David Ruffin to be honored with street name in Detroit

(May 7, 2019) This June, legendary Motown artist and Temptations’ lead singer, David Ruffin will be honored when Parkside St. in Detroit, becomes “David Ruffin Avenue.” It will be part of the weekend celebrations surrounding the new inductions in the R&B Hall of Fame in Detroit

(May 7, 2019) This June, legendary Motown artist and Temptations’ lead singer, David Ruffin will be honored when Parkside St. in Detroit, becomes “David Ruffin Avenue.” It will be part of the weekend celebrations surrounding the new inductions in the R&B Hall of Fame in Detroit

LaMont Robinson, Founder and CEO of the National R&B HOF says, “I, along with the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, presented the idea to the city of Detroit. I have been a major fan of The Temptations and Mr. Ruffin since childhood. We wanted to honor this legend with a street named after him, in a city that he loved so much. It brings me great pleasure and joy to see how happy and proud his family members are of this recognition. This is a major honor that will live on and on.” To see the list of events going on for R&B Hall of Fame Weekend (June 21st – June 23rd), go to the official website: https://www.rbhalloffame.com/.

Certainly one of the greatest Soul singers of all time, David Ruffin was an enigmatic man whose own internal struggles and contradictions led to a tumultuous career, both as the lead vocalist of the Temptations and subsequently as a solo singer. During the period 1965-68, the Temptations became the biggest Soul group in the world, and Ruffin's star correspondingly grew. His gruff, impassioned lead vocals on dozens of songs including "My Girl," "Beauty's Only Skin Deep" and especially the electric "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" were unparalleled, and provided a gritty soulfulness over the slick Motown arrangements. But friction with group members led to Ruffin's departure in 1968 after a series of now classic albums with the Tempts.

Ruffin was devastated by his dismissal, but began his solo career strongly in 1969 with "My Whole World Ended," taking both the single and accompanying album to the top of the Soul charts and the Pop top 10. The uptempo follow up single, "I've Lost Everything I've Ever Loved" was also a gem, but began a slow five year descent on the Soul charts. He released I Am My Brother's Keeper, a duet album with his brother Jimmy (who had scored earlier on Motown with "What Becomes of a Brokenhearted"), and recorded additional discs with the help of Johnny Bristol and Van McCoy, but didn't chart again big until his 1975 hustle dance cut, "Walk Away From Love." It was another great performance and paved the way for the equally satisfying 1976 hit, "Everything's Coming Up Love."

After fading again from sight over the next few years, Ruffin left Motown for Warner Brothers in 1980 and recorded two moderately successful albums there. By the 1980s, Ruffin's problems with drug addiction became more pronounced and affected his career. However, his glorious past and unique vocal stylings continued to create opportunities for him. He rejoined the Temptations in 1982 for a reunion tour and album, but old problems reemerged and the reunion tour ended bitterly. Then Ruffin and former Tempts-mate Eddie Kendrick began touring together, and ultimately landed a recording contract with the help of Hall & Oates. They made a live album with H&O and followed it up with 1987's Ruffin and Kendrick, which included the hit "I Couldn't Believe It". Sadly, Ruffin died in 1991 from an drug overdose.

While personal problems dogged David Ruffin much of his adult life, his vocal performances as a Temptation and as a solo singer are without question among R&B’s greatest, and are still revered by fans around the world. And with the renaming of a street in Detroit, Ruffin’s musical contributions will be rightfully honored.

By Chris Rizik

 
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