The Temptations:How sex,drugs,conflict and ego ruined the Classic five.
The Temptations were one of the pioneers of the showmanship that many black music groups are now known for , they were one complete singing group where all the classic five as they Were then Known could sing and could dance, in short their choreography in modern day Could only be Matched by New Edition.
The Temptations Early times
The classic Five were Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin. In the beginning Otis Williams had a singing group which originally consisted of Melvin Franklin, Aly Bryant, James Crawford, Richard Street and Otis, these five succeeded in securing a record deal With Johnnie Mae, a record label owner who swindled them out of the royalties from the first record which was a minor hit. Then One Night in 1960 while performing at a community centre, in walked a local star and his group (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles) they were accompanied by a song writer/Businessman who was about starting his record label, his name was Berry Gordy, the guy who later introduced us to The Jacksons and Stevie Wonder. After their performance Otis and Berry met in The Restroom where they both came to ease themselves, Berry commended their performance and said if they were not happy with their record label they could come to him. later Richard And James started losing interest in the whole thing as a result they were let go. Their places Were filled by two guys who where a hot duo known as the Primes (Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams) they brought choreography into the group and showmanship, this new addition to Otis and the Distants now made the Group a complete group and the name was now changed To the Elgins.
After the nasty experience they had with Johnnie Mae ,they decided to meet with Berry Gordy at Hitsville the Building that housed the Motown record label, they auditioned for him using one of their original composition which was not used at Johnnie Mae's label and Berry was Impressed with what he heard and signed them up to Motown, but they had to change their Name because another band had already been using the name so they changed to the Temptations. The group was structured in such a way that the royalties and performance fees were paid Into an account that required only the signature of either Otis or Melvin's to draw a check, While the choreography was handled by Paul Williams and Cholly Atkins, a professional hired by Motown for all the acts on the label, Eddie handled the wardrobe .
The first single "mother of mine " was released on a subsidiary of Motown label which
Was not a hit, a couple of not so successful singles were released but none of this got on To the chart, on these singles both Paul and Eddie handled the lead vocals between themselves. Sometimes in 1963 Al's drinking was beginning to affect his performance and input in the band Even though everyone except Paul Williams drank and he was the teetotaler who always warned all other members that drinking too much could ruin their health, Al's drinking problem got to a stage that other group members had started scouting for his replacement, at that time two Brothers who were singers with singles that were not hits used to come around to Otis house They were the Ruffin brothers (David and Jimmy) they were both fantastic singers.
One night at a venue David Ruffin came out to sing with the group on stage, it was one great Performance and as they retired into their dressing room, the crowd wanted more and Al was ready for it but Paul was worn out and explained to Al who was not going to take No For an answer, he got a beer bottle and hit Paul in the face missing his eyes which landed Paul in the hospital where he was treated the group except Paul felt it was time to let him go , Paul pleaded for him but his attitude to work did not improve and so he was kicked out of the group and replaced with David Ruffin and with Dave's inclusion the classic five Came into being in the history of the temptations.
The Temptations Featuring David Ruffin
In 1963, Smokey Robinson of The Miracles was getting noticed as a very good songwriter he had started writing and producing for some Motown Acts and he was the one that gave The temptations their first break with the tune "the way you do the things you do" this peaked At No 11 on the pop charts and the Temptations had to travel around the country to promote the record
In 1964 just after the temptations had finished a show at a venue called Twenty Grand, as they came off stage ,there was Smokey Robinson waiting for them, he approached the group and pointed at David and said I have a song for you, the song happened to be "My Girl", the song that will propel David into stardom and the one that Will bring about the beginning of the end for The Temptations classic five, the song was released a day after Christmas and charted at no 26 three weeks later, but by March 6 1965 the song had reached # 1 and sold at least a million copies the song did so well For Motown and The Temptations that the first royalties that they got from that one song
Smokey Robinson alongside the" My Girl album"
Was 18,000 dollars a piece. The song also opened temptations up to a new pop market and more concerts which meant more money.
In 1966 The temptations recorded a couple of songs like "beauty is only skin deep" "I know I am losing you" but there was one which became another no 1 the song "ain't too proud to beg" Which was written by a young producer called Norman Whitfield, this was another of the songs which David did the lead vocals on.
The saying that More Money More problems fitted what the Temptations began to face as Soon as they started making money as they now picked up different vices which affected The personal and professional life of some of them.
The First two Temptation members that success of the group started to affect negatively was Paul and the next was David, as for Paul he was married with five kids before the Group became Successful, but soon fell in love with the hair stylist of the Supremes, Diana Ross's group and he also started to drink heavily, next was David, he started feeling superior to the group and at a time he even suggested that the group be changed to David Ruffin and the Temptations, which all other members disapproved, his ego was beginning to disturb his input in the group and Paul's drinking was getting worse .
In 1968 the classic five would make a change in the line up, but before that a couple of things happened in the band and, one of which was Otis trying cocaine for the first time and not liking it, because it took its toll on him as a performer, there was also a decision to go to Japan to perform which the group felt was unsafe everyone including Berry tried to convince them, but the group stood their ground and the trip was cancelled. David Ruffin was now becoming a problem, there were times he would come in late or never showed up ,the last straw broke that broke the camels back was the time David Sent his driver saying that they can do the show without him preferring to attend a show Put up by his then girlfriend ( a daughter of Dean Martin) the group then decided to Kick David out of the temptations, a legal document was signed by the rest of the group and delivered to David. Towards the end of June, David was replaced with Dennis Edwards a former member of a group called the contours. He was as good as David and fitted what the temptations wanted in a replacement for David, but even after David was fired , he kept popping in at their concerts and snatching The Mic from Dennis to sing the songs he made popular and would flee after doing his Part, but he later realized that with all his stunts, he was not going to be let back into the Temptations, so he settled for a solo deal with Motown.
The Temptations Featuring Dennis Edwards
Paul's drinking was now getting the better part of his life and he was drinking two to three fifth's of Corvorsior everyday, the group tried to talk him out of it, but it was all In vain, Norman Whitfield decided to change the style of Temptations by introducing Them to new funky sound and made them record the song "Cloud nine" which got them their the First Grammy Award , a song that Dennis sang lead vocals on, Paul's drinking now affected his performance as a result Richard Street was drafted in to do his parts behind the Curtains . In 1970 just when the Temps were performing in the Copa, Otis got the news he had lost his mother, while performing he almost cracked and Eddie was not happy and by the
time they finished on stage and were to go in for the next show Eddie formally informed the Promoter that he was leaving the temptations, Otis and Melvin never bothered to talk him out of it because they noticed that since David Ruffin was kicked out Eddie has never been Happy with the group's decision but before he left he recorded one of their greatest hits, "Just my imagination "where he did the lead vocals. Eddie Officially left the temptations in March 1971, Eddie was replaced with Ricky Owens who did not stay long because he just couldn't get His act together, he was then replaced with Damon Harris, who stayed with the group for
About four years. Paul's drinking got worse and he was convinced by the group to see A doctor about his health which was affected by the drinking, the doctor gave Paul the Bad news ,Paul will never be able to perform again, Paul was still kept on the payroll and he worked out with the routines till the end so within a few years three of the original members or what Temptations fans called the classic five had left the group. Richard street officially came in to replace Paul Williams.
The Temptations With Eddy doing Just my imagination
Norman Whitfield was beginning to move the temptations away from their normal ballads to a more funky sound, a good example was papa was a rolling stone which the group did Not like and which they reluctantly recorded but got them three Grammies and sold over Two million copies. 1973 was another year of mixed feelings for the group, while in New York attending Damon Harris's wedding Paul Williams committed suicide by shooting himself, not long after Paul's
The Temptations " Papa was a rolling stone album Sleeve
Death, it was time for a change in the group's line up again, this time it was Damon Harris. His Attitude and ego were part of the reasons he was kicked out of the group, he was replaced With Glen Leonard who was another good singer who stayed with the group for eight years. In 1977 the temptations contract with Motown came to an end and they signed with Atlantic Records. They also had to let Dennis Edwards go because he was beginning to behave like David Ruffin, he was replaced with Louis Price, all the records released under Atlantic records
Sometimes in 1978 a car thief shot Melvin Franklin, but Melvin survived but could not travel Or perform until he got healed ,meanwhile Kenny Gamble sometimes in the year suggested a Temptations reunion with Dennis, Eddie and David, but Melvin and Otis were a bit skeptical but Gamble promised that if they agreed, he could make it happen, Louis price without saying a word left the group, Dennis Edwards after promising to be of good behavior was rehired back in to the group and not long after temptations moved back to Motown records after much renegotiation .
For a very long time a lot of the fans and the media had asked if there would ever be a reunion Between the old members that have left and the current members, after many failed attempts the Reunion was agreed to, David and Eddie joined Dennis, Otis, Melvin, Richard and Glen. Before the reunion a new album was recorded and released among the tracks was "standing
On the top" a track written and produced by Rick James, the single was a success but the same Cannot be said about the album , the tour started well but by the middle of the tour, David started Misbehaving again and this can be traced to his use of cocaine most of the time, Eddie did not Help matters because he sided with David just to make other members of the group angry. At the end of the tour Motown and the rest of the group told David and Eddie that they were fired from the Group.
Not long after the reunion Glen was beginning to step out of line and he was let go from the group And replaced with Ron Tyson, not long after Dennis Edwards was back to his old ways and he was Again fired and replaced with Ollie Woodson, who also happened to be a good songwriter, he Penned the song ",treat her like a lady" for the group which was another hit for the temptations.
The Temptations treat her like a lady album sleeve
Ollie was another talented singer but lacked discipline and after several warnings from the group He was fired Sometimes in 1991 David Ruffin and a friend went to a crack house where he overdosed and Passed out , he was taken to the hospital by his friends and dumped outside and by the time He was taken into the hospital he was confirmed dead , the same year Eddie was diagnosed with
Lung cancer where he had one lung removed that November, the next October 1992 to be Precise, Eddie passed on. In 1995. Melvin Franklin's health had deteriorated to the extent that he could not move on the Stage due to rheumatoid arthritis which he had been managing for a long time, this time He had to be hospitalized and from then he was in and out of hospitals until he passed on the 23rd of February 1995, and so till date Otis williams is the only surviving member of the Classic five as the temptations of Otis, David, Melvin, Eddie and Paul were then Know ,Otis still tours with the new line up which changes from time to time.