Otis Williams

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This article is about a member of The Temptations. For the doo-wop group, see Otis Williams and the Charms.
Otis Williams
Otis Williams of the Temptations on Ed Sullivan.jpg
Otis Williams performing with The Temptations on The Ed Sullivan Show in September 1969.
Background information
Birth name Otis Miles, Jr.
Born (1941-10-30) October 30, 1941 (age 72)
Texarkana, Texas, U.S.
Origin Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genres R&B, pop, soul, disco
Occupations Singer, songwriter, producer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1958–present
Labels Warwick, Motown, Atlantic, New Door/Universial
Associated acts The Temptations

Otis Williams (born Otis Miles, Jr. October 30, 1941) is an American baritone[1][2] singer. Nicknamed "Big Daddy", he is occasionally also a songwriter and a record producer. Williams is best known as the last original surviving member of the Motown vocal group The Temptations,[1] a group in which he continues to perform.

Early life[edit]

Williams was born Otis Miles, Jr.[2][3] in Texarkana, Texas to Otis Miles and Hazel Louise Williams, an unmarried couple who separated shortly after their son's birth.[2] While he was still a toddler, his mother married and moved to Detroit, Michigan, leaving the younger Otis Miles to be raised by both of his grandmothers in Texarkana.[2] Hazel Williams moved her son to Detroit when he was ten years old, where he lived with his mother and his stepfather.[2]

Career[edit]

Main article: The Temptations

Becoming interested in music as a teenager, Otis Miles, Jr. adopted his mother's maiden name for his stage name, and as Otis Williams put together a number of singing groups. These groups included Otis Williams and the Siberians, the El Domingoes and the Distants. In 1959, The Distants scored a local hit, co-written by Williams and their manager/producer Johnnie Mae Matthews, called "Come On", with lead vocals by Richard Street. Future Distants recordings were not as successful, and after an offer from Berry Gordy of Motown Records, Williams and his friends/bandmates Elbridge "Al" Bryant and Melvin Franklin quit the Distants. Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams from The Primes later joined Williams, Bryant, and Franklin to create the Elgins, who signed to Motown in March 1961 as "The Temptations".

The Temptations eventually became the most successful act in black music over the course of its nearly five-decade existence, over which time notable singers such as David Ruffin, Dennis Edwards, former Distant Richard Street, Damon Harris, Ron Tyson, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Theo Peoples, Ray Davis and former Spinners singer G.C. Cameron have all been members. In fact, the group's lineup changes were so frequent, stressful and troublesome that Williams and Melvin Franklin promised each other they would never quit the group. Franklin would remain in the group until 1994, when he became physically incapable of continuing. Franklin died on February 23, 1995, leaving Otis Williams, then 53, as the last surviving original member of the Temptations quintet.

Williams is the co-author, with Patricia Romanowski, of Temptations, a 1988 book that served as both his autobiography and a history of the group. Ten years later, the book was adapted into a NBC television miniseries The Temptations. Williams was portrayed by actor Charles Malik Whitfield.

Although he has served the longest tenure in the Temptations, Williams rarely sings lead, focusing instead on his role as the group's leader and organizer, and as the background "tenor in the middle". The Smokey Robinson and Eddie Kendrick written track "Don't Send Me Away" from the LP The Temptations with a Lot o' Soul (1967), the intro on early group song "Check Yourself" (1961) and the Norman Whitfield-penned tune "I Ain't Got Nothing" from 1972's All Directions are extremely rare showcases for Williams singing lead. Williams has provided non-singing (spoken word) contributions to some Temptation songs, including "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" (1968, a hit duet with Diana Ross and Eddie Kendricks sharing the lead vocals), and during the opening verse of "Masterpiece" (1973).

In 1989, Otis Williams was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Temptations.[4]

Williams received an honorary doctorate from Stillman College in May 2006.

Personal life[edit]

Williams married Josephine Rogers in 1961;[5][6] the couple's son, Otis Lamont, was born the same year.[5][6] He and Josephine divorced in 1964; Williams went on to date Florence Ballard of The Supremes and was for a time engaged to R&B singer Patti LaBelle.

Williams was married to Ann Cain from 1967 to 1973,[7] and married his third wife, Arleata "Goldie" Williams (née Carter), in 1983.[8] Arleata Williams' daughter Elan Carter became 1994's Playboy's Playmate of the Month for June 1994.[9] They divorced in 1997. His son, Otis Lamont Williams, was a construction worker who died in a workplace accident in Detroit in 1983.[10]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Biography: The Temptations". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 October 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Ribowsky, Mark (2010). Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The Troubled Lives and Endearing Soul of the Temptations. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 7-9
  3. ^ Higgins, Chester (April 1971-February 22, 2013). "Temptations". [[Ebony (magazine)|]]. Retrieved 02-17-2013.
  4. ^ List of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees
  5. ^ a b Williams, Otis and Romanowski, Patricia (1988, updated 2002). Temptations. Lanham, MD: Cooper Square. ISBN 0-8154-1218-5. pg. 52-53
  6. ^ a b "RUFFIN-STEINBACK v. dePASSE (UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT)" (PDF). 2001-09-28. Retrieved 2013-02-17. 
  7. ^ Williams and Romanowski (1988, updated 2002), pg. 122-123
  8. ^ Ribowsky, Mark (2010). Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The Troubled Lives and Endearing Soul of the Temptations. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 263
  9. ^ http://www.otiswilliams.net/bio.aspx
  10. ^ Williams and Romanowski (1988, updated 2002), pg. 214-215

External links[edit]