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Paul Williams

"The Early Years"

Paul Williams was considered the heart and soul of the group, with his emotionally charged heart stopping baritone. His heart-wrenching version of "For Once In My Life", could hold an audience spellbound and in the palm of his hand.

Paul was born July 2, 1939 in Birmingham, Alabama. He sang in the church choir, where he met and befriended Eddie Kendricks. The two, along with Kell Osborne would make their way to Detroit. Even as smooth and polished as they wereThe Primes, would only become one of many unknown groups around the city. Tired of small time gigs, the group split up.

Otis Williams, who had seen The Primes rehearse, just happened to have two spots to fill in his group, The Distants. He would be more than happy to have the two groups merge. The merging of the two groups would become The Elgins.

After an audition for Motown's founder, Berry Gordy, who was impressed by Paul's earthy baritone, the group was offered a contract on the spot, and they changed their name to The Temptations.

Paul was a fabulous dancer, and elements of his style would later be evident in all The Temptations' great moves. The steps and hand gestures he created were clever, sexy, and unique. The group would spend hours practicing their moves and their singing.

In the group's early years, most of their material was written by Smokey Robinson with the leads going to Paul or Eddie. Paul fronted the group on a series of early records between 1961 and 1963 including "Oh Mother Of Mine", "Romance Without Finance", "Check Yourself", "The Further You Look, The Less You See", and "I Want I Love I Can See". Things would change when David joined the group in 1964, despite the fact that Paul was always a star, and his show stopping numbers were equal to none.

By the Spring of 1969, financial and emotional pressures were bearing down on Paul. A man who used to drink nothing stronger than milk, would become dependent on alcohol, but the real problem would be his health. Onstage, he would reach a point where he was gasping for breath, and eventually the group would travel with an oxygen tank for Paul. As Williams got sicker, he had no choice but to come off the road, and in 1971, Paul Williams would have no choice but to leave the group.

Even though Paul was no longer in the group, the guys saw each other regularly and in 1973, Eddie reached out to Paul, producing and co-writing a solo song for him titled "Feel Like Givin' Up". Any consideration of releasing that song, with it's lyrics that were too literal to bear, came to a halt with the tragic suicide of Paul Williams. The song eventually would be released in 1995 as part of a Temptations' compilation. Paul Williams made an outstanding contribution to Motown and he will not be easily forgotten.

In Loving Memory Of Paul Williams