The Temptations were the definitive male vocal group of the 1960s, and their soulful sound still thrill audiences. Their pop and soul style, charged with funk, makes them one of the most original artists of their time. The temptations formed in 1961 in Detroit: the group was the product of a merge between the Primes and the Distants. Otis Williams, Elbridge Bryant, and Melvin Franklin of the Distants joined up with the Primes' trio comprised of Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, and Kell Osborne. They were greeted with local success early in their career. A former female counterpart of the Primes, the Primettes, later formed the world famous Supremes with Diana Ross.
Before the Temptations formed, while the Primes were still performing, Otis Williams saw them perform and was impressed by Kendricks' vocals and Paul Williams' impressive choreography. When the Primes finally disbanded in 1961 the Temptations formed soon after, and they quickly signed with a Motown Records' affiliate, Miracle; several singles were released over the next few months. Their first commercial success came in 1962 with Dream Come True. The group hit a bump in the road in 1963 when Elbridge Bryant attacked Paul Williams and then left the band. The loss, then tragic, ended up being a great break for the boys. They replaced Bryant with David Ruffin and their luck began to change: they entered the studio with writer/producer Smokey Robinson and came out with The Way You Do the Things You Do, a smash hit that reached the top ten on the pop charts. Robinson contributed many songs to the group, including My Girl, which hit number one on both the pop and R&B charts. The same year It's Growing, Since I Lost My Baby, Don't Look Back, and My Baby all reached the Top 20.
The group tried spotlighting different members at different points in their career. Kendricks was the star of the hit Ain't Too Proud to Beg and later, Ruffin was allowed to take the lead on a long string of hits, including Beauty's Only Skin Deep and I Know I'm Losing You. In the late 1960s their style changed with a change of producer: Norman Whitfield gave the group a more rough and muscular feel. The result of this change was songs like I Wish It Would Rain. Another change of cast occurred in 1968 when Ruffin neglected to show up to a live performance. The Temptations decided to fire him and replace him with Dennis Edwards, previously of the Contours.
The group's sound continued to change over the next few years. They became more overtly political than most groups of the era. A thinly veiled drug allegory, Cloud Nine, was followed by songs like Run Away Child, Running Wild, Psychedelic Shack, and Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today). The songs did not chart but they gained respect from many fans, and tickets to the Temptations' shows still sold out quickly all over the country.
Paul Williams and Kendricks left the band in the early 1970s. The remaining trio auditioned several replacements before settling on Damon Harris and Richard Street. Soon, with the new additions to the group, the Temptations released a number one single, Papa Was a Rolling Stone. Throughout the 70s they continued to chart songs such as Masterpiece, Let Your Hair Down, and The Plastic Man.' Harris left the group in 1975 to be replaced by Glenn Leonard, and Louis Price soon took over for Edwards. The group left the Motown label and moved on to sign with Atlantic, and attempted to break into the disco market with the LPs, Bare Back and Hear to Tempt You.
The success of the Temptations waned in the late 70s and early 80s until they returned to their old friends at Motown. They toured through the 80s to crowds of old fans, singing their classic soul songs. The group continued touring and recording into the 1990s, and while young audiences didn't jump at the chance to hear t