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History and hip-hop with The Temptations

John Benson • Nov 10, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Want to go?

• WHAT: The Temptations

• WHEN: 8 p.m. Nov. 11

• WHERE: Sandusky State Theatre, 107 Columbus Ave., Sandusky

• COST: $36.50-82 (show only); $55-100.50 (dinner and show)

• INFO: 419-626-1347 or sanduskystate.com

Similar to ESPN celebrating itself with ESPY Awards or 24-hour-a-day news channels patting themselves on the back, the baby boomer generation loves nothing more than walking down memory lane. Perhaps on the surface it’s the latter that appears to be taking place when The Temptations bring its legendary smooth sound to the Go Coast for a show Nov. 11 at the State Theatre in Sandusky.

The Motown act carries with it quite a repertoire of hits - “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “My Girl,” “It’s Growing,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep” and “I Wish It Would Rain” - that stand the test of time.

We talked to founding member Otis Williams — the only original member still in the quintet — about the group’s history, his opinion of hip-hop and the future of the group.

Funcoast: With dozens of albums under your belt, why did The Temptations release a new album (“Still Here”) last spring?

Otis Williams: We just don’t want to rest on our laurels. We want to stay (relevant) today as well as being known for the earlier hits. We don’t want to say we don’t need to record no more. We like to always stay on the cutting edge and always offer our fans something fresh and brand new. So the new album is the group doing what we do. There are just songs of what The Tempts are. There’s this dance craze that’s been going on for this group called the steppers, so we designed a few songs for them and then there are nice, sweet, sultry ballads and up-tempo tunes. We also have one or two message songs, so it’s keeping up with what the Tempts have been known for.

FC: The one thing The Temptations have always been known for is creating clean pop music. Was the act ever tempted to digress into more mature themes?

OW: No, that’s one surefire way of us losing our fanbase. For example, trying to come out with the hip-hop. And I’m not knocking hip-hop, some of that I like. There’s some rap I like but great songs with great melodies and great lyrics structured right will stand the test of time. And here it is 50 years for the Temptations come January, so you’re talking about an entity that is known for great music and a high standard of quality.

FC: If we may ask, who in the rap world do you enjoy?

OW: I like Will Smith because when he does something, it’s clean and un-offensive. I listened to Biggie Smalls. I liked what he was doing. Some of the things he was saying, I heard the rapping but he was very lyrical and rhythm-y. I liked Tupac. He reminded me of a rapper who could sing. He had flowing kind of stuff. And I liked The Sugarhill Gang because they were the ones who started it all with their big hit in the ‘80s. So there are a few I like but I can’t rattle off too many.

FC: Are there any contemporary acts carrying on the tradition of The Temptations?

OW: No, no, no. It’s almost like a lost art to find a four- or five-part harmony group that’s singing and dancing. There’s no one like the Temptations, O’Jays, Four Tops. People ask me why aren’t there any groups and maybe it’s because guys don’t want to deal with different personalities and would rather just get out there and do their own thing.

FC: At the age of 69, how long can you continue touring? Will the act continue on without you in the future?

OW: I feel good. I’m still relatively a young man so I’m going to keep on doing it. But I do get told by people all the time, “Otis, if you’re not there than it will be just five guys on the stage and it won’t have the same kind of meaning.” So we’ll have to figure that out.

FC: Finally, what do you hope the legacy is of the Temptations?

OW: Our music is timeless and boundless. I think the legacy of The Temptations will touch on so many things, so many different people. But I always like to think of that great show that was on during the ‘70s called “That’s Entertainment.” I like for the people to think about The Temptations and say, “That’s


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