The Temptations

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The "Classic 5" lineup of The Temptations, circa 1965. Left to right: Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, and David Ruffin.

The Temptations (also abbreviated as "The Tempts" or "The Temps") are an American Motown singing group whose repertoire has included doo-wop, soul, psychedelia, funk, disco, R&B, and adult contemporary. Formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1960 as The Elgins, The Temptations have always featured five African-American male vocalists/dancers. The group, known for its finely tuned choreography, distinct harmonies, and stylish suits, has been said to be as influential to soul as The Beatles are to rock [1] ( Having sold an estimated 22 million albums by 1982 [2] (, The Temptations are the most successful group in black music history [3] ( and were the definitive male vocal group of the 1960s [4] ( In addition, they have the second-longest tenure on Motown (behind Stevie Wonder), as they were with the label for a total of 40 years: 16 years from 1961 to 1977, and 24 more from 1980 to 2004 (from 1977 to 1980, they were signed to Atlantic Records). As of 2005, The Temptations continue to perform as an independent act with only one original member, founder Otis Williams, in its lineup.

Like its sister group The Supremes, The Temptations' lineup has changed frequently over the years. The original group included members of two local Detroit vocal groups: second tenor/baritone Otis Williams, first tenor Elbridge "Al" Bryant and bass Melvin Franklin from The Distants; and first tenor/falsetto Eddie Kendricks and second tenor Paul Williams (no relation to Otis) from The Primes. Among the most notable future Temptations were lead singers David Ruffin and Dennis Edwards (both of whom became successful Motown solo artists after leaving the group), Richard Street (another former Distant), Damon Harris, Ron Tyson, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Theo Peoples, and G.C. Cameron.

Over the course of their career, The Temptations have released four #1 pop hit singles and 14 #1 R&B hit singles. Their material has earned them three Grammy Awards, while two more awards were conferred upon the songwriters and producers who crafted their seminal 1972 hit "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone".



The Primes and The Distants

The Primes

Birmingham, Alabama teenagers Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Kel Osbourne, and Wiley Waller, who all shared a love of singing, formed a doo-wop group called The Caviliers 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, 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, recruiting junior high schoolers Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diane Ross, and Betty McGlown for the spin-off act.

The Distants

Otis Williams had moved from Texarkana, Texas, to Detroit as a young boy. 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" backed with "All of My Life" for a label run by local dee-jay 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 native Melvin Franklin replaced Arthur Walton as the bass singer, and Franklin's cousin Richard Street replaced Vernard Plain as lead singer. The group soon signed with Northern Records, run by Jonnie Mae Matthews, who renamed the group The Distants. The Distants recorded two singles for Northern, "Come On" (1959, featuring additional background vocals by The Andantes), 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.

Influences and colleagues

The Primes and The Distants were but two of dozens of local male vocal acts, the most famous of which was The Miracles, led by Smokey Robinson. The Miracles were known for their excellent stage show, and their pop success was something for which both groups strived. Other important inspirations included The Cadillacs, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, The Drifters, and the Isley Brothers.

The various members of The Primes and The Distants who would later become part of The Temptations met a number of their later 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 and David Ruffin. The musicians at the recording session for the Distants' "Come On" included James Jamerson on bass; The Andantes on background vocals; and, on tambourine, Norman Whitfield.

Forming The Temptations

Although "Come On" sold decently in the Detroit area, the Distants never saw much of their share from the record sales, and the second single was not as successful. After receiving an offer from Berry Gordy of Motown Records, 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 for the local Thelma label during the early 1960s.

The Distants were acquainted with The Primes, as both groups made the same rounds to local record hops, talent shows, and concerts. The two groups were friendly rivals. Kel Osbourne left the Primes and moved to California, and Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams returned to Alabama. While in Detroit visiting relatives, Eddie Kendricks called Otis Williams, who, needing two more members for an audition for Gordy, offered Kendricks a place in the Distants. Kendricks agreed, with one condition — that he could bring Paul Williams with him. Otis Williams agreed, and Kendricks and Paul Williams moved back to Detroit to join the group.

The new lineup of Otis Williams, Franklin, Bryant, Kendricks, and Paul Williams took on the name The Elgins and auditioned for Motown in March 1961. Gordy agreed to sign the group to his Miracle Records imprint, but discovered just before signing that there was already a singing group called The Elgins. The quintet quickly began tossing about ideas for a new name on the steps of Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. headquarters with Miracle Records employee Billy Mitchell, and Otis Williams' suggestion of The Temptations became the group's new moniker.

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The cover of The Temptations' first LP, 1964's Meet The Temptations.

Early years

The Temptations released two singles on Miracle before it was closed and merged with the Gordy label (to avoid confusion with The Miracles singing group). All seven of The Temptations' singles released between 1961 and 1963 failed to make it onto the US pop singles charts; the 1962 single "Dream Come True" made it to #22 on the R&B chart. Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks split most of the leads during this period, with Al Bryant, Otis Williams, and Melvin Franklin occasionally singing lead. Bryant, who preferred his day job as a milkman to performing, soon became restless and uncooperative. After a performance at the 1963 Motown company Christmas party, Bryant was fired from the group. His replacement was David Ruffin, younger brother of Motown artist Jimmy Ruffin.

Many songwriter and producer teams had been trying to craft a hit for The Temptations, including Berry Gordy, Mickey Stevenson, Clarence Paul, and Norman Whitfield. Gordy had in fact written the sure-fire hit "Do You Love Me" for The Temptations in 1961, but when he was unable to get a hold of the group, he recorded the song with The Contours instead.

Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson produced his first Temptations single, the Paul Williams-led "I Want a Love I Can See", in 1963, and proved to have the best rapport with the group. In January 1964, Robinson co-wrote and produced "The Way You Do the Things You Do" with Kendricks on lead; the single became The Temptations' first Top 20 hit that April. While traveling as part of Motown's Motortown Revue later that year, Robinson and fellow Miracle Ronald White wrote a song for the emotive Ruffin to sing lead on, which The Temptations recorded in the fall of 1964. That song, "My Girl," became The Temptations’ first #1 pop hit in March 1965, and is today their signature song. Ruffin also sung lead on the next three Temptations singles, "It's Growing", "Since I Lost My Baby" and "My Baby", all of which made it to the Top 20 in 1965. The b-side to "My Baby", "Don't Look Back", featured a lead from Paul Williams, and was a sleeper hit on the charts.

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The cover to the 1967 LP The Temptations With a Lot O' Soul.

Enter Norman Whitfield

In 1966, Norman Whitfield became The Temptations' new main producer, after his "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" performed better than Smokey Robinson's "Get Ready" on the US pop charts.

Nearly all of the pre-1968 Whitfield-produced Temptations singles featured David Ruffin on lead vocals, including the R&B #1/pop Top 10 hits "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You". Other singles from this prolific period included "You're My Everything", on which Ruffin and Kendricks share lead vocals, and "All I Need", produced by Whitfield's protιgι Frank Wilson. Whitfield's writing partners during this period included Roger Penzabene, Cornelius Grant, and Edward Holland, Jr.. Barrett Strong, the singer on Motown's first hit, "Money (That's What I Want)", had first worked with Whitfield on "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby", from the 1966 Getting Ready album. Strong would collaborate with Whitfield on every Temptations hit from "I Wish It Would Rain" in December 1967 until the end of 1972.

Initial impact

Between 1964 and 1968, The Temptations went from unknown hopefuls to international stars. The group appeared frequently on television shows such as American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show, and catered to middle America with a pop standards album (The Temptations in a Mellow Mood, 1967) and performances at the Copacabana in New York City and other such supper clubs.

The Temptations' sophisticated soul, with their tailored suits and tight choreography, set the bar for male soul and R&B groups. Before The Temptations became popular, most black vocal groups were rough, high-energy acts with rawer vocals and more improvisational dance movements. Only a few performers, including contemporaries Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke, showed the refined style that would be popularized by The Temptations.

Berry Gordy insisted his acts be equally appealing to white and black audiences, and employed a creative team to help tailor Motown talent for crossover success. Paul Williams and Motown choreographer Cholly Atkins created The Temptation's trademark precise and energetic, yet refined, dance steps. The most famous of these, the "Temptation Walk", or "Temptation Strut", was adapted from similar moves by a 1950s act called The Flamingos and a 1960s act called The Vibrations. From those two sources, Paul Williams crafted the group's signature dance routine.

Many soul and R&B vocal groups, including 1970s Motown act The Jackson 5, the Johnny Gill-led version of New Edition, Jodeci, Blackstreet, Dru Hill, and, perhaps most notably, 1990s Motown act Boyz II Men showed significant influence from The Temptations.

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The 1968 photograph used for this greatest-hits cover features then-new Temptations lead singer Dennis Edwards (third from left in back row).

Exit David Ruffin

David Ruffin felt that he was almost single-handedly responsible for the group's success. He demanded special treatment, riding to and from gigs in a private mink-lined limousine with his then-girlfriend, singer Tammi Terrell (well-known for her duets with Marvin Gaye), instead of in the group limousine the other four Temptations used. There were problems that affected group morale and performances, as well. He missed a number of rehearsals, concerts, and group meetings; and began regularly using cocaine. In addition, Ruffin wanted top billing. After seeing how Motown had made Diana Ross the focus of The Supremes by renaming the group "Diana Ross & the Supremes", Ruffin demanded that his group be renamed, as well — to "David Ruffin & the Temptations."

There was general agreement among the rest of The Temptations that Ruffin needed to be replaced. When Ruffin missed a June 1968 engagment at a Cleveland, Ohio supper club to instead attend a show performed by his new girlfriend (one of Dean Martin's daughters), it was decided that he had crossed the line. The other four Temptations drew up legal documentation firing Ruffin from the group, and Dennis Edwards, formerly of The Contours, was brought in as the new lead singer. Edwards and Ruffin were good friends, and Ruffin at first went along with the changing of the guard. Shortly afterward, however, Ruffin began turning up at The Temptations' shows, jumping onstage during performances of the songs he once sang lead on and stealing the spotlight. The audiences were delighted, but The Temptations and Motown were frustrated and embarrassed. Extra security guards were hired to prevent Ruffin from attending The Temptations' performances. Ruffin sued Motown in 1969, and Motown settled with Ruffin by offering him a solo recording contract.

Beginning in 1968, Berry Gordy commissioned a number of collaborations for The Temptations with their old colleagues Diana Ross & the Supremes, including a joint tour, two studio albums (Diana Ross & The Supremes Join The Temptations, which featured the #2 hit single "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me", and Together), and two NBC television specials, TCB (aired December 9, 1968) and G.I.T. on Broadway (aired November 12 1969).

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After the Grammy-wining single "Cloud Nine", record producer Norman Whitfield took The Temptations deep into psychedelic soul territory, including the LP Psychedelic Shack, released in 1970.

Psychedelic soul

In late 1968, Norman Whitfield began producing psychedelic-based material for The Temptations, based on the sound of funk band Sly & the Family Stone. This new style, which debuted with "Cloud Nine" in fall 1968, was a marked departure from the David Ruffin-era ballads. The instrumentation was funkier, the beat was hard-driving, and all five Temptations traded lead vocals ΰ la 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, for Best R&B Vocal Group Performance of 1969. The blending of the Motown sound and psychedelic rock sound resulted in a new subgenre of music called "psychedelic soul", also evident in the work of Diana Ross & the Supremes ("Reflections", "Love Child"), Marvin Gaye ("I Heard It Through The Grapevine"), and the music of The Fifth Dimension and War. More Temptations psychedelic soul singles would follow over the next two years, including "Runaway Child, Running Wild", the #1 pop hit "I Can't Get Next to You", and "Psychedelic Shack" in 1969, followed by "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today)" and "Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite the World)" (with "Hum Along and Dance" as a b-side) in 1970.

Exit Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams

Paul Williams had sickle-cell anemia and frequently was in poor health. By the late-1960s, he had developed alcoholism, and it became hard for him to continue with the group. Oxygen tanks were kept in the wings of performance venue stages for Williams, and the other four Temptations made valiant efforts to raid his alcohol stashes and drain his cognac bottles. At some Temptations performances, former Distant Richard Street, now lead singer of Motown act The Monitors, was called upon to sing Williams' parts from offstage, while Williams danced and lip-synced for the audience.

Eddie Kendricks was also becoming detached from the group, and sometimes would pick fights with Otis Wlliams and Melvin Franklin. In addition, Kendricks was uncomfortable with the psychedelic soul material the group was now performing, preferring the material from the earlier days. He began an association with David Ruffin, who convinced him to quit The Temptations and go solo. After another confrontation between himself, Williams, and Franklin during a November 1970 Copacabana engagement, Kendricks walked out in-between shows and did not return. It was then mutually decided that Eddie Kendricks would be leaving The Temptations.

Before Kendricks officially left the group, however, he and Paul Williams recorded the lead vocals for "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)", a lush, whistfull ballad that became Kendricks' Temptations swan-song. The "Just My Imagination" single was released in January 1971, and began steadily climbing the charts. By March, Kendricks had negotiated his release from the group and signed a solo deal with Motown's Tamla imprint. The same month, "Just My Imagination" became the #1 song in the country.

Kendricks' original replacement was to be Ricky Owens from The Vibrations, the same act from which the Temptations had adapted their signature Temptation Walk. However, Owens gave poorly received performances during the few shows he performed with the group, and he was dropped after only a few weeks. During most of the spring of 1971, the Temptations remained a quartet, and recorded the single "It's Summer" without a fifth member. By May, they had found a permanent replacement first tenor in twenty-year-old Damon Harris.

In April 1971, Paul Williams quit The Temptations, after a doctor declared that he was unable to continue performing. Richard Street officially took his place at that time, and Williams remained on The Temptations' payroll as an advisor and choreographer. After Williams had recovered enough to perform again, Motown made plans for a Paul Williams solo career, but Williams committed suicide on August 17, 1973.

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1972's All Directions album included The Temptations' Grammy-winning single "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone". Clockwise rom top: Melvin Franklin, Dennis Edwards, Damon Harris, Otis Williams, and Richard Street.

The Temptations in the early 1970s

Otis Williams, Dennis Edwards, Melvin Franklin, Richard Street, and Damon Harris continued recording and performing; and Norman Whitfield continued producing hits for them. Among these were the Top 40 hits "Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)" (1971), a message from The Temptations to the estranged David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, and "Take A Look Around" (1972).

1972 saw the release of Norman Whitfield's magnum opus, "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone". Originally a record Whitfield had written and produced for The Undisputed Truth, Whitfield took the somber tune and created a sprawling, dramatic twelve-minute version for The Temptations. An edited seven-minute version was released as a single in September 1972, hitting #1 on the pop charts and #5 on the R&B charts. In 1973, "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" won The Temptations their second Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Group. Whitfield and arranger/conductor Paul Riser won Best R&B Instrumental Performance with the instrumental version of "Papa" on the single's b-side, and Whitfield and Barrett Strong won the songwriters' Best R&B Song Award.

After "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone", Whitfield stopped working with Barrett Strong, and began writing and arranging The Temptations' material on his own. The success of "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" led him to create more elongated, operatic pieces, including the Top 40 hit "Masterpiece" (1973) and the tracks on the album it anchored, also called Masterpiece. Tensions developed between The Temptations and Whitfield. They felt Whitfield was arrogant and difficult to work with, and cited his habitual tardiness and his emphasis on his talents rather than those of the group as other another sources of conflict. The Temptations complained about Whitfield's actions to Berry Gordy, who intervened and reassigned them to producer Jeffery Bowen.

The final Norman Whitfield-produced Temptations album, 1990, was released in late 1973, and included the Top 30 single "Let Your Hair Down". Whitfield left Motown shortly afterwards, and in 1975 established Whitfield Records, taking with him The Undisputed Truth and Rose Royce, who performed the instrumental track for "Let Your Hair Down".

Dry spell

Bowen's first LP with The Temptations was 1975's A Song For You, which included a cover of the titular Leon Russell tune (popularized with soul audiences by Donny Hathaway), along with the pop Top 40/R&B #1 hits "Happy People" (featuring The Commodores as the instrumentalists) and "Shakey Ground" (featuring instrumentation by P-Funk's Eddie Hazel and his band), and the pop Top 40 hit "Glasshouse". Damon Harris was fired from the group during the recording of A Song for You, as his behavior and work ethic were deemed unprofessional; his replacement was Glenn Leonard.

A number of producers, including Bowen, Brian Holland, James Carmichael, and even The Temptations themselves tried producing hits for the next three LP's, House Party, Wings of Love, and The Temptations Do The Temptations, but each single performed worse than the last. Wings of Love's only single, "Up the Creek (Without a Paddle)" was co-written by Sly Stone, the inspiration for many of the Temptations' psychedelic soul records; because of tax reasons, he could not take a publishing credit on the song.

In 1977, The Temptations left Motown for Atlantic Records, citing Motown's inattention as the reason for their declining sales and popularity. Shortly after leaving Motown, Dennis Edwards left the group to begin a Motown solo career, which did not materialze at this time. The Atlantic Temptations releases, with Louis Price as the main lead vocalist in Edwards' place, did no better than their Motown releases. Berry Gordy fought to re-sign The Temptations to Motown, finally succeeding in 1980.

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The cover to the 1982 Temptations Reunion album. From left to right: David Ruffin, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Dennis Edwards, Richard Street, and Glenn Leonard.

Return to Motown and Reunion

Upon the return to Motown, Price departed from the group, and Dennis Edwards returned to the lineup. Berry Gordy co-wrote and produced The Temptations' first single under the new contract, "Power", which missed the Top 40 but hit #11 on the R&B charts. Two years of underperforming singles and albums followed until Motown began making plans for a Temptations reunion tour in 1982.

Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin, whose solo careers had by now run dry, agreed to re-join The Temptations for the Reunion album and tour. Melvin Franklin's nephew, Motown funk star Rick James, had used The Temptations as backup vocalists on his 1981 hit "Super Freak", and wrote, produced, and guest starred on the Reunion album's lead single, "Standing on the Top". The song, which featured Ruffin, Kendricks, and Dennis Edwards on lead, went to #6 on the R&B charts. The Reunion tour with all seven Temptations (Ruffin, Kendricks, Edwards, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Richard Street, and Glenn Leonard) was financially successful, but ended up a stressful venture: Kendricks' voice had weakened after decades of chain smoking, and Ruffin, still addicted to cocaine, missed a number of the performances. At the conclusion of the Reunion tour, Ruffin and Kendricks were fired, and they began touring and performing together as a duo. Glenn Leonard also left at this time, and was replaced by Ron Tyson.

From the 1980s to the 1990s

By this time, The Temptations' releases were no longer performing well on the pop charts, though they sometimes made the R&B Top 20. "Love on My Mind Tonight" made it to #17, and "Sail Away", produced by a returning Norman Whitfield, made it to #13. In 1984, Edwards left the group for a second chance at a solo career, and was replaced with Ali-Ollie Woodson. Woodson, who had been a potential candidate to replace Edwards back in 1977, sang lead on the #2 R&B hit "Treat Her Like A Lady", co-written by himself and Otis Williams. Woodson remained with The Temptations until 1987, when he was replaced by a returning (for the second time) Dennis Edwards.

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The cover to The Temptations' 1998 album Phoenix Rising.

Dennis Edwards left The Temptations for the third and final time in late 1989, with Ali-Ollie Woodson re-joining the lineup. The following year, Otis Williams published his autobiography, Temptations, which he co-authored with Patricia Romanowski. The book chronicled the careers of The Temptations from the Primes/Distants days to the present, focusing on the lives of Williams and his best friend Melvin Franklin. An updated version of the book was published in 2002.

In 1989, The Temptations were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, honoring Edwards, Franklin, Otis Williams, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendrick, and, posthumously, Paul Williams. After reuniting at the induction ceremony, Edwards, Ruffin, and Kendrick made plans to tour and record as "Ruffin/Kendrick/Edwards, Former Leads of The Temptations". The tour was carried out, much to the chagrin of Otis Williams and Motown, but production on the album was cut short when Ruffin, age 50, died on June 1, 1991 after overdosing on cocaine. Kendrick was diagnosed with lung cancer and retired; he died on October 5, 1992 at the age of 52 in his native Birmingham.

Richard Street left The Temptations in 1992 after a twenty-year association with the group, with Theo Peoples taking his place. Two years later, Melvin Franklin was forced to leave the group because of failing health; he died on February 23, 1995 at age 52 after suffering a brain seizure. Ray Davis from Parliament - Funkadelic assumed the bass role for the 1995 pop standards album For Lovers Only, and Harry McGilberry became the permanent bass.

In 1998, The Temptations released Phoenix Rising, their first million-selling album in over twenty years. The album was anchored by the single "Stay", a #1 hit on the adult contemporary charts that featured a sample from The Temptations' "My Girl". By this time, Ali-Ollie Woodson and Theo Peoples had departed the group, replaced with Barrington "Bo" Henderson and Terry Weeks, respectively.

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A scene from the 1998 Temptations NBC miniseries.

The Temptations mini-series

Main entry: The Temptations (miniseries).

1998 also saw the debut of The Temptations, a four-hour television miniseries based on Otis Williams' Temptations autobiography. It was broadcast in two parts on NBC on November 1 and November 2, 1998. The miniseries was a ratings success and won an Emmy award for Best Direction; it was subsequently rerun on the VH-1 cable television network and released to VHS and DVD.

Otis Williams' ex-wife Josephine, Melvin Franklin's mother Rose Franklin, and, on David Ruffin's behalf, his family, filed suit against Williams, Motown, De Passe Entertainment, Hallmark Entertainment, and NBC for a number of charges, including defamation of character. The judges ruled in favor of the defendants, and the ruling was upheld when the plaintiffs appealed in 2001.

From the 1990s to the present day

The Temptations were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. The next year, their latest album, Ear-Resistible, won the group its third Grammy, this one for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance. Three classic Temptations songs, "My Girl", "Ain't Too Proud to Beg", and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone", are among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

The current Temptations lineup of Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, new lead singer G.C. Cameron from The Spinners, and bass Joe Herndon continue to record and perform on tour. Their latest album, Legacy, was released in 2004. In late 2004, The Temptations asked to be released from their Motown contract, and are now currently an independent act.

A number of ex-Temptations continue to perform outside of the group. Dennis Edwards tours frequently with his own group. At first billing himself as Dennis Edwards & The Temptations, Edwards drew the legal wrath of Otis Williams and Motown; the group is now today known as Dennis Edwards & the Temptations Review or The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards, . Ali-Ollie Woodson fronts an act called Ali-Ollie Woodson & the Emperors of Soul--Emperors of Soul being the name of the 1994 Temptations box set. Richard Street and Damon Harris sometimes perform together as well; with Harris also performing with his own Temptations Review.


Missing image
The cover to the 1984 LP Truly for You, which includes the #2 R&B hit "Treat Her Like a Lady". Clockwise from left: Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Ron Tyson, Ali-Ollie Woodson, and Richard Street.

For a detailed listing of the various versions of The Temptations, see: Temptations chronology.

The Primes

aka The Cavaliers

The Distants

aka Otis Williams & the Distants, Otis Williams & the Siberians and The El Domingoes

The Temptations

aka The Elgins


For a detailed listing of albums and singles, see: Temptations discography.

US and UK Top Ten Singles

The following singles reached the Top Ten of either the United States pop singles chart or the United Kingdom pop singles chart. Also included are the singles that hit #1 on the US R&B charts.

Year Song title US Top 10 chart R&B No. 1
1965: "My Girl" Template:Audio 1 1
1966: "Get Ready" Template:Audio - 1
1966: "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" Template:Audio - 1
1966: "Beauty is Only Skin Deep" 3 1
1967: "(I Know) I'm Losing You" Template:Audio 8 1
1967: "All I Need" 8 -
1967: "You're My Everything" 6 -
1968: "I Wish It Would Rain" Template:Audio 4 1
1968: "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" - 1
1968: "Cloud Nine" Template:Audio 6 -
1968: "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me"
(with Diana Ross & the Supremes)
2 -
1969: "Runaway Child, Running Wild" 6 1
1969: "I Can't Get Next to You" Template:Audio 1 1
1970: "Psychedelic Shack" Template:Audio 7 -
1970: "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today)" Template:Audio 3 -
1971: "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" Template:Audio 1 1
1972: "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" Template:Audio 1 -
1973: "Masterpiece" 7 1
1973: "Let Your Hair Down" - 1
1974: "Happy People" - 1
1975: "Shakey Ground" - 1
1981: "Super Freak (Part I)"
(Rick James featuring The Temptations)
6 -

Other samples

Top Ten Albums

The following albums reached the Top Ten on either the United States pop albums chart or the United Kingdom pop albums chart.

  • 1966: The Temptations' Greatest Hits (US #5)
  • 1967: Temptations Live! (US #10)
  • 1967: The Temptations With a Lot o' Soul (US #7)
  • 1968: Diana Ross & The Supremes Join The Temptations (with Diana Ross & The Supremes) (US #2)
  • 1968: TCB (with Diana Ross & The Supremes) (US #1)
  • 1969: Cloud Nine (US #4)
  • 1969: Puzzle People (US #5)
  • 1970: Psychedelic Shack (US #9)


  • George, Nelson. "Cool as They Wanna Be". The Temptations: Emperors of Soul [CD Box Set]. New York: Motown Record Co., L.P.
  • Graff, Gary (Aug 28, 1988). Temptations: Otis tells the group's tale (|The). Detroit Free Press.
  • Hardin, Ritchie (July 17, 2004). The Tangled History of The Temptations. The Ritchie Hardin Network. Retrieved on February 9, 2005 from
  • Posner, Gerald (2002). Motown : Music, Money, Sex, and Power. New York: Random House. ISBN 037-550062-6.
  • Teegardin, Carol (April 6, 1986). Eddie Kendrick: once again, he's doing fine on cloud nine ( Detroit Free Press.
  • Weinger, Harry (1994). "Sunshine on a Cloudy Day". The Temptations: Emperors of Soul [CD Box Set]. New York: Motown Record Co., L.P.
  • Williams, Otis and Romanowski, Patricia (1988, updated 2002). Temptations. Lanham, MD: Cooper Square. ISBN 081-541218-5.

Further reading

  • George, Nelson (1985, rev. 2003). Where Did Our Love Go: The Rise and Fall of the Motown. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 071-199511-7.

External links

pl:The Temptations sv:The Temptations


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