Otis Williams Of The Temptations Turns 80 Will Be Celebrated By City College Center For The Arts

Otis Williams The Temptations
photo credit: Photography by Scott Leon. Courtesy of UME

Otis Williams  of The Temptations turns 80-years old today. The Motown legend will be celebrated this Monday November 1, 2021 by the City College Center For The Arts during a live virtual event. Musician K. Sparks will host a conversation about Williams at Aaron Davis Hall with special guests. The gathering celebrates Williams’ birthday and the 60th anniversary of The Temptations. Williams became famous with Paul Williams, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks and  Melvin Franklin during the group’s Classic Five era. Their hit songs like “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “My Girl” and “Since I Lost My Baby” made The Temptations the premier all-male vocal group of the ’60s. They were among one of the first Black groups to have crossover success in America and appear on mainstream television. The group had its own television specials in the ’60s two of them (Taking Care Of Business & Getting It Together) with Diana Ross & The Supremes which was something that never happened for Black entertainers before them. The Temptations Show in 1969 was a Motown-produced television program. 

The lineup has changed over the past six decades after the passing of  Paul Williams, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks and Melvin Franklin. Dennis Edwards replaced Ruffin in 1968 and left the group in the ’80s. Otis Williams is the remaining original member and he has kept The Temptations alive with different singers. They just released their new single “Is It Gonna Be Yes Or No” which is a collaboration with former Motown label mate Smokey Robinson. The Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud: The Life And Times Of The Temptations about their journey has re-opened at the Imperial Theatre in New York City. Their story was first presented to the public with the Emmy-winning 1998 television mini-series The Temptations which became known for actor Leon’s brilliant portrayal of David Ruffin. 

The group is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Grammy winners and still on tour in 2021. The City College Center For The Arts event will start at 7:30 PM ET. Fans can RSVP at https://citycollegecenterforthearts.org/shows/celebrating-otis-williams/



Throwback: David Ruffin-Walk Away From Love

David Ruffin’s career solo career started in 1968 after being the lead singer of The Temptations for four years. In 1975, his seventh solo album, Who I Am was released on Motown Records. Van McCoy produced the outing and Charles Kipp wrote “Walk Away From Love.” Ruffin’s unmistakable tortured tenor made the listener believe when he sang “It’s not that I don’t love you” with resigned anguish of the heart. His gruff voice, which had the ability to move quickly into a seamless falsetto, embodied conflicted affection. David Ruffin’s brilliance on “Walk Away From Love” was being able to capture the feeling of leaving and staying with love at the same time. His sole number one R&B hit was his biggest post-Temptation moment in the ’70s. 

Ruffin completed five more solo albums including one with former bandmate Eddie Kendrick before his passing in 1991. There were brief reunions with the Temptations including their popular collaboration with Rick James on the song “Standing On The Top.” They were a whole group again for their 1989 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. David Ruffin’s music is still listened to in 2021 and he has become a meme in pop culture thanks to the actor Leon’s famous portrayal of him in the 1998 miniseries The Temptations. 

R.I.P. Dennis Edwards

[youtube id=”CH3rx8LhrQo”] Dennis Edwards, one of the lead singers of The Temptations died in Chicago yesterday at age 74. The Alabama native started his career at Motown as the leader of The Contours. Edwards joined The Temptations in 1968 as a replacement for David Ruffin. He sang lead on some of their biggest songs including “Papa Was A Rolling,” “Cloud Nine” and “Shakey Ground.” Edwards left the group in the late ’70s and had a brief solo career during the ’80s. Don’t Look Any Further was the most successful of his three albums and the title song with Siedah Garrett was a hit.  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with The Temptations in 1989. In the ’90s, he started touring as The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards. His voice is forever remembered for leading The Temptations through their funk-influenced jagged style era.

R.I.P. Ali Ollie Woodson

Ali Ollie Woodson mostly known for singing with The Temptations passed yesterday in California after a battle with cancer. Woodson’s professional career started when he became the lead singer of The Drifters in the 1970’s. Most Motown fans would agree that the classic Temp lineup of David Ruffin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams was the best one but Woodson’s entrance in 1984 gave the group another life. “Treat Her Like A Lady” from the next year co-written by Woodson and Otis Williams reignited the respect for The Temptations for a new era. Truly For You was the name of the album and it was their best one of the decade. Woodson lead the group from ’84 to ’87 and then again from ’89 to ’97 leaving the second time because of throat cancer. His post Temptations work included touring with the band in 2002 and a couple of groups with former Temptation lead singers Glenn Leonard and Barrington “Bo” Henderson. They billed themselves as Legendary Leads Of The Temptations and The Temptations Reunion provoking a lawsuit from Otis Williams. Charges of lowering the market price of the group and false advertising were cast but the case went nowhere and by 2006 he was performing in a Temptations Revue with Dennis Edwards. Woodson recorded two solo CDs Right Here All Along from 2001 and Never Give Up from 2009. Another great voice enters the superband in the sky.