Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Temptations, The

Formed in 1960, the Temptations were one of the most successful male, African American vocal groups of the 1960s. Known for their distinct harmonies, choreography and wardrobes, they were highly influential in the evolution of R&B and soul music. They began as a merger between two groups, the Primes and the Distants and adopted the name, the Elgins. In 1961, Berry Gordy signed them to the Motown subsidiary Miracle label and changed the group’s name to the Temptations.

The founding members were originally part of two rival Detroit vocal groups: Otis Williams, Elbridge "Al" Bryant (later replaced by David Ruffin), and Melvin Franklin of the Distants, and Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams of the Primes. Although they had minor successes, it was not until 1964, when they started working with Smokey Robinson that they had their first big hit with “The Way You Do The Things You Do.” The Temptations continued to collaborate with Smokey, who helped them produce multiple hits, including “My Girl.” After Smokey, Norman Whitfield became the Temptations’ primary producer, leading them to their first Grammy Award in 1968 with “Cloud Nine.” “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” earned them their second Grammy in 1972.

Six of the Temptations (Edwards, Franklin, Kendricks, Ruffin, Otis Williams and Paul Williams) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Over the course of their career, the Temptations released four “Billboard Hot 100” number-one singles and fourteen R&B number-one singles. Their material has earned them four Grammy Awards.

The Temptations still exist today under the leadership of Otis Williams. However, membership in the band has changed consistently throughout the years.



Flyer featuring The Temptations, 1967 - 2011.009.005

The Temptations' and The Supremes' collaborative record "Together", 1969 - 2006.047.003

View all items related to The Temptations