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Passings: Dennis Edwards of the Temptations (1943 - 2018)

by VVN Music

Dennis Edwards, who replaced David Ruffin in the Temptations in 1968 and stayed with them until 1977 along with a couple of stints in the 80's, had died in Chicago one day before his 75th birthday.

Back in May, it was reported that Edwards was seriously ill in the hospital although there was no indication as to his situation. Some reports today have said that he died of meningitis but that is yet to be confirmed.

Born near Birmingham, Alabama, he started singing in his father's church at the age of 2. When he was 10, the family moved to Chicago where he eventually became his church's choir director. He also joined the gospel group The Mighty Clouds of Joy and studied at the Detroit Conservatory of Music.

In 1961, he formed the group Dennis Edwards and the Fireballs, defying his parents order that he not sing secular music. The group released the single "I Didn't Have To (But I Did)" on the small International Soulville label.

After a stint in the military, he auditioned for Motown who, in 1966, put him into the Contours. Although the group was past their hitmaking days, they toured as an opening act for the Temptations whose Eddie Kendricks and Otis Williams took notice of the young talent.

In late 1967, Edwards left the Contours and, despite an attempt to get out of his contract to join Holland-Dozier-Holland's Invictus Records, he was instead assigned to the Temptations as a replacement for the fired David Ruffin.

Edwards was instrumental in the Temptations psychedelic sound, singing on hits like "Cloud Nine", "I Can't Get Next to You" and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone".

In 1977, Edwards was fired from the Temptations by Williams and he attempted a solo career but, when the group, who had left Motown, returned to the label in 1980, Edwards was brought back in. In 1984, after some personal problems, Edwards was again fired and he finally found solo success with the single "Don't Look Any Further" (1984 / #72 Pop / #2 R&B). Two additional hits followed, "(You're My) Aphrodisiac" (1984 / #18 R&B) and "Coolin Out" (1985 / #23 R&B) but, in 1987, he was brought back into the Temptations where he would stay until 1989 when he was fired again by Williams.

For a time, he toured with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks as Ruffin/Kendricks/Edwards, but the project came to an end with the deaths of the other two singers.

Dennis finished out his career touring as The Temptations Review Featuring Dennis Edwards.

Edwards was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the only honoree that was not one of the original five members of the group.

He was briefly married to Ruth Pointer of the Pointer Sisters during the late-70's.  Their daughter, Issa Pointer, is currently a member of the group.