*When the iconic soul of The Temptations hit the stage this past Saturday at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center, any doubts the fellas may have entertained about their relevancy in today’s music landscape should have been erased.
Not only did they, after 53 years, manage to fill each of the 1,150 seats in the newly built state-of-the-art auditorium with fans young and old, and of every nationality in the cultural spectrum, they actually got people out of those seats to dance in the aisles to the hits that have made them one of the most revered soul groups in the last half of the century.
As they entered the stage one at a time while being introduced, the men wore gold lame jackets and black tuxedo pants, and you know what?
It didn’t take long for us to remember that we miss them.
We miss real music. We miss showmanship. We miss gentlemen with style. We miss the synchronization of Doo-wop, and the smooth dance moves that accompany the sound.
Hell, we miss good music!
Otis Williams is the only remaining member of the group’s classic lineup, which also featured Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin. Paul Williams was the first member to pass away. He died from an apparent suicide in 1973 at the age of 34. David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks both died in 1991, and Melvin Franklin in 1995.
Today’s spirited lineup features Williams, along with Ron Tyson – who has been with the group for the past 30 years; Terry Weeks – who permanently replaced Ali Ollie Woodson in 1997, Joe Herndon (baritone) came along in 2004 and lead vocalist, Bruce Williamson, who came into the group in 2006.
To say these cats still hit their mark both individually and as a unit would be an understatement. Yet, each time one of them took the lead in a classic, those of us old enough to recall, couldn’t help but think of its original singer.
It was great watching people jump up and dance in the aisles to all our favorites including “Get Ready,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” “Ball Of Confusion,” “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” – which had been done with The Supremes – “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” and the 1984 hit, “Treat Her Like A Lady” – one of the group’s biggest selling hits co-written by Otis Williams and former Temptations lead singer, Ali Ollie Woodson. On this night, Williams, who said everyone always asks “What Do You Sound Like” debuted his solo singing skills as lead on the song.
Woodson left the group in 1987, returned in 1988, and left for good in 1996 due to throat cancer. He died from the disease in 2010 at the age of 58.
“Our challenge,” says Williams, “is to live in the present while respecting the past. Our past is filled with riches only a fool would discard. At the same time, we thrive on competition. As a Motowner, I grew up in the most competitive musical atmosphere imaginable. But we also understand that for a group with history, no matter how glorious that history might be, reinvention is the name of the game.”
Ron Tyson, who may be one of the best high tenors in the business, says, “The more we change the more we stay true to ourselves. We’re about singing straight-up soul. It’s a style that will live on forever.”
At the June 7th one-night-only concert in Arcadia, the audience got much more than music. They got to witness the personalities of the group members, too. For instance, the sexy baritone of Joe Herndon was utilized as he took over the mic and goofed around with the fellas during Otis Williams’ introduction of him. And the groups’ newest member, Bruce Williamson, is a real hoot, as well. He started singing in a church choir at the ripe age of 5 years old and hasn’t stop since.
It was Ron Tyson who introduced Bruce to Otis.
Word is, when Tyson first told Williamson -who had dreams of singing with the Temptations for a long time – that he had actually made it into the group, Bruce did not believe him. It wasn’t until Otis Williams himself called him, that he was convinced it was true.
Terry Weeks, known for his “Baby face,” is easily the recognized energetic one in the group. He’d spent eight years in the Air Force before his makeshift audition for Otis on a Hollywood street corner.
On the night of this concert, it seemed that for every dance move the guys made, Weeks’ made four. His incredible energy and the stamina of the group over the hour-and-a-half straight performance, did not go unnoticed.
“The Temps have always been known for great lead singers,” says Otis Williams. “Today we have three of the greatest leads in the proud history of the group.”
And that’s no exaggeration.
Read the EURweb exclusive interview with Otis Williams here.
About The Arcadia Performing Arts Center
The Arcadia Performing Arts Center is located at 188 Campus Dr. Arcadia, CA 91007, The facility anchors the northwest corner of the campus of Arcadia High School. It was completed on October 18, 2012. It is a major center for arts and culture in the Arcadia community. The 40,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility includes a main performance hall with seating for 1,150, a stage that holds 200 musicians, tunable acoustics and professional lighting and sound. In addition, the center boasts an orchestra room with practice rooms and music library, a dance studio with sprung wood floors, a professional stagecraft workshop and a Black Box theater with separate control room and flexible seating that can host 125 guests.
Visit them at Arcadia Performing Arts Center.
DeBorah B. Pryor is a Los Angeles-based writer credited with more than 4oo published works. An entrepreneur, she provides people with access to quality legal services as a LegalShield Associate, and she is the author of Public Speaking for the Private Person – a CD that reveals effective communication strategies to professionals in all areas of work. Reach out to her at [email protected]