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"A Children's Treasury of Articles & Clippings About The Temptations"



...because I keep running across these pieces and quite a few of them are eye-opening.

Most of these are newspaper and magazine articles. Some may be book excerpts or even YouTube videos.

Many of them will involve interpersonal conflict, essentially Otis and/or Motown vs. the Tempt of your choice.


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Topic Outline
Subject Author Message Date ID
Paul Williams could have been Shawty Lo (swipe)
Feb 14th 2013
Dennis Edwards tells all post-Tempts stint #1, 1977 (sw, long & messy)
Feb 14th 2013
...and Otis' rebuttal (swipe, also long & messy)
Feb 14th 2013
What REALLY happened when Ruffin stole Edwards' mic (book excerpt)
Feb 14th 2013

Member since Jun 28th 2011
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Thu Feb-14-13 11:26 PM

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1. "Paul Williams could have been Shawty Lo (swipe)"
In response to Reply # 0



Temptations heir sues sister over lost royalties (MI)
June 28, 2011
Detroit— Kenneth Williams went to prison for strangling his great-aunt with a telephone cord in 1989, the same year his father was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Before entering prison, the younger Williams asked his sister to save his share of royalty checks he inherited from his dad, Paul Williams, one of the original members of the Temptations, the superstar Motown group known for the hits “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.”

“I figured I was well off,” Kenneth Williams, 49, told The Detroit News.

The Redford Township man was released from prison in July after serving more than 20 years and discovered the money — estimated at more than $200,000 — was gone. His sister, Paula Williams, spent it, according to a complaint he filed against her in federal court in Detroit.

The accusation serves as another sad footnote to the legacy of Motown legend Paul Williams, the baritone singer who choreographed the group’s stylish dance moves, and who died in 1973 under murky circumstances. And it is the latest in a long line of fights over one of the most consistently lucrative commodities to come out of Detroit in 51 years: Motown royalties.

The accusations add a new layer of drama to one of the most successful, and tragic, acts in the Motown Records stable. It is a stable filled with stars whose success and tragedies — including premature deaths, murder, drug addiction and legal woes — have inspired Broadway musicals, TV movies and reams of tell-all books.

Federal and Wayne County court records expose a fight within a family dogged by disaster in the decades after Paul Williams and four friends topped the charts.

Thanks to all those hits, Williams’ heirs split about $80,000 a year in Motown royalties based on sales of the group’s music, Paul Williams’ likeness and other rights. The royalties were paid out twice a year.

Motown money fights, which are not unique to the Williams family, are somewhat ironic, said Peter Benjaminson, author of “The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard.”

“When Motown started, there weren’t any significant royalties for most people,” he said. “The average rock star had one hit, then tried for another one, failed, and went to work at a factory.

“One of the big surprises for Motown and everyone who worked for it is how long the songs have lasted and sold.”

It’s hard for Paul Williams Jr., who was 7 years old when his father died, to say whether the royalties are a blessing or a curse.

“Money, ugh,” Paul Jr. said. “What money does to people, I don’t understand.”

His sister Paula declined comment through her lawyer.

Long battle

The Williams family has been fighting for Motown royalties since Aug. 17, 1973, the day Paul Williams died at age 34 of what police said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had left the Temptations in 1971.

He was coping with health and personal issues at the time and was estranged from his wife, Mary Agnes Williams. A divorce was pending.

In 1987, 14 years after he died, the family reopened Paul Williams’ estate to pursue royalties owed by Motown and determine his rightful heirs, a complicated task because Williams died without a will.

Williams’ family accused Motown of not paying any royalties after the singer died.

The family claimed it was owed $195,000. But Motown said the family could not pursue royalties that were more than 6 years old.

The family eventually settled in March 1988 for $96,520. That covered the years 1981 through June 1987.

Next, Wayne County Probate Judge Joseph Pernick had to divide the royalty pie and determine shares and heirs.

Williams had three daughters and two sons — Sarita, Paula and Mary and Kenneth and Paul Jr. — with wife Mary Agnes.

Before he died, Paul Williams acknowledged fathering a sixth child, son Paul Williams Lucas.

The royalty pie was about to be divided — when a seventh child surfaced, a son born in 1968 to one of Paul Williams’ girlfriends.

Derrick Vinyard, who was 5 when Paul Williams died, wanted a share of the Motown royalties.

Paula Williams denied that Vinyard was an heir.

The Motown star’s brother, however, disagreed.

Johnny Williams said his brother never denied being Vinyard’s father, according to a 1988 deposition transcript filed in the probate case.

Johnny Williams said he saw Paul and Vinyard’s mother on dates at the Fox Theatre and the Twenty Grand nightclub. And there were rumors Paul Williams had fathered twins in Cleveland.

“He’s a breeder,” Johnny Williams said of his brother during the deposition.

The judge concluded Vinyard was an heir — and divided the late Motown star’s past and future royalties.

Paul Williams’ widow would get one-third. The seven children would split the rest equally.

In January 1989, the family agreed to have Paula parcel out the royalty checks to her four siblings and mother twice a year.

The two half siblings receive their money directly from the record company.

‘Prison saved my life’

Kenneth Williams didn’t have long to enjoy the windfall.

On July 18, 1989, he killed his 81-year-old great-aunt Mary Bryant inside her bungalow on Detroit’s northwest side. She was shot in the head and strangled with a telephone cord, which a neighbor found wrapped three times around the woman’s throat, according to a published report.

Kenneth Williams was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison.

“I was out of my mind on crack cocaine,” Williams said. “I was out of control. Prison basically saved my life.”

Young Kenneth had lived a charmed life before the death of his father.

Kenneth spent nights on the road with his father and the group in Las Vegas, Miami and Atlanta.

“Where the show went, I went,” he said.

Kenneth, nicknamed “Bossman” by his dad, spent afternoons learning from Temptations frontman Dennis Edwards how to make paper airplanes, which he threw out a window from an upper floor of Motown headquarters along Woodward.

Kenneth was 11 when his father died. The outgoing youngster turned angry, rebellious and “was put out of every school in Detroit.”

“I was lost,” he said. “I lost my best friend.”

At 19, he smoked his first joint.

At 25, he tried cocaine.

At 27, “that —- took me to another place,” he says.

That’s how old he was when he strangled his great-aunt. He turned 28 just before heading to prison.

“I was trying to deal with why I was in prison and what made me go there,” he said. “The money? I wasn’t even thinking about it.”

He thought the cash was safe during the 7,536 days he spent in prison. He was released July 23, after serving more than 20 years.

Money was gone

He soon learned his cash was gone and confronted his sister, who admitted spending the money, he alleges in a court filing.

“She thought he was never going to get out of prison,” his lawyer Kenneth Burger wrote in a lawsuit.

Paul Williams Jr., told The Detroit News he hasn’t received his full share of royalties in years from Paula.

“She’s doing it to all of us,” Paul Jr. of Sterling Heights said. “She did right by us for 10 years, but she’s been slipping since then. It’s greed.”

Kenneth, meanwhile, works 15-hour days at construction sites while his lawsuit against his sister and Motown successor Universal Music Group is pending in federal court. He alleges breach of contract, negligence, fraud and conspiracy, among other charges, and wants unspecified damages.

It’s a complicated fight because his sister filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Detroit in December.

The bankruptcy filing provides rare insight into the value of Motown royalties because Paula had to list how much she received in recent years.

She received $40,594 in 2008. A year later, the Motown royalties rose to $58,036, according to the filing.

Kenneth Williams has asked Universal to send future payments directly to his house.

He refuses to be bitter or angry despite the fight with his sister.

“I’m still there for her if she needs me,” Williams said. “But I don’t trust people after what I’ve been through. We live in a wicked world.”


Temptations heir sues sister over lost royalties
Robert Snell
June 25, 2011
The Detroit News


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2. "Dennis Edwards tells all post-Tempts stint #1, 1977 (sw, long & messy)"
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Written on June 6, 1977 by Leonard Pitts Jr.
Dennis Edwards and The Sinking Of The Good Ship Temptations

The press release was terse and to the point. "The Temptations and Dennis Edwards have mutually agreed to terminate their association in order for Edwards to pursue a separate career. A replacement for Edwards will be announced in the near future."

One might never have known from reading it that a bit more than an "association" had ended. It was almost a musical era, an era that began spectacularly in 1968 with an innovative song called "CLOUD NINE," which garnered gold and a first Grammy for the group. The era ended inconspicuously in 1977, it's passing marked only by an unsuccessful little single called "Who Are You?" from an unsuccessful little album called "The Temptations."

At the beginning of the "era" the group was universally acclaimed the world's #1 male recording group. At the end, their records were not selling, and they were having trouble filling concert halls they once would have filled with ease. What happened in the interim is a story in itself. Of course, there were the many personnel changes, which helped to weaken the Temptations as a musical force. Then too, other groups exploded- The Jackson Five in 1969, The O'Jays in 1972, the Spinners in 1971.

"It's a new era out there now," says Dennis Edwards, "and we didn't change, man. We didn't change." His long frame seems out of place in the rigid little chair, and periodically he bounces to his feet to pace around SOUL's offices as he speaks. His enthusiasm is like that of a child's in it's intensity-certainly a far cry from the egotism of which fans have sometimes accused him. It is only when he speaks about his years as a Temptation that the incredible sadness creeps into his manner.

"I'd be upset man, when we'd go out there and it didn't come off like the Temptations. That's what makes me mad. I can notice when a group like the O'Jays comes on stage before us and it'll be really hot when we come on. I remember when Gladys & the Pips and The O'Jays were on the show with us- that's when we had Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams-and we held our own." He stresses though, that "That was in the days-the good old days."

"I would be so mad after shows, because I would go out and I would know what was happening. I've found friends of mine, they would come to me and say, 'Great show man, great show!' I'd look at them and say, 'How was the show, man?' I'm the type of cat you couldn't hide it from. I'd see this and it would hurt. I would say, 'Hey man, tell me. I want to know.' "If I knew the O'Jays had just kicked us in the behind, it would hurt. I couldn't go out and party. Sometimes they would see me after shows, I would be really hurt because of my pride as a singer. Maybe they got it, as far as how much pride they care about. But see, my thing is, if I'm gonna be with somebody, I wanna be #1. I want to either be with the best, or don't wanna be with it. When you can't see that you're slippin', that's bad.

"You don't understand how it feels to go up there and do a show and the show ain't right, and everybody's applauding. I have been so mad, I just didn't want to come out of the dressing room. I would wait two or three hours until people leave, because I didn't want to hear 'Great show!' and I know it wasn't."

The words are bitter, and inflict telling damage to the fourteen-year-old Temptations legend. During the group's years of fame, they have often been called the "Emperors of Soul," "legends in their own time," and the "world's number one singing group." Group members often express a fierce, defensive pride in the Temptations, but for Dennis Edwards at least, it was a pride which faded as the group's records stopped selling, as the slogans become more hype and less truth.

"I would look up and see the Spinners and the O'Jays REALLY singing! I would want to stop and just do a whole 'nother type of thing. I'd say, 'Hey wow! These cats are SINGING, man!' And I think I kind of lost that ‘pride of the Temptations' thing. I wanted to do another thing. I wanted to get another show. I wanted the show to be better. I was watching groups and they were kicking ass, you know? Seriously. There's no other way you can look at that. I'd say, 'We got to do somethin'.' I might say a statement in the dressing room that would start a revolution. I might say that I think the O'jays are the number one group. It would be, (mocking a shocked, disbelieving voice) 'You've lost your feeling for the group, your pride!' But it wouldn't be that, it would be my honesty. Lots of times, they (The Temptations) would really be mad, because I would say, 'Hey, those cats are really bad!' " Edwards remembers that when the O'Jays came out with their famous "Ship Ahoy" show opener, "I wanted to rehearse for a year! We could have done it, but you can't do that type of thing and have little inner things."

Among other problems, the 'little inner things' concerned group jealousy over the number of songs on which Edwards sang lead. He says "The 'Song For You' album was very successful. I did a lot of lead on that, and right after then, we got to the point where the members of the group were unhappy because of the fact that I was doing a lot of lead. So we started having all these types of little confusions. It got touchy. I've been singing all my life, and I was really shocked at the problems we would have about lead. I come to find out that a lot of groups have the same problem."

Probably they do. But those other groups do not suffer those problems to the extent that the Temptations have. Other groups do not have those problems to the extent that they cannot even get together enough to go into the studio and record. Other groups do not, but the Temptations did.

Edwards claims, for instance, that on many tunes on the group's "Wings Of Love" LP, there is only his voice and perhaps one or two of his fellow Temptations. Some tunes have only him singing the lead with no background, and on others the background voices do not belong to the Temps. "While we were squabbling over who was gonna lead what, an album came out. You've got to put out something. You can only go on for so long on who you are".

Edwards says he was caught between producers who wanted him to lead the majority of the songs, and groupmates who didn't. It got so bad that when "The Temptations" album was being recorded, "I didn't really want to lead on any of them (songs). I always want to make peace. I never want to cause any little problems because of leading. To me, it (became) unnecessary. The reason it became like it was because of the producers. You go to a producer, and he picks out who he wants to do a song. I try to be a singer If I had to sing baritone every note, every song, it would be fantastic. I'm just glad to get out of the ghetto."

He laughs, but the laugh is only half-deceiving. The hurt is still there, the sadness that seems automatic in talking about the Temptations, about his ten years with a legend gone stale. Of course, one of the major factors in the stagnation of the group is its massive number of personnel changes-seven in all. "When Eddie left, it kind of really..." His voice trails off, leaving one to one's own conjectures. He adds, "I thought Eddie was one of the most stabilizing factors of this group.

Edwards says that the departure of Eddie Kendricks and the retirement of Paul Williams were what initially tempted him to leave the group - way back in 1971.

"When I got in the group, I told the whole group, 'The most important man in this group is Eddie Kendricks.' As a fan the only thing I used to visualize was that tenor. A lot of guys didn't want to give Eddie the credit. I never will forget when Eddie left. I had to sing his parts. We had to go on stage that night- it was unexpected. That was the night that he had left, and they had arguments. After that show, that's when I really started thinking about the Temptations. At one time I really had the pride and everything-when Paul Williams was living. Thought we were the baddest group in the world."

A lot of things have happened since the Temptations were "the baddest group in the world." One of those things was the hiring and firing of young singer Damon Harris, who took Kendricks' place. Damon, whom Edwards describes as inquisitive, would question Edwards about faults in the way that the group was run , and Edwards would explain to the best of his ability. Damon would then question his failure to bring up the faults to the rest of the group. According to Dennis Edwards, that's something that just wasn't done.

"I think everybody that is a replacement is reminded of that in the group. The original members run the group. It's okay. Like I say, it's their group. We had a democracy thing and I only had one vote. It's very fair, you know? If you're with a democracy and everything's fair and you're still not getting your sayso - what can you say?"

He adds though that while the voting might have been fair, he still questions the wisdom of some of the group's decisions. "I always wanted my opinion voiced, that's all. I would take care of my job stagewise, but other than that, a lot of decisions were made and I just kind of went along.
"My biggest problem is not saying nothing. Damon was outspoken-but maybe at the wrong times" Nevertheless Dennis says that at times he envied Damon's outspoken attitude. "He didn't mean no harm. Sometimes you cannot bring up stuff like that when you're dealing with old guys that's set in their ways.

"I like Melvin (original Temptation Melvin Franklin) as a brother. I don't know whether he dislikes me or not, but I cannot go along with him on some of his ways as far as the Temptation supremacy thing, and being an institution. All that's great, but I don't feel that way now. When we were#1, I felt cocky and I told everybody about it. But when we started to slip, I also was the first one to say, 'Hey somethin' ain't right!' Melvin and Otis' (veteran Temp, Otis Williams) philosophy was, being a Temptation 24 hours. I was a Temptation for that hour that I was up there. I gave them 189%.

"Fans never knew of Dennis' complaints because all interviews with the Temptations were usually controlled by the original two members. "The Temptations have a set pattern as to who does the interviews. It's usually the same couple of guys. I was a replacement, and when you're a replacement you have to always ... just remember. You're always reminded of that, and it's their right to remind you. People have accepted me before my group did. The fans have been great."
Of the Temptations, Edwards says, "I wish 'em all the luck in the world. I think they're gone on a gig, and I hear they got a standing ovation, which is great. I just hope they become the #1 group again. If they do, I'll find out maybe I was the problem."

The Temptations, ever true to form then, are on the road again with their new lead singer Louis Price. What in the meantime is happening to Edwards, who gave ten years of his life to the group? " I was doing an album with Motown, and we're in the middle of contract negotiations now. The only problem I'm having with them now, I want to get an album out, and I want a nice deal. I asked for something, and I found out in this business you can't ask for nothin' if you're a nobody. I'm finding out after ten years - I guess I'm a nobody."

Fans have often been heard to single Edwards out as the flightiest member of the group, the egotistical one. He certainly doesn't seem that way now. "A lot of times I might have appeared cold, but I was just trying to keep my job. I hate that people have felt like that about me. A lot of people don't know me, and that's because I've never really had an interview. I've never been on a star thing. I've just always been trying to make a living. I've been in the streets, a hustler all my life.

"I'm really going through a little hurt thing,” says the tall singer. After all these be put on a shelf." Edwards has already said that he made very little money in his last years as a Temptation. That and the fees paid to the lawyers that are negotiating his contract with Motown are forcing him into a financial bind. He expresses a fear that he might end up signing a deal that he doesn't really want to sign. Although he still laughs, his worry and concern over his own future are far too obvious. "I've got a lawyer, and I'm just paying lawyer money. I'm at a standstill. I've asked them for a release. They say they don't like the album, but I just followed directions. They asked me to cut an album and I cut it."

He plays a cassette of some of the songs. The tiny speaker of the tape recorder vibrates with pleasant, jazzy melodies, intricate guitar arrangements, and over all, the soulful, haunting voice of Dennis Edwards on unreleased tunes like "destiny", "Summer Love," and "Earthquake". As the tape plays, the former Temptation is lip-syncing happily along. The music is good, at least as good as anything he has done with the Tempts for the last three or four years.

Ten years ago, Dennis Edwards first took the stage as a Temptation. "It was really weird for me, 'cause I was a little cocky about singing-always thought I could sing. Then all of a sudden I realized that it was more than just being a singer. That's the easiest part of your job-the voice."
In late October of 1976, Edwards was on stage for the last time as a Temptation. It was a sensation that he describes as "really a depressing feeling, going out for the last time with a group I've spent ten years of my life with."

Dennis Edwards served as a Temptation far longer than any of his fellow replacement members. He saw the group in its pacesetting heyday, and from that, through to what it has allowed itself to become today. He says, "A lot of times, I've felt proud of being a temptation. A lot of times I've felt ashamed".

There is no one reason why Dennis Edwards left the Temptations. There are ten years of them, ten years of various problems, confusions, and hurts. But then, too, there had to have been many triumphs, many good times. Those are probably the times of which the singer is proudest.
In the end then, Edwards says that he left because he "didn't feel like being a part. It wasn't, he explains, what it really was supposed to be."


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3. "...and Otis' rebuttal (swipe, also long & messy)"
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Written by Leonard Pitts Jr,

July 18, 1977
The Temptations are embattled these days, from all sides. It Comes from the charts, where the group hasn't had a hit album or single in two years. It comes at from their fans who don't flock to their concerts with the same enthusiasm that they once did. Also, it comes from within the group, as witnessed by the 1975 firing of young Damon Harris, who in turn complained that his childhood dream of being a Tempt had slowly become "a nightmare".

While Harris' unflattering description of life as a Tempt caused more than a few eyebrows to rise, it was the most recent group dropout who caused the most furor. Recently Dennis Edwards sat down with SOUL and in a story called "Dennis Edwards and the Sinking Of The Good Ship Temptations", talked about his ten years with the group. In the article, he complained about his former groupmates as "old guys that's set in their ways. When you can't se that you're slipping", he said, "that's bad." Edwards' article was enough to draw four of the five Tempts into their manager's Sunset Blvd. office to tell their side of the story, and interestingly enough, the thing that they seem most upset about is the title.

Veteran Temptation Otis Williams leads off, saying that the title "wasn't cool". Don't nobody sink this but the public. I think that the title was a little too strong, because I don't think you, nor Dennis, hold the fate of the Temptations. The public does that, and when we get ovations like what we got at the Forum for singing the National Anthem, I don't see where that title is appropriate.

"When I read this (title), I said "It's got to be with selling papers.' But , I still think you can sell papers and tell the truth".

That "truth" then, as the Temptations see it, involves their story, a story of poor promotion and poor producers at their home of almost twenty years, Motown records. This is what they blame for the recent dramatic decline in their record sales. And on top of the story, the temptations also have a task. The group's legend is tarnished these days, sustained by the accusations of two former members, those declining record sales, and their fast-sinking popularity. In short, they have a legend to set aright, and they seen single-minded in that task.

Glen Leonard says, "I wish Dennis all the success in the world. I wish him happiness. I wish him what he really wants in life. But, we're not here to get into what Dennis says. That's his opinion, and he's entitled to that. What I would like to say is that we are doing positive things. We are functioning. We are about unity. We are about taking care of business and making music."

Richard Street is a bit more emphatic. "We couldn't communicate with the company, the company wasn't communicating with us. Now that we are no longer a part of Motown, I feel like the Temptations will be very successful, because now we're happy. If the company would have been behind the Temptations, I don't think the group broke up the way it did-not saying that everybody would still be here, because every man wants to do their own thing."

"It takes more than a group", says Williams. "Things behind us stopped happening and it slowly started affecting us-which we realized quite some time ago. In part, this is why I can't understand where he (Dennis) is coming from, butt hen again, knowing Dennis you don't get mad-you understand the makeup of the man. But it wasn't necessarily like a lot of things he was saying."
What was it like then? Williams complains that Motown records is "not adequate in the area of producers." He says that after the group's records under producer Norman Whitfield ceased to sell, there was seemingly no interest in finding them a new producer capable of working with the group. He mentions that although things clicked once with producer Jeff Bowen's Song For You LP, it still wasn't something worthy of "a group of this caliber".

Franklin adds that Motown often "mistakes luck for genius", in their producers, and Williams went on to claim that the group has never had the consummate producer like Thom Bell or Gamble & Huff who study each voice in the group and tailor the songs around the entire group. He cites Smokey Robinson as the group's only producer to do that-way back in the early and mid 60's. More recent producers have chosen the "easiest" way - letting Dennis Edwards do leads on virtually all the group's material.

"Everybody in here can sing", says Street. "The reason why you ain't heard from everybody in here is because of the way the material was given to us to sing. We wasn't makin' up those LP's ! THEY decided what was gonna put out on that way!" He goes on to describe producer Jeff Bowen as "a crazy man (who always) degrading you as a human being".

Leonard explains, "When you go into the studio with a producer who doesn't know what he wants, who doesn't have lyrics to his songs, or doesn't have definite melodies, and he gets in there and he's scrambling your brain, and spending your money, and you've got bills to pay, and families to feed-that's enough to make a man have a nervous breakdown, and that's what they were doing. One night we left and Melivn and I had to take Otis to the hospital. The doctors told him he couldn't stand the mental strain up there."

Melvin adds, "I told all the guys and I told Otis too, 'When we go into this, I did not mean for singing to have to cause this to happen to my friends'."

"A lot of things just started deteriorating", says Williams matter -of-factly," and we had to leave. A lot of bad blood came about".

The company was deciding what was being cut and who was going to do it.....everything!" says Richard Street. "They had their politics, just like anybody else. They had their favorites, and they has ones that they didn't like. I came under the heading of the ones they didn't like! I mean, seriously!"

Williams interjects, "Smokey Robinson - got to give it to him,' cause he's the only one over there that helped us get out of this. They were getting ready to get nasty, and we were getting ready to get nasty. Smokey is definitely in my opinion, one of GOD'S favorite children. He didn't want us to leave, but he didn't want no ugly situation". Any "ugly situation" would have stemmed from the fact that the company's ownership of the group's name, plus their individual contract on each man made it difficult for the group to get out intact.

"It was horrible," says Richard Street. "Some of the things that they sent me through, I'll never do again for nobody." With luck, he won't have to, because the group, complete with new member Louis Price, has settled into its new home at Atlantic records. Presently, they are in the studio, laying down tracks for a first LP, to be released sometime in August. They are excited about it, and Melvin Franklin goes so far as to declare, "We got it together! We got five functioning people away from the type of contractual situation we were under at Motown. It's much more the way it should've been, because we've been greatly exploited.

We've got a situation now that is conducive to success. For the first time as Black men in the business, we're not so overly familiar with people that they call you 'Hey boy !!' They (Atlantic) treat us with great dignity. They keep their word to the fullest."

Happy days are here again? So it seems. All four seem to be happy with Louis Price, who took Dennis' place. Williams says that "I think the public is waiting for us to come out with a fellow that sounds like Dennis. Louis don't sound nothing like Dennis. He don't sound nothing like David (Ruffin). Louis sounds like Louis Price."

And what do the Temptations think about the charges that their ex-member made about them? Williams explains, "We don't want to air no dirty linen out in the public, 'cause that don't do nothing but bring us down to what's already been said. Why is it that we as Black people got to tear one another down when we sever ties?"

"I don't feel like it's our nature to sling mud ," says Leonard. " I don't like that stuff happening to me. I don't like to talk about it or deal with it."

"Since you want to sell some papers," says Williams, "I'm gonna take it past the Tempts. We were in Florida, and I saw this gentle, nice old man (choreographer Cholly Atkins) go somewhere and kick something just to relieve the tension because of this man (Dennis) not participating as a member - he wouldn't come to rehearsals. I was surprised, but he said, 'Otis, it just bugs me for this cat to do this!' That's just one (example). We could go on, but like I say, we ain't trying to sling no mud."

Franklin rumbles, "I miss the dude, because he's been here for a lot of years and stuff like that. I wish him well, and I find this new thing with Louis Price challenging and exciting." To that, Richard Street adds, "We all know Dennis' got a lot of problems, personal problems that weigh a lot of his decisions-when he says a lot of things. Some people can take a lot of pressure, and some can't. He had a lot of pressure on his back."

One of the group's publicists is in the room, and, in an attempt to put things "in perspective," he asks rhetorically, "Who was Dennis Edwards before he was a Temptation? Who is Dennis Edwards after he's not a Temptation?"

The intent of his question is matched by a very blunt Otis Williams. He is leaning his chair back on two legs as he says, "I'm gonna be very honest with you. I DON'T miss Dennis. Anybody that hurts the group -- I don't miss that. I miss somebody that loves the Temptations and wants to help. He was hurting us, so I don't miss that."

That's it then - the group's full range of opinions on the "sinking of the good ship". Still, love him or loathe him, there is one thing which the Tempts must acknowledge about Edwards. With his gutsy leads and sex symbol image, Edwards was an extremely popular centerpiece to the group for many years, and the group benefited. Many fans are going to be disappointed when they look on album covers and stages and see that he's not there. That and the fact that that they haven't had a hit in two years puts the Tempts in deep water, deeper indeed than after the departures of Eddie Kendricks, Damon Harris, Paul Williams, or even David Ruffin.

Characteristically, the Tempts are unworried. Otis says, "I don't think we've been more optimistic in our careers than we are now. Melvin says, "There's people who think it might be over. That exists. That's real. I'm not dodging that at all. But, it's for the people who believe in us that we continue."

Richard Street goes so far as to lean over into the microphone of the tape recorder, and in a voice reminiscent of a Bill Cosby monologue, announces, "We are cool. We are just waiting to get this next LP out, fans, and we are coming back strong as ever! Thank You."

He laughs, and the room laughs with him, but meantime there is a horde of cynical journalists and fans who scorn any chance of the Tempts coming back "strong as ever". Certainly, looking at the mountain of odds stacked against the group, one has to admit that they have a point.
Yet on the other hand, if they come out of the studio with a smash album in August, it will not be the first time the Tempts made monkeys out of the doubters of the world. Can they pull off the improbably once again? No one, not even the group can know that they can-or cannot. It all depends upon the strength of their new material, and the willingness of a fickle public to reaccept them. Yet, watching them, listening to them laugh and express such confidence in their own abilities, one is apt to be lulled into their sense of security. They might just pull it off after all.


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4. "What REALLY happened when Ruffin stole Edwards' mic (book excerpt)"
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Because of their backlog of concert dates that had been booked before Ruffin’s firing, Norman Whitfield had to wait until October to get Edwards into the studio, giving him more time to assimilate. As a stopgap, Motown on July 16 released a tepid, year-old Whitfield- Barrett Strong ballad intended as fodder on the Wish It Would Rain album, “Please Return Your Love to Me,” featuring Eddie on lead. For the B-side, Whitfield called the four Temptations in only days after Ruffin was given his walking papers and cut “How Can I Forget,” with Paul getting a rare lead. (Marvin Gaye would cover the song two years later.) That the Tempts’ brand was so strong was proven by the underwhelming record going to No. 26 pop, No. 4 R&B.

Out on the road, meanwhile, word spread fast that Ruffin was out and the unknown Edwards in, and promoters who fretted that some fans would return tickets were assured when almost no one did, either because, as Otis always said, no one was bigger than the group, or simply out of curiosity about the change. What’s more, new bookings went on apace. Still, not everyone in those houses was so supportive. At some stops, cries of “Where’s David?” rang out from the crowd.

The real trial for Edwards, and the group, came on July 9, 1968, at a show in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, a gig promoted as his “official” debut. By now, he had gained confidence and the confidence of the other Tempts. The act reflected the post-Ruffin sensibility. For the last few years, one of their trademark props had been a microphone stand with four built-in microphones so as to allow the “backup” Temptations more free movement. Useful as it was, it had also created the image that with Ruffin they had been less a quintet than one plus four—not incidentally, Ruffin had designed the contraption. But now the stand was out.

But was Ruffin? Motown, in its press releases, had played it cute about him, saying exactly what Ruffin had told Edwards, that he had “left the group,” without any further explanation or even whether he would be back at some point. If this was a sop to David, it was also a stimulus for him not to go away quietly. At Valley Forge, this became clear when Don Foster, standing in an aisle in front of the circular, revolving stage, saw a cobralike figure coming down the aisle, headed straight for the stage. When he stepped in his way, Foster saw the man’s face illuminated by the stage lights.

“David!” he said. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

The answer came in the form of hard openhanded slap across his face, the sound of which was drowned out by the music and crowd noise. Thrown back on his heels, Foster could not stop Ruffin from bounding in one long stride onto the stage, just as Edwards was breaking into the lead vocal of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” He had just finished singing, “I know you wanna leave me,” when Ruffin took the microphone from his hand and completed the refrain: “But I refuse to let you go.”

For a split second, no one knew quite what to do. The Temptations shuffled on, tried to act nonchalantly. Foster began frantically calling security. Then, as the audience recognized the shadowy figure as David Ruffin, a festive mood grew in the hall. What no one knew was that Ruffin had bought his way into the arena and laid low until he could choose the moment he would make a grand entrance—or re-entrance, since that was what it appeared to be. Indeed, after Ruffin had stolen the microphone, Edwards pretty much ceased to exist. Awkwardly, he floated over to the other Tempts and tried to blend in with them on the background vocals, albeit with no microphone to sing into. Otis, Melvin, Paul, and Eddie didn’t blink, but did glance at each other with a collective “what do we do now?” look—though Eddie, who had begun voicing the idea that Ruffin should be taken back, was unable to stifle a grin, as if greatly enjoying the manic moment as much as the crowd did, judging by all the howling and whooping during the song.

Ruffin had pulled it off so deftly, so quickly and fluently, that it sure did seem to demonstrate that he was still a Temptation, that he really had just taken a sabbatical until he was ready to resume his famous role. This notion was reinforced by Edwards not fighting to hold on to his microphone. In fact, the recreation of this scene in the 1998 Temptations miniseries, which shows him being forcibly stripped of the mike and then stalking around the stage, humiliated and wearing a scowl, is perfect nonsense.

“That’s not the way it was,” Edwards insists. “David didn’t need to rip the microphone from my hands — I _gave_ it to him. I wasn’t upset, I was happy he was there. My dream was always to sing with David Ruffin, and that night I did.” He laughs. “Even if no one could hear me.”

Neither were the other Tempts particularly aghast. Another piece of movie nonsense was that they chased after Ruffin when the song was done, wanting to tear him limb from limb. Or that Ruffin begged them to be reinstated before being carted off by security. In reality Ruffin left the building on his own as the show continued. The entire episode was that quick—almost as quick as the way Otis dealt with it in his memoir, calling it “a stunt.”

Today, he goes on, “Yeah, we took a little dramatic license to make flow. David was just trying to get back in the group and that was his way of proving his point, because of the crowd reaction. It was just so David, so crazy. It was funny in a way.” Don Foster wasn’t laughing. After the show, there were red welts in the shape of Ruffin’s fingers branded on his face. When he came backstage, he was steaming. “If he ever puts his hands on me again, I’m gonna kill him!” he told Otis.

Foster is no less adamant today, saying, “I would have killed him, too, if he tried slapping me again. It was at the point where I was gonna get him taken care of by the Mafia folks who hung out at the Copa.” If Foster is only semi-serious about that, very serious indeed was the Ruffin situation. “I knew that wasn’t a one-shot deal,” he goes on, “that he’d do it again, because David was a junkie in many ways, a drug junkie but also an attention junkie. What he’d gotten at Valley Forge was like a fix, and he’d be back for more.”

He was right. Ruffin repeated his “guest” pop-in/pop-out appearances at three other Temptations shows over the following month, and even though Foster put local security on notice to be on the lookout for him at every venue, David, as stealthily as a commando, outfoxed everybody. It became something of a running subplot, with fans in each town craning their necks during the shows to see if they could see Ruffin either hiding or slithering through the aisles. He was so canny that he found ways to navigate around Foster and house security people, switching his entree from “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg ” to “My Girl” or other songs. Foster could only watch and do a slow burn as Ruffin sang his song and vanished. His only recourse, he determined, was not to sic security on him, as that would cause a furor among the fans, but to prevent him from getting to the stage, which would require additional security. Toward that end, he called Motown president Ewart Abner — Gordy had made himself chairman — and told him, “I need some help out here!”

As Foster explains, “David was desperate and blitzed on coke, and he had guns and his people had guns. I had to fear the worst.”

Ribowsky, Mark (2010-09-14). Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The Troubled Lives and Enduring Soul of the Temptations (pp. 186-188). John Wiley and Sons. Kindle Edition.


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