The group that would become The Temptations was formed in Detroit in 1960 by members of two different groups merging together. Paul and best friend Eddie Kendricks joined Otis Williams (no relation) and Melvin Franklin and Eldridge Bryant to become The Elgins. They recorded around Detroit with some limited local success. Then in 1961 they were offered a contract with Motown but had to change their group name. They chose The Temptations.
They recorded for several years with limited success. However, they quickly acquired a reputation for having wonderful live moves. Most of these were made up by Williams, who fancied himself a amateur choreographer. All of the earliest moves ie for the earliest hits were created by Paul Williams. At about this time David Ruffin replaced Bryant as lead singer.
|front: Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin |
Franklin; back: Otis Williams, David Ruffin
The Temptations at this time later were known as "the Classic Five" version of the group. It is considered to include both David Ruffin and his replacement when he was fired from the group, Dennis Edwards. These six members were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
At about the time the group was enjoying its biggest long-term success, his role as group choreographer was taken away from him. Perhaps due to this and to the stress of his career, Paul Williams began to spiral into a severe case of depression and alcoholism. His health declined, and in 1971 he ended up leaving the group. The way that he had been treated by the group did not sit well with Eddie Kendricks, so he, too, quit. Their last song with the Temptations was the mega-hit, "Just My Imagination."
Willaims' health did not improve, and on August 17, 1973 he was found dead, in an alley, beside his car. The circumstances surrounding his death were questionable, but the coroner ruled it was a suicide.
Paul Williams' beautiful voice lives on in the Temptations recordings, and his graceful choreography lives on in wonderful DVD and youtube presentations.
Happy Birthday, Paul Williams!
We miss you!
"Don't Look Back"
lead vocal by Paul Williams
I don't know what this clip is from....and it looks/sounds like it was lip-synched, BUT....
it's *still* wonderful!! ;-)