After watching the "Unsung" special on Johnny Gill, I was reminded once again of how and why I have such an affinity for New Edition. But that pales in comparison to the infatuation I have with the group that spearheaded the way for groups like NE. If it weren't for the Temptations, the New Editions would have no bar to which they could measure. But unfortunately, the more time that passes, the fewer Temptations we still have around. And losing two in one month was NOT good.
The first to go was Otis "Damon" Harris. He passed away February 18th after losing his battle with prostate cancer. He was 62-years-old.
That name didn't ring a bell with me as far as Tempts singers go. When I looked him up, the face didn't either. I had to read the bio to find out more about where he fell in the Temptations lineage. Turns out he was the one that ended up taking Eddie Kendricks' place when he left the group. I had no idea. I thought that was that one light-skinned cat who I remember from their 80s line-up. Guess I was wrong.
After finding getting more clarification on which one Damon was, I felt a little bad for him. Not for the cancer part because obviously that sucked. I mean having to follow in the footsteps of Kendricks. Let's face it..Dennis Edwards did a decent enough job filling that void that David Ruffin left, but NOBODY could do that tenor falsetto like Kendricks. He was in a tough spot from the beginning. And now he's reunited with the man who laid that foundation.
Now his name I recalled as soon as I heard it. Mainly because I've seen that "Temptations" movie more times than I can count. I clearly remember that he was the one that stepped in when Paul Williams left the group because of his trouble with alcohol addiction. Richard was actually one of the original Temptations who was with the group even before the Paul and Eddie came on board. For those of you aren't up on your Motown history (the Temptations in particular) you will have to forgive me as I geek out on all of this.
If I'm not mistaken, I remember Richard into the 80s as well. It's not as though he had a lead voice that made him memorable, but his face was. I can see his big smile getting it in that "Standing on the Top" video that remains one of my all-time favorite Temptations cuts. I have to keep reminding myself that he and the other Tempts would have been around my current age at that time and they were straight groovin'!
All I keep thinking about whenever another Temptations passes is Otis is STILL there. And not just that he's still with us, but he's still performing with the group. He's the last original Temptation and he seems to be outliving them all. Although it would be terrible to keep watching your friends pass away, it's got to be a good feeling to know that he's part of a legacy that will continue to live on forever. Even after he's gone.
Rest in peace, Temptations.