David Ruffin

As front man of the legendary Motown group The Temptations during their peak years, David Ruffin's powerful, emotive voice graced some of the great soul-pop hits of the 1960s, including the timeless classic 'My Girl'. Born in rural Mississippi, Ruffin grew up singing as part of the family gospel choir and shared bills with Mahalia Jackson before leaving home at 14 with the aim of following in his father's footsteps and becoming a baptist minister. His plans changed though when he got to Memphis and started winning local talent contests; and his natural showmanship led him to join the vocal group The Dixie Nightingales in the late 1950s. After touring as a back-up singer for several acts, he ended up moving to Detroit, where he met Motown founder Berry Gordy and helped to construct the label's Hitsville USA studio. Joining The Temptations in 1964 as a tenor, Ruffin was pushed into singing lead when Smokey Robinson penned 'My Girl' specifically for him. The dreamy, doo-wop singalong reached number one in the US and became a soul standard that remains hugely popular today, while the band went on to sell tens of millions of records and win four Grammy Awards. Ruffin would also sing lead vocals on their hits 'My Baby', 'Ain't Too Proud to Beg', 'You're My Everything' and 'I Wish It Would Rain', but he was forced to leave the band in 1968 when his cocaine addiction began to spiral out of control. A mixed solo career began with the album 'My Whole World Ended' and he scored the UK top ten single 'Walk Away from Love' in 1976; but as trends moved towards funk and disco, his later records 'Everything's Coming Up Love' and 'In My Stride' struggled to make an impact. A live album with Hall & Oates and Eddie Kendricks recorded at the Apollo Theatre in 1985 was a welcome reminder of his huge talent and influence, and they performed together again at the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia. Sadly his drug problems returned and in 1991 he died from an overdose at the age of 50.

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