Dennis Edwards, the lead vocalist for “The Temptations” on some of the group’s hits such as “Just My Imagination,” died in Chicago on Friday, February 2 of unknown causes. He was 74.
Edwards was born February 3, 1943, in Fairfield, Alabama. In 1989, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Temptations.
Edwards was 74-years-old at the time of his death.
In 1968, Edwards stepped in to replace founding lead singer David Ruffin in “the Temps.” While Ruffin had specialized largely in smoother romantic balladry, the gospel-trained Edwards sported a grittier style, and he left a distinctive mark on the unit’s work as both lead vocalist and in the ensemble harmonies.
His arrival in the Temptations coincided with the increasingly expansive and experimental “psychedelic soul” productions helmed by Norman Whitfield, who also co-wrote many of their biggest chart hits, many of which featured pointed social or political content.
With Edwards, the retooled quintet struck gold with 1968’s “Cloud Nine” (No. 6 pop, No. 2 R&B). That stylistic breakthrough was followed by such other dynamic Whitfield-produced numbers as 1969’s “Runaway Child, Running Wild” (No. 6 pop, No. 1 R&B) and “I Can’t Get Next to You” (No. 1 pop and R&B), 1970’s “Psychedelic Shack” (No. 7 pop, No. 2 R&B) and “Ball of Confusion” (No. 3 pop, No. 2 R&B), 1971’s “Just My Imagination” (No. 1 pop and R&B) and 1972’s “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.”
The Temptations are an American vocal group who released a series of successful singles and albums with Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s; their work with producer Norman Whitfield, which started with the Top 10 hit single “Cloud Nine” in October 1968, pioneered psychedelic soul, and was significant in the evolution of R&B and soul music.
The band members are known for their choreography, distinct harmonies, and flashy wardrobe. Having sold tens of millions of albums, the Temptations are one of the most successful groups in music history.
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