Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Temptations, The #82 Artist of the Seventies*

This group originally formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1960 under the name of the Elgins, though they had roots to a group called the Primes.  At that time, they included Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Elbridge "Al" Bryant, Eddie Kendricks, and Paul Williams.

Don't be fooled by the #82 ranking*--this group enjoyed huge success in the 60's and are still one of the greatest acts of the Rock Era.  This special ranks the artists on their output in the 70's only--something to keep in mind as you enjoy the music.

The group signed a recording contract with Motown Records and, after learning their was another group that went by the Elgins, they decided on the Temptations as their new name.  David Ruffin replaced Bryant in 1964, and the Temptations exploded for a nearly unbroken reign of hits that included "My Girl", "(I Know) I'm Losing You", "I Wish It Would Rain", "Cloud Nine", "I Can't Get Next To You", and "I'm Gonna' Make You Love Me".
Ruffin left for a solo career in 1968, replaced by Dennis Edwards, and the Temps kept rolling on.  In 1970, they released the album Psychedelic Shack, with the title track reaching #7.
The group followed with another of their greatest career songs--"Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today)", which reached #3.

Kendricks followed Ruffin to a solo career a few years later, but before doing so, Eddie recorded the single "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" with the group.  The song reached #1 in 1971, becoming the group's third chart-topper.

There was certainly plenty of talent to go around, but losing singers the caliber of Ruffin and Kendricks began to take its toll.  Add in that Paul Williams had to quit the group in 1971 because of medical reasons, and it was as if the legs were pulled right from under the Temptations.  Richard Street and Damon Harris came on board that year.  After "Just My Imagination", however, the group went through a period of four releases without finding the Top 10.  They would break that skid in 1972 with another #1--"Papa Was A Rollin' Stone".

The Temptations won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Group for "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone".  "Masterpiece" was the follow-up in 1973, and it reached #7.

Unfortunately, "Masterpiece" would be the last Top 10 song the Temptation would enjoy until they joined Rod Stewart in 1991 for "The Motown Song".  The group closed out the 70's with ten unsuccessful releases.

The Temptations were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.  They received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys in 2013.  The group scored 20 hits in the decade, but only five hit the Top 10, and they posted two number one songs.  The group sold at least five million albums in the Seventies. 

The Temptations are still performing with one original member, Otis Williams.

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