994 to 1998. The series starred Malik Yoba as Detective J.C. Williams and Michael DeLorenzo as Detective Eddie Torres, two undercover detectives in New York City's 4th Precinct who were assigned to...

    (TV episode "Deep Cover", May 2, 1996)
  • 2008: Friday Night with Jonathan Ross
    Friday Night with Jonathan Ross
    Friday Night with Jonathan Ross was a British comedy chat show presented by Jonathan Ross. It was first broadcast on BBC One on 2 November 2001. The programme featured Ross's take on current topics of conversation, guest interviews and live music from both a guest music group and the house band...

    (TV appearance), March 7, 2008

Video and DVD releases

  • 1991: The Temptations - Live in Concert
  • 2004: 20th century Masters - The Best of the Temptations
  • 2006: Get Ready: The Definitive Performances - 1965–1972
  • 2007: The Temptations - Live In London (1987)

External links