David Ruffin: Temptations 1964-1968

David Ruffin singing the lead on My Girl the first No.1 song for the Temptations which was written by Smokey Robinson but was recorded by the Temptations instead of his own group Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

David Ruffin singing  Walk Away From Love on American Bandstand after he had left the Temptations and was singing as a solo artist.

David Ruffin who is most famous for his rendition of My Girl while with the Temptations.

Ruffin was born on January 18, 1941 in Whynot, Mississippi and was a solo artist before joining the Temptations in 1964.

He was part of a family gospel group while growing up that opened for the one of the most well known gospel singers of that time Mahalia Jackson.

His meeting Gwen Fuqua who was the sister of music mogul Berry Gordy and he worked with Berry Gordy’s father in actually constructing the building that would be known as Motown.

On January 9, 1964 Ruffin recorded for the first time with the Temptations after they needed a tenor when founding member Elbridge “Al” Bryant was fired from the group.

He was a background singer for the group until Smokey Robinson wrote My Girl especially for Ruffin and after his success with that song he alternated with Eddie Hendricks singing lead vocals.

Ruffin invented the four headed microphone used by the Temptations which picked up the voices of the four Temptations who weren’t singing lead.

Then he would distance himself from the other Temptations when he and his girlfriend  would travel in a customized limousine. He also wanted to change the name of the group to David Ruffin and the Temptations which didn’t go over well with Otis Williams who was the one who put the group together in its most well known configuration of Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Otis Williams and the other lead singer Eddie Hendricks.

It was also during this period that he became addicted to cocaine.

The end for Ruffin came when he missed a show to see his new girlfriend sing. After being fired he would get up on the stage and sing some of the songs he had made famous which wasn’t well received by the Temptations on the stage.

Ruffin would go on to have a decent career as a solo artist but it paled in significance to his days with the Temptations.

He was found dead in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania crackhouse on June 1, 1991 due to an overdose. It has been claimed that a money belt with $40,000 was stolen from Ruffin after his death.

Ruffin had a tumultuous life that had seen him go from the heights of fame to a crackhouse in Philadelphia where his life ended.

Still we can enjoy his music both with the Temptations and as a solo artists today as his memory lives on.

Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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