by Tene Croom
It was truly a Mother’s Day to remember at the Benedum Center, because of the legendary Four Tops and Temptations performing there. They no doubt took the hundreds of people gathered inside the Benedum, back to the days, decades ago, when the Motown record label was known for a stunning roster of soul artists.
Motown, of course, boasted having not only the Temptations and Four Tops, but also the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, plus someone not very well known at the time called Little Stevie Wonder, among others.
|THE TEMPTATIONS—Original member Otis Williams, right front, with recent members of the Temptations.
Otis Williams, along with Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon and Bruce Williamson kept the crowd moving. Many times people jumped up out of their seats and sang along to popular Temptations songs like “Just My Imagination” and “My Girl.”
Williams, 70 years old, is the last original member of the Temptations. When asked how he felt about that, he said, “It is what it is. Life is full of changes. The one thing that’s constant in life is change. So, I’m just very blessed to carry on the banner that David, Eddie, Paul, Melvin, and even Al, Al Bryant we started back during the sixties and here I am carrying on what was started with those great guys. So, I’m just blessed. There’s nothing else I can say other than God left me here for a reason, as I’ve been told many times.”
Elbridge “Al” Bryant was with Otis, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, and Paul Williams, (who is no relation to Otis,) when they formed in 1960 a group in Detroit, called The Elgins, which they later renamed The Temptations. However, Bryant was fired from the group in 1963 and David Ruffin was brought in. That next year, the Temptations would record their first chart topping song, “The Way You Do the Things You Do.”
On stage, Williams gave a shout out to the Holiday House, a place now long out of business. In the exclusive interview, he reminisced about the popular Monroeville nightclub that opened in 1955 and closed in 1988 after financial trouble.
“We had some wonderful times there. We did two shows a night there in most cases,” Williams said. “After we finished performing, there was like a club and a disco there, so we would go there and hang out. The people were just wonderful. We would party almost until the next day of show time. We’re talking about 20 years ago. We loved the Holiday House. Then there was another place not too far from Pittsburgh called the Twin Coaches that we used to perform at. So, we have wonderful memories.”
Williams said the Temptations have been coming back for so many years to perform in Pittsburgh because of one thing.
“The people are fantastic. They are loyal to us. A city is a city. A town is a town. But, it’s the people that make up that city that make you say man I like going there cause the people are so fantastic. What I have to say about Pittsburgh fans is I’ve been in love with them back when we first started coming here trying to make our niche,” he said.
Could we see a new CD soon from the Temptations that would be a collaboration between them and some hot singer?
“That’s a possibility. We don’t turn down nothing but our collar. It just depends on what it is. Nothing comes to mind right now.” Williams replied.
However, if all goes as planned, you will see the Temptations story on the Great White Way. Williams revealed a Broadway show is being developed. He explained their story is second in line to his former boss’.
“It looks like it’s going to be on the horizon that the Temptations life story is going to Broadway. That’s another 18 months or so as soon (as) Mr. Gordy’s (Motown founder Berry Gordy) story debuts on Broadway,” he said.
Williams says the basis for the Broadway show will be the same as the popular Temptations television miniseries, which was based on his book entitled “Temptations.”
He has been performing for an incredible 50 years. What does he want his legacy to be? Williams’ answer to the question was simply put.
“That’s entertainment. There used to be a show back during the ‘70’s that I enjoyed watching and it was called ‘That’s Entertainment.’ I would like for our fans to say now the Temptations, now that’s entertainment. Those guys really performed. They could sing all good. They dressed nice and they had the whole embodiment of entertainment. I would like them to remember us not only for the music we’re known for. I want people that’s been out to see us to leave and say they got their money’s worth. Those guys don’t come out with their pants cross their booty, be grabbing their crotch. We like to be thought of that they can bring a three year old and they can be inspired by what we do,” he said.
The Four Tops and the Temptations were presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
(Tene’ Croom is president of Tene’ Croom Communications. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.tenecroom.com.)