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.
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 are currently the subject of the smash hit Broadway musical, Ain’t Too Proud, which opened on March 21, 2019. The musical won the Tony Award for Best Choreography at the 73rd Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on June 10, 2019 and continues to captivate thousands of theater-goers during sold-out performances on the Great White Way. In June of 2019, the show’s producers announced tour plans for the musical, starting July 2020 in more than 50 cities for 100+ weeks.
Prior to the musical, the Temptations’ journey, as seen through the lens of Otis Williams, the sole surviving original Temptation, was also a blockbuster television mini-series, which aired in 1998. The miniseries, which was produced by long-time Temptations manager Shelly Berger, Otis Williams and Suzanne de Passe, head of de Passe Entertainment, was reportedly viewed by 45 million fans and went on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Direction for a Miniseries or Movie, as well as the 1999 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Television Movie or Mini-series. The miniseries continues to air on cable networks today.
In 2018, Universal Music Enterprises released worldwide the Temptations’ latest studio album, All The Time, their first new album in eight years. It was released in CD, vinyl LP, limited edition white vinyl LP and digital formats. It features three new, original Temptations songs, in addition to inspired renditions of songs from Maxwell, The Weeknd, Sam Smith, Bruno Mars and others.
At the time of the album’s release, Otis Williams, founding member of the Temptations, said, “…Looking back, I never could have imagined where my life has taken me. I’m proud of what the Temptations have achieved and I’m grateful for every opportunity we’ve been so fortunate to receive. The music carries me. Together, we lift our voices with love and wonder…”
The group’s 60-year history spans both the 20th and 21st centuries and their music transcends generations. 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 '60s, leading the way, not only for themselves, but for other R&B artists, 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. It was on March 6, 1965 that their first million copy bestselling single, “My Girl,” hit #1 on Billboard’s Pop chart.
The Temptations, throughout the group’s evolution, have produced 53 Billboard Hot 100 Hit singles, including four that became #1 Pop singles: “My Girl,” “I Can’t Get Next To You,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” Additionally, they released 43 Top 10 R&B hit singles, 14 of which were #1 R&B hits, including timeless classics such as “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” and songs influenced by their funk/psychedelic soul sound, including “Happy People” and “Shakey Ground.” 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, including being honored with the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2013. The Temptations received their first, as well as Motown’s first, Grammy Award in 1969 for the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group, Vocal or Instrumental for their song “Cloud Nine.” They won their next Grammy Award in 1973 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 Group, awarded to the Temptations; Best R&B Instrumental, awarded to Norman Whitfield and arranger/conductor Paul Riser; and Best R&B Song, awarded to Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong as song composers. They also won a Grammy in 2001 for their Top 20 R&B album Ear-Resistible for the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance. In 1998, “My Girl” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” was inducted a year later.
In 1974, the group was also the very first to be awarded Favorite R&B Vocal Group at the inaugural American Music Awards. In 1975, the Temptations recorded their album, A Song For You, which won the 1976 American Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album. The album includes two wildly popular and bestselling #1 R&B songs, “Happy People,” (co-written by Lionel Richie) featuring the Commodores as instrumentalists, and “Shakey Ground,” featuring instrumentals by Parliament-Funkadelic’s Eddie Hazel with Billy “Bass” Nelson. In 1998, the Temptations released the album Phoenix Rising, featuring the debut of Terry Weeks, a lead vocalist for the group then and now, and it won the Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B Album by a Duo or Group. The single “Stay” from that album became a Top 30 R&B single.
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 lead 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 1988, Otis Williams’ critically-acclaimed autobiography, Temptations, written with The New York Times' bestselling author Patricia Romanowski, was published nationally. The book went on to become the source for both the Emmy Award-winning television miniseries in 1998 and the smash hit Broadway musical, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations, with Tony Award-Winning choreography and Grammy-winning music.
The Temptations were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. 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.
The Temptations were given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California on September 14, 1994 and a star on the Apollo Theater’s Walk of Fame in Harlem, New York City on June 7, 2019. At the official ceremony, Otis Williams received a plaque marking the occasion on behalf of the legendary classic five line-up, including himself, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, and David Ruffin. Otis Williams was also honored at the Apollo Theater’s 85th Anniversary Gala on June 10, 2019.
In 2003, and again in 2012, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the group’s album Anthology, originally released in 1973, as one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
In 2006, Otis Williams received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
In 2018, the Library of Congress announced the induction of the Temptations’ classic megahit, “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 popular music.
Also in November 2019, the original cast album for the smash hit Broadway musical “Ain’t Too Proud” was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Musical Theater Album category. The Grammy Awards ceremony was held in January of 2020.
In addition, for the 2019 holiday season, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), the Temptations’ current recording company, announced the release of a first-of-its-kind animated video featuring the Temptations’ “Silent Night,” one of the most popular holiday songs of all time.
The Temptations, iconic superstars, will mark their 60th Anniversary in 2020 with an international concert tour which will include shows in Britain in late October 2020.
Looking ahead to Christmas 2021, the Broadway musical, Ain’t Too Proud, will go back to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where it ran in previews.
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, and Willie Greene, Jr., base vocalist with the group for four years, are still serenading fans with their soulful voices, lighting up stages with their famous Temptations walk, and bringing joy to audiences of all ages.