Dennis Edwards, who performed as lead singer for the Motown group the Temptations, has died at aged 74.
He died in Chicago, his family told CBS News. They did not disclose the cause of death.
Edwards joined the Temptations in 1968 and had a number of hits including two Grammy award-winning songs, Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone and Cloud Nine.
His years of prominence with the group coincided with the Temps’ biggest pop albums: “Cloud Nine” (No. 4, 1969), “Puzzle People” (No. 5, 1969), “Psychedelic Shack” (No. 9, 1970), “All Directions” (No. 2, 1972) and “Masterpiece” (No. 7, 1973). All of those titles hit No. 1 on the R&B albums charts.
Dennis Edwards, former lead, singer of the #Temptations. I went to visit him at @RushMedical. He slept away. In his life he inspired millions around the world. We shall all remember him. So talented. He is above #CloudNine, going higher. RIP my brother beloved. pic.twitter.com/yg888HnOWz
— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) February 2, 2018
He pursued a solo career in the 1980s, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
Edwards, who would have turned 75 on Saturday, had solo hits such as Don’t Look Any Further and Coolin’ Out.
Fans have paid their respects on social media, and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson described Edwards as “so talented”.
Edwards was born Feb. 3, 1943 in Fairfield, Ala. His father was a minister, and he grew up singing in the church. He moved with his family to Detroit in the early ‘50s.
As a teen, Edwards sang gospel, but, like Sam Cooke and many other prominent gospel performers, he turned to rhythm & blues. He briefly led his own group, Dennis Edwards and the Fireballs. In 1966, after a stint in the military, he joined Motown on retainer in a utility role, and worked briefly with the Contours.
David Ruffin’s escalating drug problems and egomania created tension within the Temptations, and in 1968 Williams and Eddie Kendricks brought Edwards into the act, while Ruffin exited for a solo career.
Edwards’ presence toughened the group’s vocal sound, and his presence helped loft Whitfield’s ingenious, densely produced records – which reflected the influence of Sly & the Family Stone and other rock-leaning soul acts of the day – to the pinnacle of both the pop and R&B charts.
The Temptations was one of the leading male vocal groups of the 1960s and early 1970s, and helped define the signature Motown sound.
Edwards is survived by a daughter from his brief marriage to Ruth Pointer of the Pointer Sisters.