Dennis Edwards, the Detroit singer who gritty, electrical vocals led the Temptations into a brand-new phase of their career, died Thursday night in a Chicago hospital. He was 74.

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Edwards, that joined the above Motown team in 1968 in the wake up of David Ruffin"s firing, was the influential voice on enduring Tempts access time such as "Papa was a Rollin" Stone," "Ball of confusion (That"s What the civilization is Today)" and also "Cloud Nine." He stayed a clip of the core group through the 1980s, and also in the "90s formed a splinter plot that ultimately toured together the Temptations evaluation Featuring Dennis Edwards.

In later on years, Edwards stated he to be appreciative of the audiences that preserved him performing regularly, and also he looked ago fondly ~ above his glory years through the Temptations.

"All of a sudden, here you’re a man on the block and also you’re singing with these legends," the told the cost-free Press in 2016 around joining the group. "Well, you had actually to lug your video game up. I was simply so proud."


Dennis Edwards top top "Papa was a Rollin" Stone"

A Motown Museum representative and also others close to Edwards shown his death. Edwards, a graduate the Detroit"s east High institution (now martin Luther King High), most recently lived in the St. Louis area, and also the St. Luigi Post-Dispatch reported that he died of symptom from meningitis, for which the was at first hospitalized last spring.

"My heart is very heavy," Martha Reeves called the complimentary Press. "I feel like I"ve been hit through a sledgehammer."

Reeves said she and fellow Motown alumni such as the Supremes" Mary Wilson had heard that Edwards to be hospitalized, however that details had been difficult to come by.

"We"ve been praying that he made a recovery," Reeves said. "We must all it is in in better communication with each other, since we"re a family."

Former Motown songwriter and A&R chief Mickey Stevenson freshly saw Edwards throughout an L.A. Visit. The Temptations singer "was obtaining a cold," however otherwise showed up normal, Stevenson said.

Through the years, Edwards was characterized by his boundless power onstage and off, Stevenson said.

"Here"s a male who could jump up, sing and dance at any type of given moment, like there was no end," Stevenson said. "Which was a great thing. That was constantly trying to store things top top the up. He was energized and kept a smile on his face."

Motown founder Berry Gordy prolonged condolences to Edwards" household in a explain Friday evening.

"I to be saddened about the happen of the one and also only, Dennis Edwards. Another bright irradiate from our Motown household is gone," the said. "Dennis to be the perfect artist to sign up with the Temptations in ~ a an essential time in the group’s rise. He epitomized their layout — tall, dark, handsome — and also a voice favor no other. ... Whenever we would greet each other, it to be bear hugs and also warm smiles."

With the shoot of Ruffin — climate a close girlfriend — Edwards was enlisted for the Tempts alongside Otis Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and also Melvin Franklin. He join a team that was currently soaring together the best male R&B outfit the the era, v a litany of hits that had "My Girl," "The method You do the things You Do" and "Ain"t as well Proud come Beg."

"When friend think about the Temptations earlier in the day, largely you think about David Ruffin — he’d turn the mic around, jump up and down," Edwards told the complimentary Press in 2016, including with a laugh: "I told them ideal away: "Look, man, I’m not that type of dancer. Yet I think I have the right to sing.""

Working with progressive-minded producer Norman Whitfield — and also taking advantage of the rougher textures offered by Edwards" baritone voice — the group expanded into edgier, psychedelic-tinged territory.

“They were trying to number out what type of song to give me that would certainly suit my voice. We cut a couple of songs, however they want something in an additional vein," Edwards said. "So they came up v ‘Cloud Nine.’ … it was various for the Temptations. That was like a real soul (song), v the multi leads. The won the very first Grammy Award for Motown, believe it or not.”

The recording Academy, which runs the Grammys, honored Edwards in a explain Friday night, celebrating his three career wins and the Temptations" Lifetime accomplishment Award.

"Dennis Edwards helped specify Detroit soul in the late 1960s together the music of Motown acts was becoming an ext socially aware," check out the tribute. "Edwards will certainly forever it is in remembered as one of Motown"s most commemorated vocalists. He will be dearly missed, and our think go out to his family and friends during this challenging time."

The Temptations" hits v Edwards conveniently piled up: "I Can"t get Next to You," "Psychedelic Shack," "Ball that Confusion," "Shakey Ground" and, in 1972, the epos track pertained to as one of the era"s masterpieces: "Papa to be a Rollin" Stone."

"It was simply really magical," Edwards recalled the the song. "Even today, everywhere I go, that"s one of the most well-received songs ns do. Everybody to know it."

In its full form, "Papa" and also its simmering funk ran for 12 minutes; even its edited solitary version clocked in at more than six. Still, the monitor was embraced by popular music radio, topping Billboard"s hot 100 and earning the Grammy for ideal R&B vocal performance.

"We found out: If you have a quality record, they would certainly play it," Edwards said.

Listen to Dennis Edwards talk around "Papa to be a Rollin" Stone":

As the Tempts" lineup began to shift, Edwards was twice dismissed from the group for quick spells — in 1977 and 1984 — before permanently leaving in 1989, the year he was part of the group"s induction right into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame. A solo job landed him 3 hits on the optimal 40 that Billboard"s R&B chart, consisting of 1984"s "Don"t Look any Further" v Siedah Garrett, which just missed the No. 1 spot.

Edwards" career was mainly dormant when he acquired a speak to in the "90s to execute at a personal Detroit function. Finding himself without a tape or other singers, that turned to longtime Detroit music-biz number Foody Rome for an assist; Rome rounded up members that the groups 5 Special and Living proof to join Edwards onstage for the night.

That to be the begin of the task that came to be known as the Temptations evaluation Featuring Dennis Edwards, a surname he cleared up on after ~ a rights conflict with starting Temptation Otis Williams. Edwards ongoing to carry out under the banner for the next two decades, even during his recent health and wellness battles.

"Dennis was one of those Motown artist that constantly came with his A game — the was his favourite phrase," said Rome, who generally booked gigs for Edwards at regional venues such as Andiamo Celebrity Showroom and also Freedom Hill Amphitheatre. "That early on Motown training stuck with him through the years, for this reason it always had come be v perfection."

Edwards" distinctive voice continued to offer him fine in later on years.

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"He had that strong first and 2nd baritone, and it held up an extremely well," stated Rome. "He might do a falsetto scream — you"re looking at him, thinking, "Where walk that come from?!" His voice was an extremely strong.”

Rome will celebrate Edwards" life and music Sunday night ~ above "Cruisin" through Foody," native 7 p.m. To midnight in ~ WMXD-FM (Mix 92.3).

Contact Detroit free Press music writer Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 or bmccollum