The Temptations are an American vocal group who released a series of successful singles and albums with Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s. The group’s work with producer Norman Whitfield, beginning with the Top 10 hit single “Cloud Nine” in October 1968, pioneered psychedelic soul, and was significant in the evolution of R&B and soul music. The band members are known for their choreography, distinct harmonies, and dress style. Having sold tens of millions of albums, the Temptations are among the most successful groups in popular music.
Featuring five male vocalists and dancers (save for brief periods with fewer or more members), the group formed in 1960 in Detroit, Michigan under the name The Elgins. The founding members came from two rival Detroit vocal groups: Otis Williams, Elbridge “Al” Bryant, and Melvin Franklin of Otis Williams & the Distants, and Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams of the Primes. In 1964, Bryant was replaced by David Ruffin, who was the lead vocalist on a number of the group’s biggest hits, including “My Girl” (1964), “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” (1966), and “I Wish It Would Rain” (1967). Ruffin was replaced in 1968 by Dennis Edwards, with whom the group continued to record hit records such as “Cloud Nine” (1969) and “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” (1970). The group’s lineup has changed frequently since the departures of Kendricks and Paul Williams from the act in 1971. Later members of the group have included singers such as Richard Street, Damon Harris, Ron Tyson, and Ali-Ollie Woodson, with whom the group scored a late-period hit in 1984 with “Treat Her Like a Lady”.
Over the course of their career, the Temptations released four Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles and fourteen R&B number-one singles. Their music has earned three Grammy Awards. The Temptations were the first Motown recording act to win a Grammy Award – for “Cloud Nine” in 1969 – and in 2013 received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Six of the Temptations (Edwards, Franklin, Kendricks, Ruffin, Otis Williams and Paul Williams) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Three classic Temptations songs, “My Girl”, “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)”, and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”, are among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The Temptations were ranked at number 68 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of all time.
Otis Williams (born Otis Miles Jr.; October 30, 1941) is an American baritone singer. Nicknamed “Big Daddy”, he is occasionally also a songwriter and a record producer. Williams is the founder and last surviving original member of the Motown vocal group The Temptations, a group in which he continues to perform; he also owns the rights to the Temptations name.
Edward James Kendrick (December 17, 1939 – October 5, 1992), best known by the stage name 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 You Do”, “Get Ready”, and “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)”. As a solo artist, Kendricks recorded several hits of his own during the 1970s, including the number-one single “Keep on Truckin'”.
Paul Williams (July 2, 1939 – August 17, 1973) was an American baritone singer and choreographer. Williams was noted for being one of the founding members and original lead singer of the Motown group The Temptations. Along with Elbridge “Al” Bryant, Otis Williams, and fellow Alabamians Eddie Kendricks and Melvin Franklin, Williams was a member of The Temptations during the “Classic Five” period. Personal problems and failing health forced Williams to retire in 1971. He was found dead two years later as the result of an apparent suicide.
David Melvin English (October 12, 1942 – February 23, 1995) better known by the stage name Melvin Franklin, or his nickname “Blue”, was an American bass singer. Franklin was best known for his role as a founding member of Motown singing group The Temptations from 1960 to 1994.
Elbridge “Al” Bryant (September 28, 1939 – October 26, 1975) was an American tenor, and one of the founding members of Motown singing group The Temptations.
David Eli Ruffin (born Davis Eli Ruffin, January 18, 1941 – June 1, 1991) was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of The Temptations (1964–68) during the group’s “Classic Five” period as it was later known. He was the lead voice on such famous songs as “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”.
Dennis Edwards Jr. (February 3, 1943 – February 1, 2018) was an American soul and R&B singer who was best known as the frontman in The Temptations, on Motown Records. Edwards joined the Temptations in 1968, replacing David Ruffin and sang with the group from 1968 to 1976, 1980 to 1984 and 1987 to 1989. In the mid-1980s, he attempted a solo career, scoring a hit in 1984 with “Don’t Look Any Further” (featuring Siedah Garrett). Until his death, Edwards was the lead singer of The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards, a Temptations splinter group.