(February 2, 2018) He was one of the all-time great voices of soul -- a man whose singing led the second generation of the legendary Temptations, and who had a solid solo career highlighted by the smash “Don’t Look Any Further.” We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death of Dennis Edwards, one day before his 75th birthday. Edwards had been ill for most of the past year.
Edwards’ immediately recognizable voice and personal charm made him one of the most revered singers of our time. The Alabama-born Edwards moved to the Motor City with his family as a youngster, and had brief stints as a young man in Hall of Fame acts The Mighty Clouds of Joy and The Contours. And just when Edwards was about to pursue a solo career in 1968, David Ruffin was “fired” from the Temptations, and the Motown brass chose Edwards to take the group forward as the lead singer.
With the arrival of the talented Edwards, who contrasted Ruffin’s smooth soul baritone with a powerful, Gospel-tinged voice, The Temptations changed their style, adapting to the emerging funk sounds and teaming with Motown producer Norman Whitfield for a series of monster hits such as “Cloud Nine,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and “I Can’t Get Next To You.”
Edwards remained with the group for nine years, parting ways when the Temptations split from Motown for an unsuccessful two album fling with Atlantic. But he returned, along with the group, for the Berry Gordy-produced Power album in 1980, a triumphant album that brought the Tempts back to the forefront. He left again in 1984, and immediately scored with his pop and soul smash “Don’t Look Any Further,” featuring a young Siedah Garrett. Three years later, as his solo career cooled, Edwards returned to the Temptations one last time for a two year stay.
For most of the last three decades, Edwards led his own group, The Temptations Revue feat. Dennis Edwards, and successfully recorded and toured the world several times over. He and his version of the Temptin’ Tempts remained in heavy demand right until the time of his death.
Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. issued the following statement regarding Mr. Edwards' death: "Dennis was the perfect artist to join the Temptations at a critical time in the group’s rise. He epitomized their style - tall, dark, handsome - and a voice like no other."
For those of us who grew up with the hits of Motown as a key part of the soundtrack of our lives, Dennis Edwards was like an old friend - our cousin who turn any song into something exciting and fresh. He will be greatly missed, and even more greatly celebrated. Rest in peace.
By Chris Rizik -SOULTRACKS