The Temptations & Four Tops
December 5, 2012
For more than forty years, The Temptations have prospered, propelling popular music with a series of smash hits, and sold-out performances throughout the world. “The crowds are bigger, the sales are sizzling,” says one industry report. “The outpouring of affection for this super-group has never been greater.” The history of The Temptations is the history of contemporary American pop. An essential component of the original Motown machine, The Temps began their musical life in Detroit in the early sixties. It wasn’t until 1964 however, that the Smokey Robinson written-and-produced “The Way You Do the Things You Do” turned the guys into stars. An avalanche of hits followed, many of which...”My Girl,” for instance...attained immortality. “It’s Growing,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Beauty Is only Skin Deep,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “Cloud Nine”...the hits kept coming. Beyond the fabulous singing, The Temps became known for smooth stepping and flawless presentations. The “Temptations’ Walk” became a staple of American style; Flair, flash and class. Millions of fans are a testament to the fact that The Temptations are indeed true cultural heroes.
The quartet, originally called the “Four Aims,” spent seven years on the road and in nightclubs, singing pop, blues, Broadway, but mostly jazz—four-part harmony jazz before Motown’s Berry Gordy Jr. signed them without an audition. Their first Motown hit, “Baby I Need Your Loving” in 1964, made them stars and their sixties track record on the label is indispensable to any retrospective of the decade. Their songs, soulful and bittersweet, were across-the-board successes. “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” a no. 1 R&B and Pop smash in 1965, is one of Motown’s longest-running chart toppers; it was quickly followed by a longtime favorite, “It’s The Same Old Song” (no. 2 R&B/no. 5 pop). Their commercial peak was highlighted by a romantic trilogy: the no. 1 “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” “Standing In The Shadows Of Love” (no. 2 R&B/no. 6 pop) and “Bernadette” (no. 3 R&B/no. 4 pop)—an extraordinary run of instant classics. They kept up a string of hits throughout the seventies as well with hits like “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got),” “Keeper Of The Castle, ” When She Was My Girl” and “Are You Man Enough” (from the movie “Shaft In Africa”) among others. In 1990, with 24 Top 40 pop hits to their credit, the Four Tops were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Though they would no longer have hits on record, the group continued to be a hit in concert, touring incessantly, a towering testament to the enduring legacy of the Motown Sound they helped shape and define.