Motown's legendary Temptations to perform at Sikeston Field House

Sunday, May 2, 2010
The Temptations are, from left, Bruce Williamson, Terry Weeks, Otis Williams, Ron Tyson and Joe Herndon. (Courtesy of The Temptations)

SIKESTON, Mo. -- For those who have seen the advertisements for The Temptations in concert and were wondering: It's really them.

"There's a lot of people wondering if it's the real Temptations," said the show's promoter, Carlos Nelson of SBL Entertainment of Atlanta. "This is the legendary Temptations featuring Otis Williams, the founder. He was there from the beginning and he's still there."

Williams and the other four singers in the current lineup, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon and Bruce Williamson, will take the stage at 7 p.m. May 21 at the Sikeston Field House.

The group got its start when members of two local Detroit groups, the Distants and the Primes, banded together as The Elgins and auditioned for Motown in March 1961.

The original lineup included second tenor Otis Williams; first tenor Elbridge "Al" Bryant; bass Melvin Franklin; first tenor/falsetto Eddie Kendricks; and second tenor/baritone Paul Williams, no relation the group's founder, Otis Williams.

They became The Temptations when, just before signing with Motown, it was discovered another group was already using The Elgins as a name.

While there have been numerous changes in The Temptations' personnel over the decades, the group has always featured five male vocalists -- all of which could and did sing lead in addition to providing harmonies.

Likewise, the hallmarks of The Temptations -- distinct rich harmonies, precise choreography, sharp outfits -- could always be counted on.

What many consider to be the classic lineup consisted of Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin.

While Otis Williams is the only living member from the original and classic lineups, "the group right now is as tight as when they had David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks," Nelson said.

The current lineup, he added, still features "the flashy suits, the dance, the steps -- they still do it as they did back in the '60s, '70s and '80s."

Three of The Temptations' hits are numbered among the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll: "My Girl," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone."

"And they were No. 45 on the list of top 100 greatest groups of all time on the Billboard charts," Nelson said.

The Temptations are best known for their oldies but have continued to make music: a new album, "Still Here," is slated for release May 4.

"You are going to have people of all ages enjoying this show, and that makes me happy -- that is what it's all about; that's why I put on shows," Nelson said. "I'm not into promoting shows for the money. I love to stand back and watch the audience have a great time. It's much more to me than money -- I live to give. I'm happy making people happy."

Nelson's first production here, "Meet the Browns," was a not-for-profit arrangement for him. "I gave all the proceeds to New Deliverance Outreach Ministries," he noted.

"When I got here, Sikeston kind of grew on me a little bit," Nelson said. "I brought in 'Meet the Browns' last year and then came back with 'Streetball Live' -- I'm just trying to bring a variety of entertainment in for everyone."

Proceeds from the Streetball Live Tour went to the Sikeston athletic department with donations going to various other not-for-profit organizations affiliated with the tour.

Even though Sikeston doesn't have a huge population, "a lot of people come here to Sikeston," he said. "It's a crossroads. I think Sikeston is a great place to bring in entertainment."

Tickets are available at Homestead Electronics, 120 South Main in Sikeston, and at McClain's Food Center on South Main Street in Charleston, Mo.

For more information, call 573-931-3862.

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