Eddie Kendricks was an original member of The Temptations whose distinctive tenor and falsetto graced such group hits as “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “Get Ready” and “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me).” As a solo artist on the Tamla label he released nine albums between 1971 and 1977, and that’s our focus here.
- First Hit: “It’s So Hard For Me To Say Goodbye”
- Biggest Hit: “Keep On Truckin'”
- Top Album: Eddie Kendricks
- Solo Career Highlight: Besides two towering No. 1 hits, in “Truckin’” and “Boogie Down,” Kendricks’ early solo hit “Girl, You Need A Change Of Mind,” with its extended break and thrilling changes, is credited with kickstarting the disco phenomenon centered around the New York loft scene.
- Born Edward James Kendrick, Union Springs, Alabama, December 17, 1939. Roots in doo-wop and, with future fellow Temptations Paul Williams, a membership in The Primes vocal group, which combined with another local Detroit group The Distants forms The Temptations. Eddie remains with the Tempts until 1971, citing business and personal issues for his departure.
- All By Myself, Eddie’s solo debut LP produced by Frank Wilson in 1971, features on its sleeve endorsements from fellow Tempts. His solo career doesn’t immediately take off, but now-classic versions of “Can I” and “Didn’t We” are highlights. Its follow-up People … Hold On in 1972, featuring “Girl, You Need A Change Of Mind” and “Date With The Rain,” hits the new underground dance scene.
- Eddie Kendricks (1973) capitalizes on the flourishing urban R&B scene and “Keep On Truckin’” makes the top pop slot, while “Darling Come Back Home” is a ballad hit.
- Boogie Down! is another hit LP while For You, also issued in 1974, features the No. 1 R&B hit “Shoeshine Boy.” The Hit Man (1975), his last album with the successful production team of Frank Wilson and Leonard Caston, includes the top 10 R&B hits “Get The Cream Off The Top” and “Happy.”
- He’s A Friend, featuring the quietly religious hit title track disguised as a floor stomper, is recorded at Sigma Sound, Philadelphia with Norman Harris and key T.S.O.P. rhythm players. Goin’ Up in Smoke, also issued in 1976, maintains that formula.
- Eddie’s final Tamla album Slick is less successful but the track “Intimate Friends,” originally a no. 24 R&B hit, is revived in 2005 as sampled in “Unbreakable” by Alicia Keys. He will record for Arista, Atlantic and RCA, and among shows together performs at Live Aid in Philadelphia with Hall & Oates and Tempts’ colleague David Ruffin.
- His death in 1992 aged only 52 robs us of a great soul voice whose work has been sampled by Ice Cube, Lil Wayne, Nas, Erykah Badu and hundreds more.