December, 2009 – The Temptations


Cultural Corner

The Temptations: The Beat Goes OnGlenn Swift

by Glenn R. Swift


For more than forty years, The Temptations have prospered, propelling popular music with a series of smash hits and sold-out performances throughout the world. Then again, the history of The Temptations is nothing less than the history of contemporary American pop.  

An essential component of the original Motown machine, that amazing engine invented by Berry Gordy, The Temps began their musical life in Detroit in the early ‘60s. It wasn’t until 1964; however, that the Smokey Robinson written-and-produced “The Way You Do, The Things You Do” turned the guys into stars. An avalanche of hits followed (“It’s Growing,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Beauty Is only Skin Deep,” “I Wish It Would Rain.”), many of which, “My Girl,” for instance, attained immortality.  

The Temptations Today: Otis Williams, Terry Weeks, G. C. Cameron, Ron Tyson and Joe Herndon"

The classic lineup was Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin. Beyond the fabulous singing, The Temps became known for smooth stepping and flawless presentations. The Temptations Walk became a staple of American style − flair, flash and class. In fact, millions of fans saw the Temptations as cultural heroes.


When the ‘60s and ‘70s turned political, The Temps got serious. They changed their tone, dress and music with producer Norman Whitfield leading the way. His Temptations hits, many featuring Dennis Edwards who had replaced David Ruffin, burned with intensity. “Runaway Child,” “Cloud Nine,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” and “Psychedelic Shack” still smolder. Other stellar singers, Richard Street and Ali-Ollie Woodson joined adding their luster to the group’s growing fame.  

The hits kept coming. 

In the ‘80s, The Temps prevailed with smashes like the Otis Williams’ penned “Treat Her Like A Lady.” Then in the ‘90s, another Temptation explosion. It began with their appearance on Motown 25 in 1983; it continued with the NBC mini-series that chronicled the group’s history, a ratings triumph over two nights in prime time. An Emmy Award followed. 

The rest as they say is history. 

Today audiences of all ages continue to enjoy the magic that is the Temptations. As for the secret behind their continued success… Well…it’s really pretty simple. You see, no matter the change in personnel, The Temptations have remained true to their tradition. They have survived the whims of fashion, whether disco or techno, and stuck to their guns.  

Great singing,” says Otis Williams, the group’s sole original member, “will always prevail.”


Don’t miss seeing one of the greatest pop vocal groups of all time, The Temptations, live and in person at the historic Sunrise Theatre in downtown Fort Pierce on Wednesday, December 30 at 8 p.m. For tickets or more information, call (772) 461-4775 or visit 


Glenn R. Swift is a freelance writer and editor living in Palm Beach Gardens. Winner of the Florida Magazine Association’s Bronze Award for Writing Excellence, Swift is Co-founder/Editor in Chief of the Palm Beach eMedia Group and Co-founder/Director of Marketing of the Theatre Orchestra of Florida.

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