It was with Otis Williams that it all began. Were it not for his determination, Motown's supergroup, The Temptations, may never have been. He was the one whose smooth and creamy vocals would blend it all together. He made it known from the beginning that he was the leader and businessman of the group. Despite many personnel changes within the group over the years, it was his stability that would keep the legacy alive.
He was born Otis Miles on October 30, 1939, in Texarkana, TX where he lived with his grandmother. About 10 years later, he moved to Detroit to live with his mother. As he got older, music began to consume more and more of his life, and before long, there was no doubt that any other career was out of the question, and eventually he would drop out of high school to pursue his career.
In the late 50's, Otis would put many little groups together with members dropping in and out. In 1959, he befriended schoolmate Melvin Franklin after hearing his voice on a track by The Voicemasters, and invited him to join his group, The Distants.
By early 1961, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams, members of a rival group, The Primes, would join members of The Distants Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin and Elbridge Bryant to form the Elgins. After auditioning for Berry Gordy and signing a contract with Motown, the group became The Temptations.
In the early part of the 1960's, the group wouldn't have any major success, but they were a group Berry Gordy believed in, and they worked hard to perfect their singing and their act.
In 1964, things turned around for the group. Group member Elbridge Bryant became a problem, and was replaced by David Ruffin. The group had their first hit in "The Way You Do The Things You Do", followed by "My Girl", their first number one smash.
Over the next few years the group would enjoy success, but trouble would begin again when David Ruffin's blossoming ego compiled with a drug problem, would force the group to dismiss him, an act that would be a major event in 1968.
Despite the change in personnel, the group would have continuing success with the addition of Dennis Edwards to the group. The music would change too, when Norman Whitfield took over most of the writing and producing.
In the early seventies, things began to crumble. Otis and Melvin prayed together, and pondered what their success really meant. There was tension between the group and producer Norman Whitfield. Paul Williams health was failing and Eddie Kendricks wanted a solo career, and in 1971, both Paul and Eddie would leave the group. It was the end of an era, and the end of the Temptations of Hitsville, USA.
Since 1995, all of the original members have passed on, and only Otis Williams remains. Through numerous personnel changes, Otis has pressed on.
In 1988 he wrote his autobiography relating the story of how it all began. In 1998 the NBC made for TV mini-series was born from the book. The highly successful mini-series, besides bringing back a flood of memories, would result in the birth of a whole new generation of Temptation fans.
But Otis put it best when he once said, "The Temptations still stand today, not in spite of those who left us, but because of them."
Otis Williams in Real Audio(must have RealPlayer)