Former led singer of The Temptations, Dennis Edwards passed away today. He was 74-years old. The Detroit native became the lead singer of The Temptations after the group’s fallout with former lead singer David Ruffin in 1968. Edwards died at his home in Chicago today, his family reports.
Edwards singing career began when he was signed to Motown in 1966. Edwards was put on the shelf by the label. He got his break when Motown assigned him to join the group ‘The Contours’ after the group’s lead singer fell ill. In 1967, The Contours were opening for bigger acts like The Temptations. Edwards caught the eye of Temptations members Otis Reading and Eddie Kendricks, who were looking to replace lead singer David Ruffin at the time. Edwards, who was a personal friend of Ruffin’s, was introduced to Kendricks and Reading. The three quickly became acquaintances. Edwards quit The Countours later on in 1967. He was once again shelved by the label. Edwards spent the rest of 67′ and half of ’68 attempting to try to get out of his contract with Motown. In June, the label assigned him to join up with The Temptations who had just fired their lead singer David Ruffin.
Ruffin, friend of Edwards’ let him know ahead of time that he was likely going to be assigned to replace him in The Temptations. This put Edwards mind at ease because of the friendship he’d built with the group’s members, and caused Edwards to stop seeking to get out of his Motown contract. Edwards was officially introduced as a member of The Temptations on July 9, 1968 at a show in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. However, Ruffin, who was attempting to get back into the group by this time, crashed the show during Edwards’ lead on the song “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.” Ruffin received great applause from the audience for his effort. This wasn’t just a one-time trick from Ruffin as he attempted to get back into the group. Over the next month, Ruffin crashed every one of the group’s shows and did the same thing. He received rousing applause every time. The people still loved David Ruffin. The group had no choice but to drop Edwards in place of Ruffin. Edwards was promised a solo deal from Motown for his efforts. Ruffin failed to show up for his very first return show with the group in Gathersburg, Maryland. The group had had enough of Ruffin. Edwards was brought back on to replace Ruffin permanently this time.
Edwards song lead on multiple Temptations hits including: Cloud Nine, I Can’t Get Next To You, Ball Of Confusion, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, and Shakey Ground. Cloud Nine and Papa Was A Rolling Stone won Grammy Awards.
Edwards remained with The Temptations until 1977 when he was fired by group member and founder, Otis Reading. The Temptations left Motown and Edwards went on to release a few solo efforts with Motown. Edwards without The Temptations was not working. The Temptations without Edwards was not working out much better either. Edwards reunited with the group in 1980 when The Temptations returned to Motown. Edwards and Ruffin finally got a chance to sing together during the groups reunion tour in 1982. By 1984, Edwards began missing shows and rehearsals and was replaced by Ollie Woodson.
During the 1990’s, Edwards began touring under the name ‘Dennis Edwards and The Temptations’, even though no other actual members of the group were on Edwards’ tour. A legal battle began between Edwards and Otis Williams. It was decided that Edwards’ group would be called “The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards.” Edwards group included Paul Williams Jr. (son of original member Paul Williams), David Sea, Mike Patillo, and Chris Arnold.
Dennis Edwards married Ruth Pointer in 1977. Edwards and Pointer went on to have a daughter, Issa. Issa Pointer went on to become a member of her mother’s group The Pointer Sisters.