Though he is the last surviving original member of The Temptations, Big "O", at least to me, has always been somewhat in the background. That's why I'm delighted to feature him now, in the lead..and indeed, that's where he belongs.


Williams was born Otis Miles in Texarkana, Texas, the son of Hazel Louise (née Williams) and the elder Otis Miles. He was primarily raised by his grandmothers in the town of Texarkana, Texas. At age 10, his mother moved him to Detroit to live with her and his new stepfather Edgar, and he began using his mother's last name at this time.

Williams became interested in music as a teenager and put together a number of singing groups, among them Otis Williams and the Siberians, the El Domingoes, and the Distants. The Distants had a local hit, co-written by Williams and manager/producer Johnnie Mae Matthews, called "Come On," with lead vocals by Richard Street. Future Distants recordings were not as successful, and after an offer from Berry Gordy of Motown Records, Williams and his friends/bandmates Elbridge "Al" Bryant and Melvin Franklin quit The Distants. Williams, Bryant, and Franklin later joined Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams (no relation to Otis), formerly of the Primes, to create the Elgins, who signed to Motown in March 1961 as The Temptations.

The Temptations eventually became the most successful acts in black music over the course of its nearly five-decade existence, over which time notable singers such as David Ruffin, Dennis Edwards, former Distant Richard Street, Damon Harris, Ron Tyson, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Theo Peoples, Ray Davis and G.C. Cameron have all been members. In fact, the group's lineup changes were so frequent, stressful and troublesome that Williams and Melvin Franklin promised each other they would never quit the group. Franklin would remain in the group until in 1994, when he became physically incapable doing so. Franklin died on February 23, 1995, leaving Otis Williams (then 53) as the last surviving original member of the Temptations quintet.

Williams is the co-author, with Patricia Romanowski, of Temptations, a 1988 book that served as both his autobiography/memoirs and a history of the group. In 1998, Temptations was later adapted into a NBC television miniseries, The Temptations. Over the years fan opinion of Williams has been mixed, with some criticizing him for what they perceive as jealous insults against his former bandmates in his books while others defend him for simply trying to be honest about the problems that the group suffered.

Although he has served the longest tenure in the Temptations, Williams very rarely sings lead, focusing instead on his role as the group's leader and organizer, and as the background "tenor in the middle." The Smokey Robinson-penned "Don't Send Me Away" on The Temptations with a Lot o' Soul (1967) is a rare showcase for Williams singing lead.

Williams married the former Josephine Rogers in 1961; the couple's son, Otis Lamont Williams, was born the same year. Otis and Josephine Williams divorced in 1964, and Otis Williams went on to date Florence Ballard of The Supremes, and was for a time engaged to R&B singer Patti LaBelle.

Williams was married to Ann Cain from 1967 to 1973, and married his third and current wife, Goldie, in 1983. His son Lamont, a construction worker, died in a workplace accident in 1983.

In the late 50's, Otis would put many little groups together with members dropping in and out. In 1959, he befriended schoolmate Melvin Franklin after hearing his voice on a track by The Voicemasters, and invited him to join his group, The Distants.


By early 1961, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams, members of a rival group, The Primes, would join members of The Distants Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin and Elbridge Bryant to form the Elgins. After auditioning for Berry Gordy and signing a contract with Motown, the group became The Temptations.


In the early part of the 1960's, the group wouldn't have any major success, but they were a group Berry Gordy believed in, and they worked hard to perfect their singing and their act.


In 1964, things turned around for the group. Group member Elbridge Bryant became a problem, and was replaced by David Ruffin. The group had their first hit in "The Way You Do The Things You Do", followed by "My Girl", their first number one smash.


Over the next few years the group would enjoy success, but trouble would begin again when David Ruffin's blossoming ego compiled with a drug problem, would force the group to dismiss him, an act that would be a major event in 1968.


Despite the change in personnel, the group would have continuing success with the addition of Dennis Edwards to the group. The music would change too, when Norman Whitfield took over most of the writing and producing.


In the early seventies, things began to crumble. Otis and Melvin prayed together, and pondered what their success really meant. There was tension between the group and producer Norman Whitfield. Paul Williams health was failing and Eddie Kendricks wanted a solo career, and in 1971, both Paul and Eddie would leave the group. It was the end of an era, and the end of the Temptations of Hitsville, USA.


Since 1995, all of the original members have passed on, and only Otis Williams remains. Through numerous personnel changes, Otis has pressed on.


In 1988 he wrote his autobiography relating the story of how it all began. In 1998 the NBC made for TV mini-series was born from the book. The highly successful mini-series, besides bringing back a flood of memories, would result in the birth of a whole new generation of Temptation fans.


But Otis put it best when he once said, "The Temptations still stand today, not in spite of those who left us, but because of them."

...and I say, We love you Otis..and thank you.




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Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on February 6, 2008 at 8:22pm
He does have a angelic voice, but i keep going back to what Leon said in the movie...Ain't nobody coming to see you O....LMBO
Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on February 6, 2008 at 8:19pm
Who is the Guitarist with the crooked Bow Tie.....LOL Marv Tarplin?
Comment by Edie Antoinette on February 6, 2008 at 8:13pm
David Ruffin was a straight heathen...LOL
Comment by Edie Antoinette on February 6, 2008 at 7:43pm
I saw that with them cigarettes! smh is right! I studied the pic!!! I really like O's voice, but check him out when Melvin sings.."and have somebody love..." and he comes in...AWESOME...he has an angelic voice!

Thanks Sole!!!!!
Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on February 6, 2008 at 7:32pm
Look at Paul and Eddie with them Cigarettes...SMH and David is half a finger fold away from shooting a bird...BWAAA HAHAHA
Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on February 6, 2008 at 6:41pm
Ahhhh this is awesome..."" The Smokey Robinson-penned "Don't Send Me Away" on The Temptations with a Lot o' Soul (1967) is a rare showcase for Williams singing lead."...I have this Cassette...SMILE.

I love this song...Niceeeeeee

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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) 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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