Taking the Temptations Review around the world, Dennis Edwards said he enjoys spreading the Motown sound of which he was part in the 1960s and ’70s and “keeping it together” for future generations to enjoy.
Having just returned Monday from a European tour, he and the rest of the Temptations tribute quintet will close the Beach Music Festival at 9:15 p.m. Saturday on Myrtle Beach’s Ocean Boulevard, between Eighth and Ninth avenues North. The fest, 5:30-10:30 p.m., celebrates the 75th anniversaries of the city of Myrtle Beach and the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Edwards, inducted in 1989 with the Temptations into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, helped take the group into new turf after succeeding David Ruffin on lead vocals in 1968. His voice gave an edge to such numbers as “Cloud Nine,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today),” and “Psychedelic Shack.”
As a member of the Temptations, whose many other hits included “My Girl” and “Get Ready” – both written and produced by William “Smokey” Robinson – “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me),” Edwards looked back, treasuring his role with the group in Motown Records’ heyday in Detroit.
“Time has made me appreciate my place as an artist in this business,” he said.
Another smash on which he sang lead, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” with its bass and hi-hat-tapping introduction, ran almost seven minutes as a single, also with Edwards’ edge on lead. The song was part of a new chapter the Temptations took after production shifted to the late Norman Whitfield, with music and words that reflected the times.
Asked for what Motown Records colleague outside the Temptations became his biggest influence, Edwards brought up one of The Funk Brothers, the Detroit-based session musicians who laid down Motown grooves from 1959 into the ‘70s and were the subject of the movie “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” in 2002.
“Someone who made a difference and whom I’ve never forgotten is James Jamerson,” Edwards said, praising the founding bass guitarist for Motown’s “Hitsville” studio.
Jamerson, a Charleston native recognized as a pioneer on bass, gained his own Rock Hall induction posthumously in 2000.
The Temptations made two studio Christmas albums – “Christmas Card” and “Give Love at Christmas,” from 1970 and ’80, respectively – each with a different version of “Silent Night,” the first with the late Eddie Kendricks singing lead. Then recording that song the second time around, each Temptation took a turn on lead, with the late Melvin Franklin giving the parting words, “Merry Christmas from the Temptations.”
Edwards said called both projects “a joy” to record.
“I don’t think we knew they would last this long,” he said.
The 2013 presentation of the concert “A Capitol Fourth” broadcast on PBS included a set by the Broadway cast of “Motown: the Musical.” Reacting to how this new show brings back Motown classics and the background into making acts such as the Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and the Four Tops, Miracles, Supremes, Temptations and Vandellas stars nationwide and globally, Edwards sees the play, with ensembles in New York and Chicago, as another avenue to not only to share the Motown sound with younger fans, but let older adults relive memories and good times.
“Reprising the Motown classics by the youth of today helps keep all of our fans young,” said Edwards, 70.