The Temptations is an American vocal group that achieved fame as one of the most successful acts to record for Motown Records. The group's repertoire has included, at various times during its five-decade career, R&B, doo-wop, funk, disco, soul, and adult contemporary music. Formed in Detroit, Michigan, in 1960 as The Elgins, the Temptations have always featured at least five male vocalists/dancers. Known for their recognizable choreography, distinct harmonies, and flashy onstage suits, The Temptations were influential to early American soul artists. Having sold tens of millions of albums, the Temptations are one of the most successful groups in music history. To date, the Temptations continue to perform and record for Universal Records with its one living original member, Otis Williams, still in the lineup.
The original lineup included members of two local Detroit vocal groups, from The Distants, second tenor Otis Williams, first tenor Elbridge "Al" Bryant, and bass Melvin Franklin and from The Primes, first tenor/falsetto Eddie Kendricks and second tenor/baritone Paul Williams. Among the most notable future Temptations were lead singers David Ruffin and Dennis Edwards, Richard Street, Damon Harris, Glenn Leonard, Ron Tyson, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Theo Peoples, and G. C. Cameron. Like its “sister” female group, the Supremes, the Temptations' lineup has changed frequently over the years.
Over the course of their career, the Temptations have released four Billboard Hot 100 #1 singles and 14 Billboard R&B #1 singles. Between 1965 and 1969 they released 8 consecutive #1 albums on the Billboard R&B Albums chart and have 14 total #1 albums on the chart.
Their material has earned them three Grammy Awards, while two more awards were conferred upon the songwriters and producers who crafted their 1972 hit “Papa Was a Rollin' Stone.” The Temptations were the first Motown act to earn a Grammy Award. Six Temptations (Dennis Edwards, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, David Ruffin, Otis Williams, and Paul Williams) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Three classic Temptations songs, “My Girl,” “Ain't Too Proud to Beg” and “Papa Was a Rollin' Stone,” are among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.