The Temptations were the quintessential Motown vocal group. The quintet offered a rich blend of voices accompanied by stylish, coordinated dance moves. With songs and production from some of Motown’s brightest lights - most notably Smokey Robinson ("My Girl") and Norman Whitfield ("Ain’t Too Proud to Beg") - the Temptations lived up to their billing as emperors of soul. During the gilded age of soul music in general and Motown in particular, the Temptations delivered the intricate harmonies of streetcorner serenaders and the polished choreography of a Sixties soul revue. Moreover, their story is a long, episodic one of perseverance and dedication that extends from their origins in 1961 to the present day.

The Temptations were initially formed from two Detroit-based vocal harmony groups: the Primes (a trio of relocated Alabamans that included Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams) and the Distants (a quintet whose members included Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin and Elbridge Bryant). When the latter group lost its other members, Kendricks and Williams were invited to join the Distants, and the reconstituted quintet auditioned for Berry Gordy. Not only were they signed to Motown, but after a couple of singles on its Miracle affiliate, a new label imprint (Gordy) was created with them in mind. Still, the Temptations had trouble establishing themselves in the beginning, and by the end of 1963 - much like the early story of the Supremes - they had only a string of non-charting singles to their credit. Then singer David Ruffin entered the picture. Replacing Elbridge Bryant, Ruffin brought a raspy, gospel-style tenor and fervent showmanship to the Temptations, serving as a perfect complement to the group’s vocal blend, which included Kendricks’ high tenor, Otis Williams’ middle tenor, Paul Williams’ baritone and Melvin Franklin’s deep bass voice. They liked to refer to themselves as “five lead vocalists.”

This was the Temptations’ classic lineup, lasting from 1964 to 1968. Their career upturn began with the Top Twenty success of the Smokey Robinson-penned “The Way You Do the Things You Do” in early ‘64. Both Robinson and Whitfield vied to supply the group with hit material. Backed by Motown’s peerless studio band, a veritable in-house orchestra dubbed the Funk Brothers, the Temptations ruled the Top Forty at mid-decade with such milestones of Motown soul as “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Beauty’s Only Skin Deep,” “(I Know) I’m Losing You,” and “I Wish It Would Rain.” When Ruffin left to go solo in 1968, one chapter in the Temptations saga ended and another equally successful one began. His replacement, Dennis Edwards, formerly of the Contours, could later look back on his lengthy tenure with the Temptations - which lasted through various comings and goings for 20 years - and note that he sang lead on more hits than Ruffin and Kendricks combined.

Edwards’ arrival coincided with the onset of the Temptations’ “psychedelic” period, a turn toward more contemporary sounds and incisive subject matter inspired by the likes of Sly and the Family Stone. This inaugurated the most successful run of singles in the Temptations’ long career. During the years 1968-72, the group - under the continuing direction of songwriter/producer Norman Whitfield - turned out a dizzying array of timely, funky relevant hits, including “Cloud Nine,” “Runaway Child, Running Wild,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Psychedelic Shack,” “Ball of Confusion” and their masterpiece of social realism and ensemble vocals, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Amid this onslaught of psychedelic soul, the Temptations also cut “Just My Imagination,” a velvety, Kendrick-sung ballad that harked back to the days of “My Girl” and returned them to the top of the charts in 1971. Kendrick left shortly thereafter to embark on a solo career, striking paydirt on his own with “Boogie People” and “Keep On Truckin’.” One new member who came on-board in 1971 was Richard Street, who had belonged to the Distants.

During the Seventies, in the spirit of that album-oriented era, the Temptations recorded some of their strongest and most cohesive long players, including Masterpiece (1973), A Song for You (1975) and The Temptations Do the Temptations (1976). In 1982, Ruffin and Kendrick rejoined the Temptations for the Reunion album and a wildly successful reunion tour. In May 1983, the Temptations’ vocal duel with the Four Tops served as a highlight of Motown’s 25th anniversary TV special.

Over the years, the Temptations suffered a series of tragic losses: the suicide of Paul Williams in 1971; the death of David Ruffin, after years of substance abuse, in 1991; Eddie Kendricks’ succumbing to lung cancer in 1992; and the loss of Melvin Franklin from complications following a brain seizure in 1995. However, the Temptations have proven durable despite the setbacks. With a lineup that includes founding member Otis Williams, the group has remained active, perpetuating what they’ve long referred to as “the tradition.”

July 2, 1939: Paul Williams was born.

December 17, 1939: Eddie Kendrick of the Temptations is born.

January 18, 1941: David Ruffin was born.

October 30, 1941: Otis Williams was born.

October 12, 1942: Melvin Franklin was born.

February 3, 1943: Dennis Edwards was born.

April 11, 1964: The Temptations hits #11 with “The Way You Do the Things You Do.”

March 6, 1965: The Temptations hit #1 with “My Girl”.

October 1, 1966: The Temptations hit #3 with “Beauty’s Only Skin Deep”.

February 1, 1969: The Temptations win Motown its first Grammy for “Cloud Nine.”

October 18, 1969: The Temptations hit #1 with “I Can’t Get Next To You”.

March 28, 1971: Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (The Temptations) was a hit.

November 26, 1972: Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone (The Temptations) was a hit.

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What a great thing this is...Look at O on the bottom pic! They having some fun!!!
I wonder what Paul was singing....LOL
Whatever it was Melvin was right with him...lol
Eddie checking to make sure David ain't messing up.....LOL
Brother Michael, you would love my video i did of my Uncle Ricky D.....LOL
Just the best male vocal group EVER!

Beautiful pic of them!
The classic line-up...
These brothers were awesomely gifted and blessed! They originated a style and tradition that will go on for quite some time.


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Spotlight | Maze

  1. play Maze — 03 Feel That You're Feelin'
  2. play Maze — 04 Somebody Else's Arms
  3. play Maze — 04 Southern Girl
  4. play Maze — Can't Get Over You
  5. play Maze — Golden Time Of Day
  6. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  7. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  8. play Norman Brown — Still
  9. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  10. play miles 2
  11. play miles 3
  12. play miles 4
  13. play miles 5
  14. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  15. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  16. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  17. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue

The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me"). 

As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even 
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.


The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created. 

The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon). 

If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) yahoo.com and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available. 

Enjoy.  "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967) 
 "I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
 "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
 "If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)

Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.

Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay." 
 While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).

The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Power...Through Simplicity ♪♫♪



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