The Primes
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The Primes

In 1955, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Willy Waller, and Kell Osborne, were singing in local talent shows in their hometown. Realizing they would never make it if they stayed in Birmingham, Eddie and Paul left for Cleveland, where they became The Cavaliers. In the beginning they worked at the Majestic Hotel on 55th & Central. Kendricks washed dishes and Williams worked as a bellhop. They also got to perform in the hotel’s Rose Room with the now deceased dancer/contortionist Caldonia Young, but the group never recorded.

With nothing happening in Cleveland, the two moved to Detroit, along with new manager Milton Jenkins, uncle of Michigan State University criminologist Carl Taylor, who remembers The Primes rehearsing in the basement of his home, singing for as long as his father could stand it, which was often until midnight. Sometimes the guys would literally "sing for their supper", performing a capella at somebody's anniversary party or eight course Sunday dinner, then reaching for a knife and fork.

When Jenkins met the Primes, they were just one of many unknown groups around. Once he saw their show, he was convinced they had star potential. They were young, good-looking, and talented. He soon would invest every extra cent into The Primes' new suits and stylish processed hairstyles. Jenkins, who often wore flashy sharkskin suits, was obsessed with appearances. He insisted everything about him and his act be first-class, and he chauffeured The Primes to every gig they played in in his shiny, red 1957 Cadillac.

When future Temptation Otis Williams and his group shared rehearsal space with The Primes, they couldn’t help but notice Kendricks’ vocal prowess and Paul Williams smooth and classy choreography.

The group would sometimes engage in vocal battles with other groups at clubs and house parties, but with no real success so far, the trio became discouraged, and in 1961, tired of the small club "gigs", Kendricks decided to return home to Birmingham, Kell Osborne moved to California hoping to go solo, and The Primes disbanded.

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