Some significant artists and songs for this year of Motown…
David Ruffin (Davis Eli Ruffin 1941 – 1991 ) was an American soul singer born in Whynot, Mississippi who is most famous for his stellar work as lead singer of “The Temptations” from 1964 to 1968. His gruff, gospel inflected voice was featured on numerous soul hits like”Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”, “Since I Lost My Baby”, “My Girl” and “I Wish It Would Rain”.
His skyrocketing solo career was soon tempered by a dark side he could not control, and his life ended tragically of drug overdose in a seedy Philadelphia tenement.
He started his professional musical career as a teen traveling with The Dixie Nightingales, out of Memphis, Tennessee and eventually he and his brother, Jimmy Ruffin, found their way to Detroit and, by age 17, they were accepted into the fledgling Motown family by Berry Gordy.
Opportunity arose for David to join the Temptations in 1964, with Ruffin taking lead vocals on the huge hit My Girl. With fellow lead vocalist Eddie Kendricks and talented Motown songwriters and Gordy’s promo machine backing them, they were unstoppable.
Ruffin however soon began showing ego problems, showing up late in his own limo, and demanding the group be known as David Ruffin & The Temptations.
By 1969, the often erratic and high, Ruffin had been voted out of the Temps, and started his solo career with the hit “My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)”.
My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me): David Ruffin/release/1/20/69 Pop #9 R&B # 2
After a successful month-long tour of England with Kendricks and Edwards, Ruffin collapsed on June 1, 1991 in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania crack house after sharing ten vials with a friend in under half an hour. Although the cause of death was ruled an accidental overdose of cocaine, Ruffin’s family and friends suspected foul play, claiming that a money belt containing the proceeds from the tour ($40,000) was missing from his body. He had just finished recording the single “Hurt the One You Love” for Motorcity Records.
In The Temptations television miniseries, Ruffin’s beaten body is depicted being thrown from a moving car in front of a hospital where he dies. Also stated in the mini-series, his body remained unclaimed in a morgue for a week after his death. As a result, Ruffin’s estate filed suit against NBC and other major players involved in the making of the series claiming defamation. According to the plaintiffs in the case Ruffin was actually taken to the hospital by a limousine and was escorted to the waiting area by his driver who informed the attendants of his identity. The Ruffin children further state that his body was claimed by one of them within a few days after his death.
Other Great Hits of 1969…
I can’t get next to You: The Temptations/Release/7/30/69 Pop # 1 R&B # 1
Junior Walker & The All-Stars - What Does It Take
Twenty-Five Miles: Edwin Starr/release/1/2/69 Pop 6 R&B # 6
I Want You Back: The Jackson 5/Release/10/7/69 Pop # 1 R&B # 1