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Ron Tyson (born February 8, 1948) is an American singer and songwriter. Tyson is the current tenor for long-lived singing group The Temptations, filling the role made famous by Eddie Kendricks in the 1960s.
Born February 8, 1948, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tyson was raised in Monroe, North Carolina. Ron was influenced at an early age by gospel music, particularly the work of Rev. Caleb Anderson. While singing with his grandfather's gospel group, Southern Gospel Six, he recorded his first record at the age of 7. Pop recording duo (founding members of the group JODECI) "K-Ci's and Jo Jo's" grandfather also sang lead with Southern Gospel Six. Tyson's grandfather, Horace Presson had a radio show and he was also a gospel music promoter. Ron traveled around performing with his grandfather. This experience enabled him to develop an appreciation for gospel music and taught him a great deal about the music business in general.
Tyson later returned to Philadelphia and attended Thomas Edison, Onley, and the Granoffsky School of Music where he studied opera and the guitar. The guitar lessons were short lived, but the techniques he learned in his opera classes are often used in his performances now, such as breathing techniques, scales, and being able to determine a perfect pitch.
Before joining the Temptations, Tyson was lead singer of The Ethics, with Carl "Nugie" Enlow, Andrew "Bike" Collins, and Joe Freeman. The group originated during 1967 in Philadelphia and was produced and managed by Thadeus Wales in conjunction with Salassi Productions, Inc. They were signed to Vent, a small local Independent company. Despite the standard problems so many small labels ran into, the music was good enough to sell well. With songs like "Searching", "Farewell", and "Tell Me", these songs carry on that melodic vein and features Tyson's falsetto. After Vent's demise, they carried on changing the group's name to "Love Committee". The line up for Love Committee included Norman Frazier, Larry Richardson, Joe Freeman, and Ron Tyson. After the death of Larry Richardson, Michael Bell, who also sang with "Sly, Slick, and Wicked", became the newest member. They recorded for TSOP and scored disco hits in the 1970s for Ariola International and Gold Mind, popular for the R&B hit "Law And Order".
The Philadelphia Sound
In addition to being a great singer/performer, Tyson was also a hit making song writer and producer in Philadelphia. He wrote or co-wrote the majority of the songs for The Ethics & Love Committee. He worked with such artists as the O'Jays, First Choice, the Salsoul Orchestra, Gloria Gaynor, Loleatta Holloway, Double Exposure, The Trammps, and Bunny Sigler. He also worked with the Four Tops, Joe Simon, Curtis Mayfield, The Dells, Archie Bell and the Drells, Blue Magic and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. On Loleatta Holloway's LP, "Love Sensation", Tyson co-wrote and co-produced "I'll be standing there" and on Curtis Mayfield's LP, "Heartbeat", Ron co-produced "Tell me, Tell me, How ya liked to be loved" and "Victory". Tyson, along with Norman "The Machine" Harris, Ron Kersey, Alan Felder. Ronnie Baker and several others worked on a lot of projects for "The Harris Machine" (Norman Harris' production company). They were a very popular songwriting and production team who scored major hits with a variety of artists for several years. They co-wrote and produced The Dells' "Betcha Never been loved (like this before)", "Teaser", "Our Love", "Rich Man Poor Man (peace), "Waiting for you" and the title track "They said it couldn't be done (but we did it)". On the Ojay's LP "Survival", Ron co-wrote "What am I waiting for" and on The Trammps' LP "Disco Inferno", he co-wrote "Starvin'" and "Don't burn no bridges". Joe Simon-Love Vibrations/Happy Birthday Baby Ron also worked with the Legendary Joe Simon on his LP "Love Vibrations/Happy Birthday Baby". On this LP Ron co-wrote and co-produced "I can't stand a liar", "Somebody for Everybody", "If you got the time(I got the place)", "It must be love" and "I.O.U.". Joe Simon was a great inspiration for Tyson. Tyson learned how to read music and special counts bars from Joe who was very influential in helping Tyson to become a great songwriter. He taught Ron many different things about the art of songwriting. Bishop Joe Simon and Tyson are still great friends today.
Tyson also worked with Harris-Baker-Young, Philadelphia's disco rhythm section that consisted of guitarist Norman "The Machine" Harris, drummer Earl Young, and bass player, Ron Baker.
Tyson's first appearance with the Temptations was on the "Motown 25" television special in 1983. His entry into the group was delayed for a couple of days because of a bad snowstorm, so easing him into the group slowly never worked out. The call asking the Temptations to perform on Motown 25 came in and Ron had to get to work. He had been working with a choreographer to learn the routines but after receiving the call to perform, he had to go with what he knew. After practicing a few moves (including the famous "Temptations Walk") while waiting in the wings backstage, a very nervous but excited Tyson went on stage and performed. He has been part of the group for over 30 years. Before that, he wrote the majority of songs on The Temptations' "HEAR to Tempt You" LP 1977, including the two singles, "In A Lifetime" and "Think For Yourself." Tyson co-wrote songs and sang background on both Norman Harris produced Eddie Kendricks' albums, "He's A Friend" and "Goin' Up In Smoke." On "Goin' Up In Smoke" Phil Hurt, Bunny Sigler, and Carl Helm also sang background with Tyson. Tyson also sang background vocals on several of the sessions in Philly. Although he is known for singing tenor, he is capable of singing bass as well.
Becoming the 13th member of the group, Tyson is Eddie Kendricks' 4th successor after he left the group in 1971. Before Tyson, there was Rickey Owens, Damon Harris, and Glenn Leonard. He has a tenure with the group that is third only to baritone Otis Williams, who has been in the group since its inception in 1960, and bass Melvin Franklin, who was in the group from 1960 until his death in 1995.
Beyond the Temptations
In 2004, Tyson co-wrote and recorded his own solo album entitled, "Christmas... My Favourite Holiday." The CD includes both traditional and original holiday songs. There are also several collaborations and duets with vocalists, friends and associates including Al McKenzie, Penny Wells, Ashley Davis, Oji Pierce and Eugene "Lamb Chops" Curry.
In 2012, he released his 2nd solo album entitled "Recipe 4 Love." This recording includes a duet with Freda Payne. Ron also collaborates with the album's producer, award-winning Preston Glass, along with having two new songs written by Vinnie Barrett.