Ahead of their upcoming tour, Motown legends The Temptations speak to MM to discuss the past, present and future.
The Motown Sound crafted the careers of countless musical deities. Spawning from Detroit in 1959, Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson brought the world Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and the era’s most successful band The Temptations, through Motown Records and sister label Tamla.
The Temptations have been with Motown from the very beginning; their success has been widely attributed to being part of the ‘classic Motown sound’. The ‘classic-five’ lineup of Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Otis Williams, Paul Williams and David Ruffin played an important role in the racial integration of popular music through a crossover sound of rhythm and blues and soul.
Standout songs from what can only be described as a remarkable career includes Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone, Beauty is Only Skin Deep, I Can’t Get Next to You and My Girl. The latter of the songs has no doubt been hijacked by many men for their wives, girlfriends and daughters.
Speaking on behalf of the band, founding member Otis Williams described how doing something that bridges ethnic tensities, for over 50 years, is a blessing that they had never taken for granted.
“Music is colourless; we have been loved and appreciated. So when you start to look at it in totality, it’s a blessing to be able to do something that I love doing and helping to take some of the pressure off of people at such a pressurised time. I’m just happy to be a part of something that can be such a positive force in everybody’s life,” he told MM in an interview earlier this afternoon.
The 70-year-old is the only surviving member of the original lineup and has never had retirement in sight. “I’m gonna ride the hair off the horse, when I get off the horse will be bald. That’s a lot of riding,” he joked.
The dedication and passion for making music and performing for fans is fresh, powerful and endless. Otis Williams has been gracious throughout his career and declared the band’s fans as being the essential ‘energy to continue’.
Selling tens of millions of albums to audiences worldwide, winning three Grammy awards, while hitting the number one spot on the R&B Billboard chart 14 times and releasing 43 studio albums is an outstanding career catalogue but it seems there’s no end in sight. Following the announcement of their upcoming UK tour, Williams said they would return home to work on in order to a release a new album of ‘fresh, new material’ for fans across the globe.
After growing up in the same neighboured as Diana Ross, The Temptations saw their career reach unprecedented prominence along with The Supremes front woman and paid tribute to Motown legend Smokey Robinson for moulding and shaping what is one of the most continuously cherished musical periods.
“It’s never something we thought would happen when we started out to be accepted and loved worldwide. Shelley Berger our manager, Harvey Fuqua, Maurice King the list is endless, I could go on for a long time. These are the people that helped shape and mould Motown and the artists so I have to give them credit because they have been very, very instrumental with The Temps.”
The endless list of people who poured love and commitment into the early quintet made their successes a ‘vocation rather than an application’.
The Temptations’ current lineup is that of Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon and Bruce Williamson, with their celebrated style of stage outfits and choreography making a hugely anticipated return in their upcoming Manchester gig.
Otis confessed they are all ‘shopaholics’ and will be heading to Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and London’s Harrods to explore the latest ‘innovative and wonderful fashion of England’. Otis said: “We’ll definitely be coming there with an extra bag to load up on some wonderful fashion over there. Half my wardrobe at home has people say to me ‘Otis where did you get that from?’ and I say London.”
Having been the soundtrack for many generation’s youth, The Temptations’ legacy has never looked close to fading. Propelled by the adoration for fans from Otis Williams, The Temptations will be bringing their exceptional catalogue of hits to Manchester on March 23.
With support coming from further Motown heroes The Four Tops, Manchester will be truly blessed by a band that believe playing Manchester is a blessing.
The Temptations – My Girl http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltRwmgYEUr8