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Legendary Temptations singer Dennis Edwards dies at 74

Kevin C. Johnson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Entertainment News

ST. LOUIS -- Grammy-winning singer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dennis Edwards, an unmistakable voice of classic Motown vocal group the Temptations, died Thursday of complications from meningitis, his family confirms.

He was 74; he would have been 75 on Saturday.

Edwards, who lived in Florissant in the St. Louis area with his wife, Brenda Edwards, died in a hospital in Chicago. He had been in and out of hospitals since a May 2017 diagnosis, she said.

While Edwards wasn't an original singer with the classic Temptations lineup -- David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and Otis Williams -- he was the official sixth member. It was his rough-and-tough signature voice that helped guide the Temptations through its funk-psychedelic period on classic tunes such as "Cloud Nine," "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today)," "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" and "I Can't Get Next to You." ("Cloud Nine" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" were Grammy-winning songs.)

The Temptations received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2013 that Edwards received along with Otis Williams and survivors of the departed group members. The Temptations were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

Ronald Isley of the Isley Brothers, a longtime friend of Edwards, called him "one of the greats. He had a gift, a talent, and he really sang. There aren't many people left with voices like his."

 

The two met in 1965 when the Temptations and the Isley Brothers were working their way up in the music world, often performing shows together.

Edwards, Isley and Aretha Franklin performed "A Song for You" together in 2011 in Cleveland at the 16th Annual Music Masters tribute concert honoring Franklin. It was one of Isley's last great memories with Edwards. "We had a ball," he says. "(Franklin) asked about him every time I talked to her."

Isley, who knew Edwards had been ailing, said "we prayed for him and hoped he would get himself together and be able to come back. But he's with the Lord now."

A number of other famous names paid tribute to Edwards, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Kenny Rogers, Roland Martin and the Pointer Sisters (Edwards was briefly married to Ruth Pointer in 1977).

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