He was a star both as a solo artist and as the Temptations lead singer and, after he passed away in in 2018, Dennis Edwards’ unique vocal delivery was perfectly captured by a huge admirer, award-winning Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. who wrote, “He sang like his fists were clenched, sang like he had a grudge, his voice the sound of a rotary saw biting into hard wood.”
- First hit: As lead singer of The Contours, “It’s So Hard Being A Loser.”
- Biggest hit: As a group member, with the Temptations, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” and as a solo artist, “Don’t Look Any Further” (with Siedah Garrett).
- Top Album: Don’t Look Any Further
- Career Highlight: Edwards helped usher in the Temptations psychedelic soul era on “Cloud Nine,” Motown’s first Grammy-winning record, and became the group’s dominant lead voice on a string of monster hits, including “I Can’t Get Next To You,” Ball Of Confusion” and “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” which won three Grammys. As a member of the Temps, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and received a lifetime Grammy Award.
- Born February 3, 1943 in Fairfield, Alabama, Edwards starts singing at age 2 in the church where his father is minister. After his family moves to Detroit, Edwards turns to secular music, and famed Funk Brothers bassist James Jamerson suggests he auditions at Motown in the mid-60s. He briefly fronts the Contours before joining the Temptations in 1968, replacing David Ruffin, and is a member for 10 years. He’s in and out of the group into the ‘90s.
- His solo career resumes at Motown in ’84 with releases that score big on the Quiet Storm radio format. He first partners with Garrett for “Don’t Look Any Further,” which reaches Number 2 on the R&B charts. His first solo LP follows, containing another hit, “(You’re My) Aphrodisiac.”
- A second LP, Coolin’ Out, is released in ’85 and continues the strong ballad groove. The title song (which Edwards co-wrote with producer Dennis Lambert and members of the Temptations) is a hit. The album also features the single “Amanda” and a duet with Thelma Houston on “Why Do People Fall in Love.”
- In 1998, he releases an updated dance version of “Don’t Look Any Further” with the Weather Girls.
- Edwards continues to tour well into the 21st Century, either with the Temps, with fellow Temps alumni Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, or in his own Temptations Review.
- In addition to Dennis’ numerous Temptations recordings, Motown releases a compilation CD from his solo LPs in 2002 and in 2014, Kent Records in the U.K. assembles a collection of rare and unreleased tracks which includes Edwards leading the Contours and some early solo Motown recordings.