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Sedona welcomes Motown legends, The Temptations

by Antoinette Beaudry

Now performing in their fifth decade, youll love the way The Temptations do the things they do on the amphitheatre stage of the Georgia Frontiere Performing Arts Pavilion at the Sedona Cultural Park, July 12.

Their fine-tuned choreography and even finer harmonies, led The Temptations to became Motowns definitive male vocal ensemble. Theyve entered the 21st century with a long legacy of songs for soul and R&B music lovers, along with a deeply entwined and tumultuous band history.

My Girl, The Way You Do The Things You Do, and Papa Was A Rolling Stone, became a part of American culture.

The Temptations initial five-man line-up formed in Detroit in 1961 was a merger of two local vocal groups, the Primes and the Distants. The Primes disbanded, but not before Otis Williams saw them perform live, and was impressed both by Eddie Kendricks silky tenor voice and Paul Williams choreography skills. Soon, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, Bryant and Kendricks joined together as the Elgins. Signed by Berry Gordy Jr., the group renamed themselves The Temptations on the front law of Motowns offices in 1961.

Choreographer Cholly Atkins joined the band in 1963 to add polish to Paul Williams street-wise steps. Later that year, Bryant left and David Ruffin joined the group. Ruffin brought excitement to the group - the wide, horn-rimmed glasses, emotional facial expressions, and electrifying moves and straining shouts. Combined with Franklins booming bass, Paul Williams smooth sounds, and Otis Williams baritone vocal prowess, they were on the road to staggering success. The hits kept coming through 1968. The most significant event of the year however was Ruffins leaving for a solo career.

At first viewed an insurmountable blow, but The Temptations overcame Ruffins departure by replacing him with the strong voice of ex-Contour Dennis Edwards and adopting a new psychedelic soul-sounding style. In 1969, Cloud Nine brought both the group and Motown its first Grammy. Despite more transitions in band members, the Temptations continued to blaze trails with Superstar and Papa Was A Rolling Stone, bringing two more Grammys and keeping the groups fortunes going.

Over three decades, the band had tremendous career highs and lows, they struggled through countless members, broken relationships, coke addiction, alcoholism, suicide, cancer, deadly arthritis, and still produced 37 career Top Ten hits. In short, all the melodramatic devices necessary for a TV miniseries, which they were the subject of in 1998. That same year, The Temptations made a dramatic comeback with Phoenix Rising and in the spring of 2000 they released Earresistible.

Again, riding on the crest of an ever mounting wave of popularity and playing to sold-out audiences nationwide, The Temptations sweet, smooth songs and voices, shimmering clothes, and smooth choreography have been the trade mark of what arguably might be Americas original boy band.

Their charismatic performance style and brilliant voices are as enchanting today as they were when My Girl was released in 1965. Dont miss The Emperors of Soul, this July at the Park.

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