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Eddie Kendricks

"The Solo Years"

In March of 1971, on the wings of his swan song, the gossamer ballad "Just My Imagination," Eddie Kendricks quit The Temptations. The song hung at number one of a couple of weeks, but by that time, Eddie had already gone. Thanks largely to the writing/producing team of Frank Wilson/Leonard Caston Eddie would quickly develop a sound of his own.

His first solo album All By Myself featured testimonials on the back cover from Otis, Melvin, Dennis, and Paul, stating that there were no hard feelings regarding his departure from the group. The debut album contained the significantly titled "It's So Hard For Me To Say Goodbye", and "This Used To Be The Home Of Johnnie Mae", a great ballad that showcases the strength of his natural tenor, that he rarely used within the confines of The Temptations. Can't forget the oh so sexy "Can I", from the same album, apparantly, Eddie added the sexy spoken segments pretty much right on the spot.

The second album, People...Hold On was also well received. The cover picture had Eddie sitting on a African throne, draped in a tux, and holding a spear. It contained the funky "If You Let Me", and the beautiful ballad "Just Memories."

In 1973, the self titled Eddie Kendricks showed that Kendricks had the perfect voice to accompany the disco track "Keep On Truckin", and could still serve up a #1 hit for Motown. Most of the tracks on that album were the love songs that Eddie preferred, including his version of "Any Day Now", a song done by Chuck Jackson in 1963 and a country hit by Ronnie Milsap in 1982. Eddie's version was superior, I think. Also included is "Each Day I Cry A Little" with a rather extensive one of those spoken segments, that Eddie could do so well.

Next up, the album Boogie Down containing the disco hit of the same name. Similar to "Keep On Truckin", but didn't fare as well, especially on the pop charts. It did, however make a good showing on the R&B charts. Much of the album has a disco beat, with some of the lyrics obviously written about himself, such as "The Thin Man", and "Son of Sagittarius", which was, of course, Eddie's astrological sign. Aside from the disco songs, "Trust Your Heart" is a pretty, Temptation-like song, and when you hear "Tell Her Love Has Felt The Need", you know that Eddie wasn't leaving the love songs behind.

Eddie would continue through the 1970's with good to moderate success. The 1974 album For You is a great one including the hit "Shoeshine Boy", and the creamy love songs, "Please Don't Go Away" and "Deep And Quiet Love", as well as his tender rendition of the Jim Croce song, "Time In A Bottle. Again, another good album in 1975, The Hit Man, included the moderate hit "Skippin' Work Today", inspired by the songwriter who was doing just that everyday. He was in the park across the street from the Hitsville West studio, playing tennis instead of working.

For the 1976 He's A Friend, Frank Wilson would turn over production to Norman Harris. This album and the next one Goin Up In Smoke would have spiritual tones. Religion would become important to Eddie around this time and is evidenced in the title song "He's A Friend" where he speaks of God as his friend. Also on that album, is a number called "It's Not What You Got", where he tells that although he only weighs 145lbs., he's well put together thanks to God, and that he knows how to use what he's got. In the next album, "Goin Up In Smoke" he takes us back to religion with songs like "Born Again", "Don't You Want Light", and the title song "Goin Up In Smoke". On that same album is "The Music Man", where he tells us that he sings about love, he sings about disco, and he sings about god. He pretty well sums it up in those lyrics.

Eddie wrapped up the 1970's with Slick. This one is my favorite because it contains the sweet and fragile "Baby". I love this song, and there's no doubt he still had the goods, right down to the lovely vibratto in his voice.

In the 1980's Eddie switched over to Atlantic for the release of the 1981 Love Keys, a gem of an album with all love songs. Following this album, things dropped off quite a bit and the 1980's wouldn't be very kind to Eddie. Following the 1982 reunion tour with The Temptations, he would find himself ingored by the record industry becuase it was rumored that he'd lost his voice. Adding to his problems, he would be in and out of court with ex-wife Patricia. At the time, Kendricks was living between Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama. In Atlanta, he had his own record label, Msdixie Records, a small independent company, but it would fold within a short time.

In the early 1980's, Eddie would do mostly benefits and some free concerts, with Mary Wells and Martha Reeves, and play clubs and nostalgia shows. In 1985, Kendricks was onstage at the Premier Center, sharing the bill with Mary Wilson, who was then fronting a group of Supremes. David Ruffin had come to see the performance, and Eddie invited him onstage. Less than a year later there would be a hot Kendrick-Ruffin tour. The duo would appear at The Apollo Theater with Hall & Oates, then at the biggest international music event in history, Live-Aid, and would be featured vocalists in the anti-apartheid "Sun City" record and video. The two would do an album together for RCA in 1987, called Ruffin and Kendrick. (Sometime in the early 1980's Eddie had dropped the "s" from his last name).

The duo of Ruffin and Kendrick would tour for the next couple of years, until their 1989 R&R Hall of Fame Induction along with four other Temptations. It was there that they got to talking with Dennis Edwards and the duo became a trio. The three would form a tight bond and would tour and record together.In early October of 1989, the trio, calling themselves Ruffin, Kendrick, Edwards, Former Leads of The Temptations, appeared on the Regis & Kathy Lee show to promote their latest album and tour, Get It While It's Hot.(David was somehow absent from this album, but not the promotional tour that followed.)

In 1991, Ruffin, Kendrick, and Edwards would produce a video, a real treasure for their fans, in association with Street Gold Productions. The video would become a tribute to David Ruffin when he died unexpectedly, and later, Dennis Edwards would be left to wrap things up, when Eddie would succumb to the cancer that had ravaged him for over a year. Eddie Kendrick, the tender falsetto, the sweetest and silkiest of tenors, who had given us so much enjoyment, was gone.

In Loving Memory of Eddie Kendrick