Otis Williams: The â€˜Never Ending Storyâ€™ of the Temptations
How many people can say that they are a living legend and continue to add to their legacy with each passing year? Otis Williams, the founder and manager of the Temptations, can brag of such a feat.
"Berry Gordy saw the group at a record hop in Detroit and asked us to come join his record label and we did in 1961. Berry was a noted songwriter around Detroit who simply got tired of being gypped out of his royalties and decided to start Motown," explained Williams. "Prior to our going to Motown we were known as Otis Williams and The Distants. We had a popular recording out called â€˜Come On. Before that, we were the Siberians. When we came over to Motown we became the Temptations. We were Motownâ€™s first all male group."
The current lineup consists of Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, G.C. Cameron and Joe Herndon. There was a period when the Temptations had a great run of hits. "Yes, the Temptations had a lot of hits but one of the better periods was when Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin were members. David joined the group in 1964. That was when the Temptations were the most memorable and unique," says Otis. Smokey Robinson wrote several of the Temptation hits. He wrote: "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "My Girl," "Get Ready," "Since I Lost My Baby," and "I Wish It Would Rain," etc. He was an artist, song-writer and producer. Producer Norman Whitfield also wrote several songs for the group including "Cloud Nine"; "I Canâ€™t Get Next To You"; "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Runaway Child."
Otis was born in Texas but grew up in Detroit. "When I moved to Detroit, I became impressed with performers such as Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers; the Cadillacs; Ruth Brown; and the heavy hitters that were around during the infancy days of Rock â€˜n Roll. In 1956, as a teenager, I was inspired by these groups and decided that was what I wanted to do, too," reflected the singer. Otis formed several groups until he found the right combination. "The Temptations look for a song that best suits us. A song that is produced well and one we feel we can do well. We have a CD out now called â€˜Legacy.â€™ Legacy was released in June, 2004. Most of the songs on it are originals. Itâ€™s our last recording for Motown so it will become a collectorâ€™s item. There was a brief time we left Motown and went to Atlantic Records in the late 1970s now, once again, we are moving away from Motown," stated the renowned performer. "Since Berry Gordy left in 1988, Motown hasnâ€™t been the same. Now you got accountants, corporate folks and lawyers. Much of what you see in the business today is what I would call "bottom line pencil pushers."
The Temptations have had many glorious moments, such moments as their induction into the "Rock â€˜nâ€™ Roll Hall of Fame;" acquiring a star on the â€˜Hollywood Walk of Fameâ€™; receiving 4 Grammies; breaking all records at the Apollo Theatre and the Copacabana; having been part of the Motown 25 TV Show and the Temptation mini-series. Also, Williams co-authored his book entitled "Temptations." The Temptations recently appeared at Radio City Music Hall demonstrating their trade mark style of dress and fluidity of motion.
Otis spoke of the downward spiral of society these days. "We have become a very decadent society. There is a decline in morals and it seems its all about the mighty dollar. There is nothing left to the imagination. At least music is one thing that still allows folks to have common ground. No matter where the Temptations go, even in the most remote parts of the world, people know about the music of Motown. Under Clinton we were flourishing but since Bush came into office the economy changed dramatically. I am voting. Everybody needs to vote to avoid another four years of Bush. Bush has definitely killed Americaâ€™s credibility in a whole lot of ways."
The Temptations have assured their place in history and Otis Williams is truly the last of his kind as well as a legend in his own time. The Temptations have given a grateful world a fabulous legacy that will go on for years to come.
Interested parties can visit Williamâ€™s website which can be accessed on www.otiswilliams.net. Otis plans to add his clothing line, life story and his oil paintings and sketches in future.