Listen: Laura Bennett chats to Otis Williams, the last remaining original member of The Temptations.
Whether you first discovered them through your parents, the radio, or you were an original fan, The Temptations have been a longstanding member of the music industry, creating hits that have outlasted generations.
Labelled by some as ‘The Emperors of Soul’, for more than 50 years they’ve been going strong in the entertainment space, with over 35 top 40 hits and fifteen in the Top 10 including Smokey Robinson-written-and-produced “The Way You Do the Things You Do”, “My Girl”, and “Treat Her Like a Lady” amongst many others.
Despite many changes to their original line up with the sad passing of vocalists like Paul Williams and David Ruffin, and others like Dennis Edwards and Richard Street leaving the group, what’s remarkable is how The Temptations have stayed true to their original sound and ethos.
Current member Roya Tyson 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.”
Otis Williams (now the last remaining original Temptation) has seen it all, coming to describe the band as “God’s group”:
“God has really blessed me to continue on with this group ‘cos we were supposed to be ’through’ a long time ago.”
“People thought once [we saw] David Ruffin go, that should’ve been the demise of The Temptations. In my home I have a big beautiful oil painting of 24 different guys that’s been in and out of the Temps… and I look back on it and God has really blessed me to continue on with this group ‘cos we were supposed to be ’through’ a long time ago.”
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On what gives Williams the joy and perspective to have endured so many changes he says, “When I stop to think about this world, anyone who’s in showbiz is in such a small microcosm of what life’s really all about… I see the bigger picture.”
‘The Emperors of Soul’ are in Sydney this week, performing a series of Ballroom Cabaret shows at the Sofitel.