The catalog of Motown legends, The Temptations, is so iconic that it can be divided into several distinct eras. In my opinion, the group put out their most unique, genre defining material right after David Ruffin was “fired”, and they began anew, collaborating with the production and songwriting team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. That means the incredible Dennis Edwards sang on most of my favorite Temptations songs: “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, “I Can’t Get Next To You,” “Cloud Nine” and so many more.
With Whitfield, Strong and Edwards aboard, the Temps philosophy highlighted the group over any single individual. This was now an ensemble with five lead singers, and they were unstoppable. Though the powerful Edwards could easily have demanded more time up front, he thrived in his new role.
No one could replace the irreplaceable David Ruffin, and Edwards didn’t try. He was a team player, stepping up when it was required, playing his role the rest of the time. And that’s exactly why it worked so well.
He went on later to solo success and the Temptations Revue, but Dennis Edwards made history when he joined one of the biggest groups of the day at a point where it all could have fallen apart. He was a hero who not only helped keep the group together, he brought a new sense of artistry and passion that solidified the group’s place on soul music’s Mount Kilimanjaro.
Rest in the Funk, Dennis Edwards.