Eddie Kendricks the falsetto of the Temptations

Eddie Kendricks was born as Edward James Kendrick on December 17, 1939, and died on October 5, 1992. he was an American singer and songwriter. Noted for his distinctive falsetto singing style, Kendricks co-founded the Motown singing group The Temptations and was one of their lead singers from 1960 until 1971.

His was the lead voice on such famous songs as “The Way You Do the Things You Do”, “Get Ready”, and “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)”. As a solo artist, Kendricks recorded several hits of his own during the 1970s, including the number-one single “Keep on Truckin'”.

In Union Springs, Alabama is where Kendricks was born. The son of Johnny and Lee Bell Kendrick. He had one sister, Patricia, and three brothers, Charles, Robert, and Clarence. His family moved to the Ensley neighborhood of Birmingham, where he met and began singing with his best friend Paul Williams in their church choir in the late 1940s.

In 1955, Kendricks, Williams, and friends Kell Osborne and Jerome Averette formed a doo-wop group called The Cavaliers and began performing around Birmingham. The group decided to move for better opportunities in their musical careers, and in 1957 the group moved to Cleveland, Ohio on E 123rd and Kinsman.

In Cleveland, they met manager Milton Jenkins, and soon moved with Jenkins to Detroit, Michigan, where the Cavaliers renamed themselves “The Primes.” Under Jenkins’ management, the Primes were successful in the Detroit area, eventually creating a female spin-off group called The Primettes.

In 1961, Osbourne moved to California, and the Primes disbanded. Kendricks and Paul Williams joined forces with members Otis Williams and Melvin “Blue” Franklin of Otis Williams and the Distance after three members quit and became The Elgins, who on the same day changed their name to “The Temptations” and signed to Motown.

He also leads on “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” (1968), a popular duet with Diana Ross and the Supremes, and on the Temptations’ famous version of the Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1968).

In the Temptations, Kendricks was responsible for creating most of the group’s vocal arrangements, and also served as wardrobe manager, including the now-famous purple suits the group wore for one performance. Kendricks died of lung cancer in Birmingham on October 5, 1992, at age 52. He was survived by his three children: Parris, Aika, and Paul Kendricks. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama.

Kendricks remained in the group through the rest of the decade, but a number of issues began to push him away from it in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was uncomfortable with singing the psychedelic style that Whitfield was now crafting for the group as opposed to the romantic ballads they had sung under the direction of Smokey Robinson; his friend Paul Williams was often too ill to perform with the group; and Kendricks often found himself at odds with bandmates Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin. As he grew away from the group, Kendricks began to rekindle his friendship with ex-Temptation David Ruffin, who convinced him to leave.

While working on his first solo album, Kendricks recorded one last hit single with the Temptations, 1971’s “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)”. By the time the record reached #1 on the US pop charts in April 1971, Kendricks had signed a solo deal with Motown’s Tamla imprint and was preparing the release of his first solo album, All By Myself. However, many of his problems with Motown would reoccur.

His first solo effort here, April 1971's 'All By Myself' features a very beautiful "I Did It All For You," a Temptations-reminiscent "It's So Hard For Me To Say Good-Bye," and the stellar closing ballad, "Didn't We," a Jimmy Webb-penned track that will live forever, and Eddie is one of the great versions, alongside other impassioned versions by Barbra, Frank, Engelbert, Diana Ross and The Supremes