Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The History of the Temptations

Paul Williams (far right), with the Temptation...Image of The Temptations in 1967 via Wikipedia

The History of the Temptations by Robert D Hill

The history of The Temptations is long and convoluted, involving a number of bands commencing in 1955. Four childhood friends, namely Paul Williams, Wiley Waller, Kel Osbourne and Eddie Kendricks formed The Cavaliers in 1955. Starting in Birmingham, Alabama, their hometown, the group moved as a trio to Cleveland and then to Detroit when Wiley Waller left the group. In Detroit, they became known as The Primes.

Meanwhile, Otis Williams had formed a group known as Otis Williams and the Siberians and was also singing in the Detroit area. Not long thereafter, the Otis Williams and the Siberians group was renamed to be The El Domingoes. Later when The El Domingoes signed up to record with Northern Records, their name was changed once more to The Distants. Members from these two groups, The Distants and The Primes, came together to form The Temptations.

The lineup of The Temptations included Otis Williams, Elbridge "Al" Bryant, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks. They named themselves The Elgins and in March 1961 auditioned for Gordy at Motown.

The Temptations released two records "Check Yourself" and "Oh Mother of Mine" with Paul Williams as the lead singer. In the first two years, none of their 7 singles made it to the top 100 US singles charts. However, "Dream Come True" recorded in 1962 was 22nd on the Rhythm and Blues chart; it was not all bad. During this time, they began to make a name for themselves for their versatility. Kendricks and Williams were the lead singers and The Temptation's signature sound became known because of their lead.

While all this was going on, attempts at getting the group a hit song were almost frantic. They recorded songs like "Isn't She Pretty" and "I Want a Love I Can See" but none of these became hits. In an attempt to improve it was suggested that their name be changed to The Pirates under which they recorded "I'll Love You Till I Die" and "Mind Over Matter", but still nothing changed. Elbridge Bryant became restless with this and became uncooperative. In 1963 he was fired from the group and quickly replaced by David Ruffin.

Bobby Rogers and Smokey Robinson's co-wrote a song with Eddie Kendricks as the lead singer. It was known as "The Way You Do the Things You Do" and it became the group's first song to hit the Top 20 in April of 1964. Kendricks was the lead singer for the next two singles that followed in the same year, "I'll Be in Trouble" and "Girl Why You Wanna Make Me Blue." In the same year their first album labeled "Meet The Temptations" was also released.

At this time Smokey Robinson was working on a song that would be perfect for David Ruffin's voice. "My Girl" was recorded in the fall of 1964 and released on the day before Christmas. It became their first pop hit to make it to number one in March of the next year. From there, they had many other songs on the Top 20 in 1965 including "My Baby," "It's Growing," and "Since I Lost My Baby". Norman Whitfield became the producer of the group in 1966 and wrote "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." Other hits included "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep," "I know I'm Losing You," "Loneliness Made Me Realize It's You That I need," "You're My Everything" and "All I Need."

The albums they released between 1965 and 1968 included The Temptin' Temptations, The Temptations Sing Smokey, Getting Ready, The Temptations with a Lot o' Soul, and The Temptations Wish It Would Rain. Later "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" became another major hit for The group. As success came, wrangles on leadership came along with it, leading to many different singers joining and leaving the group.

The Temptations have made a name for themselves through the years, and are one group that has lasted for a very long time. The group has won three Grammy Awards, six of their members are members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and three of their songs have been included in The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll. They have had four singles on the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 as well as 14 on the top spot of the Billboard R&B charts.

They have been called The Beatles of Soul and have sold albums in the tens of millions. They were with Motown for 40 years, second only to Stevie Wonder, and with Atlantic records for 13 years. They continue to record and perform with Universal records with Otis Williams, one of the founding members still in the lineup. There is no telling how much longer they will last, but they have come a long way with no sign of letting up. They have truly earned the name, The Fighting Temptations.

For the opportunity to learn more about the Temptations, shop for books, music, videos, and or apparel, check out http://motown.ws You can also watch YouTube videos, view the latest Motown news and comment on our blog.

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