THE Temptations without David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams! Strange, but true — that is the sad situation as of today. There was enough talk flying around when David was replaced within the group; Eddie's departure caused further speculation; now, it is confirmed that Paul Williams is no longer a Temptation having just come back from a lengthy spell of absence from the group, during which time Richard Street substituted. Whilst Paul was away, Eddie suddenly wasn't there and when Paul was due to return, he simply didn't.
So, what is the problem with the Temptations, undoubtedly the world's top vocal group until a short time ago?
"I think it's a simple case of jealousy," David Ruffin told me, having just come into his house from 'mending' his 'Easy Rider' style Chopper-motorcycle. "But, as long as Melvin and Otis are there, there will always be a Temptations. But there's even more to it — Norman Whitfield, who has probably done more for the Temptations than any other one person, is now taking more interest in his own group, Undisputed Truth. I think he may be upset that Paul, Eddie and myself are no longer there — Norman lives right next door to Eddie, you know, just down the road from me."
David Ruffin's solo career has always been a mystery to me. Motown do not possess a man with a more expressive voice than David — for proof, listen to "My Whole World Ended", his first and by far most successful solo single.
"I don't think the company has a down on Jimmy and me," said David, in defence of Motown. "But you can't talk to them any more, Berry's 3,000 miles away now. After, "My Whole World Ended" (a million seller!), the company chose the follow-up as "I'm So Glad I Fell For You". I was upset and I said that they were sending me back to church! Things are a little better now, though, and I'm just working on a new album with Smokey Robinson that I am really happy with. My new single, "You Can Come Right Back To Me", comes from that session and I like it. I've still got a few months left on my contract and I'll sit still till then, at least."
A few months ago, David recorded an album with his older brother, Jimmy, and, although not promoted to its fullest in either Britain or the States, the album sold well enough. But it was the idea of the Ruffins rather than the company. Incidentally, David was horrified to learn that "Stand By Me" remained unissued in Britain!
But the mystery concerning the Temps remains. Paul's place has certainly gone to Richard Street, formerly of the Monitors. Eddie's replacement now looks set to go to Otis Daymon, a young man from Baltimore, who sang previously with the Vandals (who might well be the same group who recorded for the Isleys' T. Neck label). "But they're just cheating the public now," David believes. "People still expect Eddie, Paul and me when they see the Temptations. They are the voices they know although, in all honesty, Dennis Edwards can be considered a true Temptation."
In the not-too-distant future, though, there is a distinct possibility that a new group will be formed — if only for recording purposes! The group could consist of David and Jimmy, Eddie, Paul and Dennis. Can you imagine that quintet on record together?
Purely a personal opinion, but the trouble does seem to lie with Melvin and Otis, who, in all honesty, are the least important to the public's eye. If Norman Whitfield's top songs do go to the Undisputed Truth before the Temps, anything can happen. But, let's hope that the Motown superstars do get together on record, it could develop into Motown's best yet — and that would take some beating.