Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Temptations — first-hand

“The Temptations still stand today, not in spite of those who left us, but because of them.” — Otis Williams

WHEN I discovered R&B music in college, I knew I'd found my groove — and The Temptations were a powerful throb of that sound's beating heart. They were one of the most iconic and popular music groups of the 1960s and 70s, and in fact, in the entire panoply of rock and roll.

Rolling Stone agrees. It lists them at #68 of the 100 most influential artists of the rock and roll era, and Billboard ranks them as #28 on its list of The Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Artists. They've won seven Grammy Awards, had four Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles, fourteen R&B number-one singles, and three of their classic songs, My Girl, Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) and Papa Was a Rollin' Stone, are among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

And Paul, lucky Paul, got to play with them Friday night, August 12, in Cedar Rapids and the next night in Des Moines at the Iowa State Fair. I got to tag along.

Below is the story of those two days and nights in pictures.

Cedar Rapids rehearsal was in the historic and gorgeous Paramount Theater.

Sound check a few hours later. Left to right: Allen Cordingley, lead alto; Paul, lead trombone, Dave Sharp, tenor sax; Ken Kilian, bari sax; Mike Chesher, 2nd alto; Joel Nagel, 2nd trombone. 
Lynn Hart booked the horn section in Cedar Rapids.

In the break between sound check and performance, Paul took a nap in the car, and I walked around the Lindale Mall so as not to disturb him. Paul finished napping, found me, and we're walking along in the mall when I saw this SAME GUY that I photographed in Des Moines two weeks before! I stopped him and asked if he'd been at Jason's Deli on such and such a date. I KNEW he had been (you have to admit he has a rather indelible face), but I wanted to know if he was from Cedar Rapids visiting Des Moines, or vice versa — so I'd know where to avoid. (Cedar Rapids.) He weirded me out the first time I saw him and it really, really, REALLY weirded me out to see him a second time. I mean what are the odds of the only time I've ever been in the Lindale Mall in my life to be walking along and see this guy — AGAIN. I kept telling Paul that his picture didn't do him justice, and when Paul saw him in person, he said, "I get it now."
The concert was a doubleheader with The Temptations, followed by The Beach Boys
Some audience members arrived dressed to party like it was 1968.
It poured buckets on the drive from Des Moines to Cedar Rapids. By rehearsal it had quit. It began looking stormy again, but it didn't rain until at sound check when — as God is my witness, not to mention the entire horn section — they ran through I Wish It Would Rain, whereupon it did! It quit again, then began looking increasingly worse, but miraculously (wait a minute, wrong group) it didn't rain again, and the concert went ahead as planned. Well almost as planned, except for missing Ron Tyson whose plane was delayed.

Mark LiebermanThe Temptations' production manager who travels everywhere with them, was like some kind of ninja — everywhere at once, while at the same time almost invisible. The show literally would not go on without him. I found him and his work so intriguing that I asked him, and he's agreed to be, 
my first HLSS one-person interview. Look for it soon.

Temptations musical director McKinley Jackson conducting rehearsal for the Des Moines show. In addition to being an excellent musical director, he's a gentleman through and through. Back row left to right: Derek Stratton, Andy Classen, Greg Warthen, Paul, Richard Early. Front row: Wayne Page, Clarence Padilla, Robert Espe, Dan Stevenson, who's president of the Des Moines Musicians's Union and booked the horns, and John Morgan.

The Des Moines show was part of the Iowa State Fair lineup. Left to right: Adrian Williams on guitar, Otis Williams (the one remaining ORIGINAL member of the Temptations), Larry BraggsTheron Derrick on drums, Kerry Truman on bass, Terry Weeks and Ron Tyson

Veteran Temptations member Ron Tyson on the left, musical director McKinley Jackson on the right. In the background the local horn section left to right: Derek Stratton, Clarence Padilla, Robert Espe, Greg Warthen, Paul, John Morgan and (partially obscured) Richard Early.

Musical director McKinley Jackson with left to right: Paul, John Morgan and Richard Early.

Left to right: Don Wyatt on keyboards, bass singer Willie Green, who has recorded and performing with Lyle Lovett, Dolly Parton, John Fogerty and George Harrison, Adrian Williams on guitar and Otis Williams.

Left: Terry Weeks has been with The Temptations for 19 years. Right: Two-time, Grammy-nominated singer Larry Braggs was the lead singer with the Tower of Power for 13 years. Theron Derrick on drums.

Kerry Truman on bass and Terry Weeks. 

Tenor and falsetto singer Ron Tyson has been with The Temptations for more than 30 years.
He took over for Eddie Kendricks who helped take the group to fame in the 1960s.

Left to right: Willie Green, guitarist Adrian Williams, Otis Williams and Ron Tyson. Their performance at the Iowa State Fair was over-flowing full. It was an outdoor show, but people packed onto the grounds so densely till they ran up against another (distant) building.

At the conclusion of this post, is The Temptations' upcoming schedule so that you can catch them yourself, but for my overseas readers who might not have a sense of how completely iconic Motown music and this group were, I'm listing their Grammy Awards and their uber-famous songs that heavily influenced the course of rock and roll.

Grammy Awards

1969  Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals – Cloud Nine

1973  Best R&B Instrumental Performance – Papa Was a Rolling Stone

1973  Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals – Papa Was a Rolling Stone

1998  Hall of Fame Award – My Girl

1999  Hall of Fame Award – Papa Was a Rolling Stone

2001  Best Traditional R&B Performance – Ear-Resistible

2013  Lifetime Achievement Award

From Wikipedia: The following singles reached the Top Ten of the United States pop singles chart or the United Kingdom pop singles chart or No. 1 on the US R&B chart.

1965:  My Girl

1966:  Get Ready
1966:  Ain't Too Proud to Beg
1966:  Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
1966:  (I Know) I'm Losing You
1967:  All I Need
1967:  You're My Everything
1967:  I Wish It Would Rain
1968:  I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)
1968:  Cloud Nine
1968:  I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (Diana Ross & the Supremes and the Temptations)
1969:  Run Away Child, Running Wild
1969:  I Can't Get Next to You
1970:  Psychedelic Shack
1970:  Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)
1971:  Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)
1972:  Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
1973:  Masterpiece
1973:  Let Your Hair Down
1974:  Happy People
1975:  Shakey Ground
1991:  The Motown Song (Rod Stewart featuring the Temptations)
1992:  My Girl

Upcoming Schedule for The Temptations

08/20/16  Beaverton, OR — Howard M. Terpenning Recreation Complex

08/21/16  Pasadena, CA — The Rose

08/25/16  Moncton, NB — Molson Canadian Centre at Casino New Brunswick

08/27/16  Cohasset, MA — South Shore

08/28/16  Hyannis, MA — Cape Co Melody Tent

08/31/16  Bronx, NY —  Loreto Park

09/02/16  Biloxi, MS — IP Casino Resort & Spa

09/29/16  San Diego, CA — Humphrey’s Concerts By the Bay

09/30/16  West Wendover, NV — Peppermill Hotel Casino

10/01/16  Las Vegas, NV — The Orleans Hotel & Casino

10/02/16  Las Vegas, NV — The Orleans Hotel & Casino

10/07/16  Youngstown, OH — Edward W. Powers Auditorium

10/09/16  Atlantic City, NJ — Borgata Event Center

10/13/16  Greeneville, TN — Niswonger PAC

10/15/16  Lisle, IL — Benedictine University, Goodwin Hall

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