Much-loved, and one of the distinctive lead voices with THE TEMPTATIONS, DENNIS EDWARDS has died. Dennis passed away in Chicago on February 1st – two days before his 75th birthday. No official cause of death has been given. Last May we reported that the stentorian voiced ex Tempt was seriously ill and different news sites have suggested he was suffering with meningitis and/or pneumonia. Other sources suggest Dennis had had a stroke while one source says that he’d been going through rehabilitation suffering from an aneurysm. His nephew, Jason Quebec, posted that: “My uncle Dennis Edwards passed away this morning. Please keep my family in prayer. You were truly a class act, Dennis. I will miss you more than words can describe. It’s been a privilege to have been in your presence.
Dennis Wayne Edwards Jnr was born on 3rd February 1943 in Fairfield, Alabama and he began his singing career with The Mighty Clouds of Joy. After a stint in the army he auditioned for Berry Gordy and was signed to Motown in 1966. His first Motown opportunity came when he was drafted into the Contours who often opened for the Temptations on tour. When David Ruffin left (or was sacked from, depending on who you believe) the Temptations, Dennis Edwards was the natural choice – already known and popular with the rest of the group.
Just as Edwards joined, musical tastes were changing and Motown suits decided the Temptations needed a new direction – tougher, funkier and more adventurous. Dennis Edwards’ voice was the perfect vehicle for this new sound. Working with producer Norman Whitfield, Edwards led the legendary group on the hits ‘Cloud Nine’, ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’, ‘I Can’t Get Next To You’ and many more.
Dennis Edwards stayed with the group for nine years. He remained with Motown when they left for Atlantic, but when they rejoined the Motown fold he slipped back into his old role with them. He left again in 1984 and scored a major solo hit with ‘Don’t Look Any Further’ but was back with the Tempts three years later. Two years later he was out again and as his solo career stuttered he set up the Temptations Revue (pictured below)which at times also featured Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin. Trading on the Temptations brand naturally brought him into legal wrangling with the “original” group but he kept his version on the road for almost thirty years.
Dennis was briefly married to Ruth Pointer with whom he had a daughter, Issa – who went onto work with her mother and aunts in the Pointer Sisters. His second wife was Brenda Edwards.
Yesterday Berry Gordy posted: “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.”