Kendricks, Eddie R&B Vocals

The Temptations

Born: Dec. 17, 1939 Oct. 5, 1992 Union Springs, AL

The silky tenor of the Temptations emerged as a solo artist in 1971. Under the production of Frank Wilson, he released several pop hits -- including "Boogie Down" (#2), and the #1 "Keep On Truckin' (Part 1)" -- predominantly dance hits.

Thanks to their fine-tuned choreography -- and even finer harmonies -- the Temptations became the definitive male vocal group of the 1960s; one of Motown's most elastic acts, they tackled both lush pop and politically-charged funk with equal flair, and weathered a steady stream of changes in personnel and consumer tastes with rare dignity and grace.

The Temptations' initial five-man line-up formed in Detroit in 1961 as a merger of two local vocal groups, the Primes and the Distants. Baritone Otis Williams, Elbridge (a.k.a. El, or Al) Bryant and bass vocalist Melvin Franklin were longtime veterans of the Detroit music scene when they joined together in the Distants, who in 1959 recorded the single "Come On" for the local Northern label. Around the same time, the Primes, a trio comprised of tenor Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams (no relation to Otis) and Kell Osborne, relocated to the Motor City from their native Alabama; they quickly found success locally, and their manager even put together a girl group counterpart dubbed the Primettes. (Later, three of the Primettes -- Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard -- formed the Supremes).

In 1961, the Primes disbanded, but not before Otis Williams saw them perform live, where he was impressed both by Kendricks' vocal prowess and Paul Williams' choreography skills. Soon, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Bryant, Franklin and Kendricks joined together as the Elgins; after a name change to the Temptations, they signed to the Motown subsidiary Miracle, where they released a handful of singles over the ensuing months. Only one, the 1962 effort "Dream Come True," achieved any commercial success, however, and in 1963, Bryant either resigned or was fired after physically attacking Paul Williams.

The Tempts' fortunes changed dramatically in 1964 when they recruited tenor David Ruffin to replace Bryant; after entering the studio with writer/producer Smokey Robinson, they emerged with the pop smash "The Way You Do the Things You Do," the first in a series of 37 career Top Ten hits. With Robinson again at the helm, they returned in 1965 with their signature song, "My Girl," a Number One pop and R&B hit; other Top 20 hits that year included "It's Growing," "Since I Lost My Baby," "Don't Look Back," and "My Baby."

In 1966, the Tempts recorded another Robinson hit, "Get Ready," before forgoing his smooth popcraft for the harder-edged soul of producers Norman Whitfield and Brian Holland.... The group allowed Ruffin to take control over a string of hits including "Beauty's Only Skin Deep" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You." Beginning around 1967, Whitfield assumed full production control, and their records became ever rougher and more muscular....

After Ruffin failed to appear at a 1968 live performance, the other four Tempts fired him; he was replaced by ex-Contour Dennis Edwards, whose less polished voice adapted perfectly to the psychedelic-influenced soul period the group entered following the success of the single "Cloud Nine." As the times changed, so did the group, and as the 1960s drew to a close, the Temptations' music became overtly political; in the wake of "Cloud Nine" -- its title a thinly-veiled drug allegory -- came records like "Run Away Child, Running Wild," "Psychedelic Shack," and "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)."

After the chart-topping success of the gossamer ballad "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" in 1971, Kendricks exited for a solo career. Soon, Paul Williams left the group as well; long plagued by alcoholism and other personal demons, he was eventually discovered dead from a self-inflected gunshot on August 17, 1973 at the age of 34. In their stead the remaining trio recruited tenors Damon Harris and Richard Street; after the 1971 hit "Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)," they returned in 1972 with the brilliant Number One single "Papa Was a Rolling Stone."

While the Tempts hit the charts regularly throughout 1973 with "Masterpiece," "Let Your Hair Down," and "The Plastic Man," their success as a pop act gradually dwindled as the 1970s wore on. After Harris exited in 1975 (replaced by tenor Glenn Leonard), the group cut 1976's The Temptations Do the Temptations, their final album for Motown. With Louis Price taking over for Dennis Edwards, they signed to Atlantic, and attempted to reach the disco market with the LPs Bare Back and Hear to Tempt You. After Edwards returned to the fold (resulting in Price's hasty exit), they re-entered the Motown stable, and scored a 1980 hit with"Power."In 1982, Ruffin and Kendricks returned for Reunion, which also included all five of the current Tempts; a tour followed, but problems with Motown, as well as personal differences, cut Ruffin and Kendricks' tenures short.

In the years that followed, the Temptations continued touring and recording, although by the 1990s they were essentially an oldies act; only Otis Williams, who published his autobiography in 1988, remained from the original line-up. The intervening years were marked by tragedy: after touring in the late '80s with Eddie Kendricks and Dennis Edwards as a member of the "Tribute to the Temptations" package tour, David Ruffin died on June 1, 1991 after overdosing on cocaine; he was 50 years old. On October 5, 1992, Kendricks died at the age of 52 of lung cancer, and on February 23, 1995, 52-year-old Melvin Franklin passed away after suffering a brain seizure. -- Jason Ankeny

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame


Photo of eddie kendricks

On December 17, 1939 in Union Springs, Alabama, was born one who became the sweetest and silkiest of tenors, quiet and so cool - a tall, lean, handsome member of one of the greatest singing groups of all time. In 1955, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Willy Waller, and Kell Osborne, were singing in local talent shows in their hometown, Birmingham, Alabama as the Primes when Eddie and Paul left for Cleveland to become the Cavaliers as Eddie in the beginning worked at the Majestic Hotel on 55th & Central washing dishes while performing in the hotel’s Rose Room. With nothing happening in Cleveland, Eddie and Paul moved to Detroit, along with new manager Milton Jenkins, who remembers the Primes rehearsing in the basement of his home, singing for as long as his father could stand it - often until midnight. When Jenkins met the Primes, they were just another of many unknown groups around. Once he saw their show, he was convinced they had star potential. They were young, good-looking, and talented. When future Temptation Otis Williams and his group shared rehearsal space with the Primes, they couldn’t help but notice Kendricks’ vocal prowess and Paul Williams’ smooth and classy choreography. With no real success by 1961, the Primes became discouraged, and Eddie, tired of the small club gigs, decided to return home to Birmingham as the group disbanded.

Later when Eddie put in a phone call to Otis, the timing was perfect - since Otis just happened to have two spots to fill in his group, The Distants. Paul and Eddie added a whole new dimension to his group's sound, and the merging of the two groups were now called the Elgins. An audition for Berry Gordy went well, and the group was offered a contract on the spot and so the Temptations were formed. It was 1961, but the group wouldn't have their first hit for a few years. Meanwhile, the group worked hard on their singing, their moves, and their look. Eddie always dressed beautifully - he had a knack for being sharp and hip, but classy at the same time, so his job in the group would be wardrobe, and he began putting together the group's stage uniforms. The group continued recording on a regular basis with either Paul or Eddie leading on all the early songs, but none of the 1962 singles did much, including the unique "Dream Come True", and "Paradise". Both tunes featured Eddie's vocals, and they are appreciated today, but at the time they didn't even make the pop chart.

In early 1964, David Ruffin joined the group and coincidently things began to change. Smokey Robinson told the group he'd booked the studio for them to record a song he'd written with Bobby Rogers, one of the Miracles, while driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. That night the five of them met at Eddie's house on Hanover and set out on the familiar walk over to Hitsville, the Motown recording studio. The song, "The Way You Do The Things You Do", was charming and perfect for Eddie's voice. It was like a dream, finally! Around the same time, because of Eddie’s foresight and creativity, the uniforms the group had become known for, started getting really wild and the crowds loved them. In 1965, Smokey Robinson, who was writing mostly all of their material, turned his attention away from Eddie momentarily, to hand over "My Girl" to David Ruffin. The song would hit #1 and stay there for eight weeks. It was the Temptations’ big breakthrough. In 1966, Smokey would hand Eddie the song "Get Ready", but it didn't do as well as "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" did for the group. Up until this time, the guys were tight and always hung out together at one another's houses. Sometimes Melvin would cook up a pot of beans and cornbread. Eddie loved cornbread so much the guys playfully nicknamed him "Cornbread".

When David Ruffin was dismissed in 1968, Eddie changed. Upset with the attitudes of some of the group members, he formed an alliance with David outside the group. In the late 60's, times would change, but Eddie still preferred the harmonious love songs and wanted to do some of his own material separate from the group. The group said no, and Eddie became even more dissatisfied. At the Copa in 1970, Eddie walked out after the first show, and it was decided, mutually, that it was time for him to leave the group. And so he did, leaving them with one of their all-time biggest hits. In March of 1971, on the wings of his swan song, the gossamer ballad "Just My Imagination", Kendricks quit the Temptations. The song hung at #1 for a couple of weeks, but by that time Eddie had already gone.

Eddie now would quickly develop a sound of his own. His first solo album All By Myself featured testimonials on the back cover from Otis, Melvin, Dennis, and Paul - stating that there were no hard feelings regarding his departure from the group. The second album, People...Hold On was also well received. In 1973, the self-titled Eddie Kendricks showed that Eddie had the perfect voice to accompany the pre-disco track "Keep On Truckin", and he could still serve up a #1 hit for Motown. Next up, the album Boogie Down was also a success. Eddie would continue through the 70's with good to moderate success. He cut For You in 1974 and The Hit Man in 1975. He's A Friend in 1976 and the next one Goin Up In Smoke would have spiritual tones. Religion would become important to Eddie around this time and is evidenced in the title song "He's A Friend" where he speaks of God as his friend. Eddie wrapped up the 70's with Slick.

In the 80's Eddie switched over to Atlantic for the release of the 1981 Love Keys, a gem of an album with all love songs. Following this album, things dropped off a bit and the 80's weren't as kind to Eddie. Following the 1982 reunion tour with the Temptations, he would find himself ignored by the record industry because it was rumored that he'd lost his voice. Adding to his problems, he would be in and out of court with ex-wife Patricia. At the time, Kendricks was living between Atlanta and Birmingham. In Atlanta, he had his own small independent record label, Msdixie Records, but it would fold within a short time. Eddie was doing mostly benefits and some free concerts and play clubs and nostalgia shows. In 1985 while performing, Kendricks invited David Ruffin, who had come to see the performance, up onstage. Less than a year later, there was a hot Kendrick-Ruffin tour as the two appeared at the Apollo Theater, performed at the biggest international music event in history Live-Aid, were featured vocalists in the anti-apartheid "Sun City" record and video, and did an album together for RCA in 1987 called Ruffin and Kendrick as in the early 80's, Eddie had dropped the "s" from his last name as he became an even closer friend with Ruffin.

The duo of Ruffin and Kendrick toured for the next couple of years until their 1989 Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame induction along with four other Temptations. It was there that they got to talking with Dennis Edwards and the duo became a trio, calling themselves Ruffin, Kendrick, Edwards, Former Leads of The Temptations. The three would form a tight bond as they toured and recorded together. In early 1991, they would produce a video, a real treasure for their fans, in association with Street Gold Productions.

Later that year, Eddie Kendrick had sat in a church pew in Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church, hunched over, head in hands, weeping steadily as he said farewell to good friend and singing partner, David Ruffin., who had died unexpectedly.

A little more than a year later, at 10:35 p.m. on Monday, October 5th, 1992, Eddie joined his partner in death. Eddie Kendrick, lead vocalist and founding member of the Temptations, succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 52.

The world will remember Kendrick as the striking tenor with the voice “sweet as sin - spinning and cartwheeling high above the melody like a kite above the trees”. Eddie is gone, but he will never be forgotten as his spirit lives on in the glorious songs he left behind for us.

Source: Birmingham Record Collectors

More info: http://www.myspace.com/eddiekendricks67





Temptations - Greatest HitsLive At the Apollo, Daryl Hall & John OatesThe Eddie Kendricks Collection, Vol. 1, Eddie KendricksEddie Kendricks: The Essential Collection, Eddie KendricksSing the Temptations Greatest Hits (Remastered), Dennis EdwardsImage of album by Eddie Kendricks

Listen: http://itunes.apple.com/ie/artist/eddie-kendricks/id103776

Listen: http://www.amazon.com/Eddie-Kendricks/e/B000APZ3K2

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgAtvJNIdrU

Video Interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW1I7TWdWW8


Obituary--BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Oct. 6 — Eddie Kendricks, the former lead singer of the Temptations, one of the top male singing groups of the 1960's, died on Monday at Baptist Medical Center-Princeton here. He was 52 years old and lived in this city.

He died of lung cancer, said Betty Ingram, a hospital spokeswoman.

Mr. Kendricks, whose clear falsetto punctuated hit recordings that included "My Girl," "Get Ready" and "The Way You Do the Things You Do," founded the Temptations in Detroit in 1961 with Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams and Elbridge Bryant. David Ruffin replaced Mr. Bryant in 1964, and the group signed with the Motown label.

The Temptations had their first No. 1 hit, "My Girl," in 1965, followed by "It's Growing" and "Since I Lost My Baby" that same year.

"While the Four Tops covered the frenetic side of the Motown sound and the Miracles monopolized its romantic side, the Temptations quite simply stood as the finest vocal group in 60's soul," Joe McEwen and Jim Miller wrote in "The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock-and-Roll." "They could outdress, outdance and outsing any competition in sight."


Mr. Kendricks began a solo career in 1971 but rejoined the group in 1982 for a reunion tour. He was reunited with the group again in 1989 when it was inducted into the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame. As a soloist, Mr. Kendricks had a major success in 1973 with the song "Keep On Truckin'," which sold three million copies.

In a 1978 review in The New York Times of one of Mr. Kendricks's concerts at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, Robert Palmer praised his "impressive authority" and his ability to give "each word just the right emphasis while maintaining the illusion of a casual, almost speechlike delivery."

Mr. Kendricks and Mr. Ruffin began working together after their 1985 album, "Live at the Apollo," with the pop duo Hall and Oates. Mr. Ruffin died of a drug overdose last year, shortly after completing a European tour with Mr. Kendricks and another former Temptation, Dennis Edwards.

Last year Mr. Kendricks had a cancerous lung removed. He said the disease was caused by 30 years of smoking.

He is survived by his parents, Johnny and Lee Bell Kendrick, who spell their name differently, and a sister, Patricia Simpson, all of Birmingham; and three brothers, Charles and Robert, of Los Angeles, and Clarence, of Detroit.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/07/obituaries/eddie-kendricks-52-sang-with-the-temptations.html










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