The Temptations, often referred to as “American Music Royalty,” are world-renowned superstars of entertainment, revered for their phenomenal catalog of music and prolific career. The group will be celebrating their 60th Anniversary in 2021. To mark this milestone, the Temptations are planning a brand-new album, a national concert tour across the country, and an international concert tour in the UK in fall 2021.
Named the “#1 R&B/Hip Hop Artists of All Time” and one of the “125 Greatest of All Time Artists” by Billboard magazine, as well as one of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” by Rolling Stone Magazine, the group is truly a beloved national treasure.
The Temptations’ heritage, influence and contributions to, not only American culture and African American communities but also to the global music landscape are monumental. The influence that the Temptations have had on mainstream and global artists is undeniable.
The group’s popularity is ever-increasing and they are one of the most iconic, bestselling brands in the entertainment world today. While the group has evolved over the years, Dr. Otis Williams has continued to lead the group and carry the torch forward for the next generation of Temptations’ fans.
The group’s 60-year history spans both the 20th and 21st centuries and their music transcends generations. The Temptations’ story is a road map through American history. What began in Detroit, when a remarkable combination of soulful voices united, was the genesis of an epic journey that introduced multiple superstars to the world and produced some of the greatest music of our era.
Considered trailblazers in the 60’s, leading the way, not only for themselves, but for other R&B artists and successfully reaching mainstream audiences here and abroad, the Temptations’ rise to fame was meteoric. When the legendary “Classic Five,” (Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and David Ruffin) released the single, “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” in 1964, which peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Chart and remained on the list for 11 weeks, it marked the beginning of a multitude of award-winning and chart-topping songs and albums that would be embraced by popular music audiences globally.
They were among the first African American musical artists to crossover into mainstream America and appear on popular, national mainstream television programs, such as The Ed Sullivan Show, and The Hollywood Palace. At the time, this was an unparalleled accomplishment for African American entertainers.
The Temptations, throughout the group’s evolution, have produced 53 Billboard Hot 100 Hit singles, including four that became #1 Pop singles. Additionally, they released 43 Top 10 R&B hit singles, 14 of which were #1 R&B hits. The group also has 16 #1 R&B Albums.
The Temptations are the recipients of numerous awards and honors. They have won four Grammy Awards (and have received nine Grammy nominations), in addition to being awarded the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards (2013). The Temptations received their first, as well as Motown’s first, Grammy Award at the 11th Annual Grammy Awards (1968) for the “Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group, Vocal or Instrumental,” for their song, “Cloud Nine.” They won their next two Grammy Awards at the 15th Annual Grammy Awards (1972) for the #1 Billboard Hot 100 Hit, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” which won a total of three Grammy Awards that year: “Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus,” awarded to the Temptations; “Best R&B Instrumental Performance,” awarded to the Temptations and Paul Riser, and “Best Rhythm Blues Song,” awarded to Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield as songwriters. The group won their fourth Grammy Award at the 43rd annual Grammy Awards (2000) for their “Top 20” R&B Album, Ear-Resistible for the “Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.” “My Girl” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998, and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” was inducted a year later in 1999.
In 1983, Ron Tyson, one of the group’s current lead vocalists, joined the Temptations. In May of 1983, the televised anniversary special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, aired on NBC-TV and the extraordinary battle between the Temptations and the Four Tops led to a road tour of the two groups, famously called the “T’NT” tour. The two legendary groups still perform together today while on their respective concert tours.
In 1989, The Temptations were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Blockbuster #1 hits “Just My Imagination,” “Papa was a Rollin’ Stone,” and “My Girl” are among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.” The group was also inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999, and into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2013. They were invited back to the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2017 to receive “The R&B Male Group of the 20th Century” Award. They received the NAACP Image Award “Hall of Fame Award” in 1992.
In 2018, the Library of Congress announced the induction of the Temptations’ classic mega-hit, “My Girl” into the National Recording Registry.
In November of 2019, the Temptations appeared on Billboard’s 125th Anniversary list of the “125 Greatest of All Time Artists,” in music.
Dr. Otis Williams, the sole surviving original Temptation, Ron Tyson, a lead vocalist with the group for 37 years, Terry Weeks, a lead vocalist for 23 years, Willie Greene, Jr., bass vocalist with the group for four years, and Mario Corbino, who joined the group this year, always look forward to serenading fans with their soulful voices, lighting up stages with their famous Temptations’ Walk, and bringing joy to audiences of all ages.
The quartet, originally called the Four Aims, made their first single for Chess in 1956, and spent seven years on the road and in nightclubs, singing pop, blues, Broadway, but mostly jazz—four-part harmony jazz. When Motown's Berry Gordy Jr. found out they had hustled a national "Tonight Show" appearance, he signed them without an audition to be the marquee act for the company's Workshop Jazz label. That proved short-lived, and Stubbs' powerhouse baritone lead and the exquisite harmonies of Fakir, Benson, and Payton started making one smash after another with the writing-producing trio Holland-Dozier-Holland.
Their first Motown hit, "Baby I Need Your Loving" in 1964, made them stars and their sixties track record on the label is indispensable to any retrospective of the decade. Their songs, soulful and bittersweet, were across-the-board successes. "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," a no. 1 R&B and Pop smash in 1965, is one of Motown's longest-running chart toppers; it was quickly followed by a longtime favorite, "It's The Same Old Song" (no. 2 R&B/no. 5 pop). Their commercial peak was highlighted by a romantic trilogy: the no. 1 "Reach Out I'll Be There," "Standing In The Shadows Of Love" (no. 2 R&B/no. 6 pop) and "Bernadette" (no. 3 R&B/no. 4 pop)—an extraordinary run of instant H-D-H classics. Other Tops hits from the decade included "Ask The Lonely," "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)," "Something About You," "You Keep Running Away," "7-Rooms Of Gloom" and their covers of "Walk Away Renee" and "If I Were A Carpenter." The group was also extraordinarily popular in the U.K.
After H-D-H split from Motown, producer Frank Wilson supervised the R&B Top 10 hits "It's All in The Game" and "Still Water (Love)" at the start of the seventies. The Tops also teamed with Motown's top girl group, the Supremes, post-Diana Ross. Billing themselves The Magnificent Seven for a series of albums, they hit with a cover of "River Deep - Mountain High."
When Motown left Detroit in 1972 to move to Los Angeles, the steadfast Tops decided to stay at home, and with another label. They kept up a string of hits with ABC-Dunhill for the next few years: "Ain't No Woman (Like The One I've Got)," a Top 5 hit; the Top 10 "Keeper Of The Castle"; and the R&B Top 10's "Are You Man Enough (from the movie Shaft In Africa)," "Sweet Understanding Love," "One Chain Don't Make No Prison" (later covered by Santana), "Midnight Flower" and the disco perennial "Catfish."
In 1980 the group moved to Casablanca Records. The following year they were at no. 1 again, with "When She Was My Girl," making them one of the few groups to have hits in three consecutive decades. They also scored R&B Top 40s with the ballads "Tonight I'm Gonna Love You All Over" and "I Believe In You And Me," the original version of the 1996 Whitney Houston smash. And the Tops were heard in the film Grease 2 with "Back To School Again." By 1983, riding the wave of the company's 25th anniversary celebration, the Tops were back with Motown and H-D-H. The reunion resulted in the R&B Top 40 hits "I Just Can't Walk Away" and "Sexy Ways."
They signed with Arista later in the decade, and there they racked up their final solo Top 40 hit, "Indestructible," which was the theme of the 1988 Summer Olympics. That year they also partnered with Aretha Franklin, a longtime friend from Detroit, for the Top 40 R&B "If Ever A Love There Was." During this period, Stubbs stepped out and gained notoriety for voicing the man-eating plant Audrey II in the film musical Little Shop Of Horrors, for which he sang the cult classic "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space."
In 1990, with 24 Top 40 pop hits to their credit, the Four Tops were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Though they would no longer have hits on record, the group continued to be a hit in concert, touring incessantly, a towering testament to the enduring legacy of the Motown Sound they helped shape and define. Following Payton's death in 1997, the group briefly worked as a trio until Theo Peoples, a former Temptation, was recruited to restore the group to a quartet. When Stubbs subsequently grew ill, Peoples became the lead singer and former Motown artist-producer Ronnie McNeir was enlisted to fill Payton's spot. In 2005, when Benson died, Payton's son Roquel replaced him.
For Rolling Stone's 2004 article "The Immortals – The Greatest Artists of All Time," Smokey Robinson remembered: "They were the best in my neighborhood in Detroit when I was growing up (and) the Four Tops will always be one of the biggest and the best groups ever. Their music is forever."