The Temptations

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About The Temptations

Just about every R&B vocal group formed since the mid-’60s owes a debt to The Temptations, who came together in Detroit in 1960 and quickly forged a ubiquitous template marked by sartorial splendor, elaborate choreography, and sublime harmony singing, matching artistry with commercial savvy. Signed by Motown Records in 1961, they helped establish the label’s polished strain of driving, meticulously arranged soul with a string of indelible singles, continuing well into the 1970s, that remain inescapable signifiers of the naïveté, hope, and tumult of America during the period. The group updated its sound often, moving from early hits written by Smokey Robinson, including the irresistibly sunny “My Girl,” to a tougher attack, with singers David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks tapping into raw gospel roots on “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” Upon Ruffin’s departure, the Temptations under producer Norman Whitfield adroitly adapted to changing tastes, embracing a mixture of funk and psychedelia on songs like the No. 1 smash “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” They have weathered many personnel changes since, with only founding member Otis Williams a constant. In 1982 Kendricks and Ruffin returned for the one-off Reunion album and tour, and the group continued to chart R&B hits through the late ’90s.

Detroit, MI, United States
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