The Firing of David Ruffin from the Temptations

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by IamGroot, Jan 5, 2019.

  1. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    How is this for band drama

    By 1967, David Ruffin had begun demanding special treatment as lead singer, riding to and from gigs in a private mink-lined limousine with his then-girlfriend, Motown singer Tammi Terrell, instead of in the group limousine used by the other four Temptations. The other members slowly became irritated and annoyed with Ruffin's behavior. Following Motown's decision to rechristen the Supremes as Diana Ross & the Supremes, Ruffin felt entitled to the same treatment and demanded that his group be renamed as well, to David Ruffin & the Temptations. Ruffin was also causing friction with Berry Gordy by demanding an accounting of the group's earnings;[19] Motown partially acquiesced by allowing the Temptations to retain an outside accounting firm, but the firm did not have full access to the books from the Temptations' manager, International Talent Management, Inc. - a subsidiary of Motown.[19]

    Some of this behavior was attributed to the fact that by this time Ruffin had begun using cocaine regularly, building further tension within the group and causing him to miss a number of group meetings, rehearsals, and concerts. There was a consensus among the rest of the group that Ruffin needed to be replaced. When Ruffin missed a June 1968 engagement at a Cleveland supper club in order to attend a show by his new girlfriend, Barbara Gail Martin (daughter of Dean Martin),[20] the group decided that he had crossed the line. The other four Temptations drew up legal documentation, officially firing Ruffin on June 27, 1968.[21] The next day, Dennis Edwards, a singer formerly of the Contours that Eddie Kendricks and Otis Williams already had pegged as a potential Ruffin replacement,[22] was hired to take Ruffin's place.

    Edwards and Ruffin were good friends, and at first, Ruffin went along with the changing of the guard and encouraged Edwards. However, at Edwards' official debut with the Temptations in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on July 7, Ruffin came to the show and jumped onstage, taking the microphone from Edwards, singing lead on "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," and disappearing as quickly as he had appeared.[23] Ruffin repeated this stunt several times throughout the group's July tour run. Despite the group hiring extra security to keep Ruffin out, he continued to find ways to sneak into the venue and jump onstage when the group performed one of the songs he had once sung lead on.[23]

    In a story recounted several times by Dennis Edwards,[22] (rebutted by Otis Williams and Temptations road manager Don Foster),[24] after several of these stunts, the positive audience reactions and a remorseful Ruffin's pleas to be let back into the act convinced the other Temptations to do so. Otis Williams informed the then still-new Edwards that the group would lay him off and rehire Ruffin while in Gaithersburg, Maryland. However, when Ruffin failed to show up on time the next night for his "return" engagement, the group kept Edwards on and ceased to entertain the prospect of rehiring Ruffin.[22][24]

    After Gaithersburg, Ruffin stopped attempting to disrupt the Temptations' concerts and instead turned his attention to the Motown offices back in Detroit. He sued Motown in October 1968, seeking a release from the label, but Motown countersued to keep the singer from leaving and the case was eventually settled out of court.[25] The settlement required Ruffin to remain with Motown as a solo artist to finish out his contract.[25]
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Nothing new here. This info has been out for years. Ruffin was a supremely (sorry for the pun) talented singer. But between his ego and drug issues, was given far more chances than he deserved. Unlike Ross, who had some of the same issues, Ruffin didn't have the chance to sleep with Gordy.
    Jhengsman and Clark Dark like this.
  3. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    I spent time last night getting that great groove for "Poppa was a rolling stone" ingrained and was floored again by their talent and great stage moves. So I Wikied...

    Btw, the hits are on the & of 4 and the 2.
    Oddly likes this.
  4. strat59


    Jul 24, 2018
    love the movie...

    if i'm channel surfing and i come across it, i'll end up watching it again for like the 50th time
    Border, buldog5151bass and IamGroot like this.
  5. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Thanks, another movie I have to go see.
    strat59 likes this.
  6. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    The Dennis Edwards era was better anyway.
    DWBass likes this.
  7. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
    @mellowinman, I disagree. When you consider the Temps were in their heyday with Ruffin, check out the Temps in a mellow (heh heh heh) mood. If I remember correctly Edwards breakout Temps LP A Song For You (1975) which had hits all over it still wasn't commensurate with Ruffins studio and stage work. David was vicious (as a vocalist) and selfish unfortunately too. It was a shame to wake up one morning and hear that they found him dead in a West Phila. crack house.
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    ha! well, i'm gonna go with Clark Dark on that one. i liked all of it, but i'd give ruffin the 'edge' award. saw them both: great shows, great memories.

    as for the OP: i heard (read?) all of that when it was happening, but like so many things --- forgot all about it and only remember the temptations as being one of the 'greatest of all time' acts in their prime.
  9. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Add in the fact they had to have Richard Street stand backstage and sing Paul Williams's lines when PW was so strung out they had to turn his mic off. So talented a group, but so #_-_#@ed up.
  10. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    mellowinman likes this.
  11. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    The ego, the dope, the disrupting chicks, and any number of other personal foibles are one thing, broadly and grudgingly tolerated in a big group with lots of mo-nay on the line.

    But . . . . . . .

    You start not making shows, and burn your bridges with the promoters? ? ? ? You are as dead as King Tut, and yourself will be dealt with quickly with great prejudice as everybody ELSE is now losing money, their throats cut by your personal indiscretions. When they say, 'You'll Never Work in This Town Again', and they can make it stick, you can stick a fork in your hindmost parts, you are d-o-n-e. Promoters have long, long, long memories.

    And too, the muzik bidness is full of crash-and-burn stories, lots of them where a group gets hot, and all the voices start inflating the front man like the Goodyear Blimp ego-wise: 'You're the star, you don't need them'.
    In a few cases the individual carries on just fine, but more often than not, the original group (with a replacement) and the 'star' (with a backing band), both end up on the rocks.

    Ruffin overplayed his hand badly. He had two of a kind when he called, and found the dealer had two Kings and a pair of aces. See Ya'.
  12. 80jazz


    Jun 28, 2008
    If I am not mistaken, he died in a hospital.
  13. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    David Ruffin's Sad Finale

    ".....:police say he passed out early on the morning of June 1 after smoking crack at a house in West Philadelphia.

    Investigators are still trying to piece together the 50-year-old Ruffin's last hours. An estimated $40,000 he was carrying when he was stricken has disappeared. Linster (Butch) Murrell, a friend who lent Ruffin the limousine on the evening of May 31, says Ruffin drove off with a man named Donald Brown. Police believe Ruffin purchased cocaine somewhere and took it to the West Philadelphia house to smoke. Ruffin and another occupant of the house reportedly shared 10 vials of crack in less than a half hour, an enormous intake, experts say. Brown drove Ruffin to the hospital and returned the limo to Murrell. Police questioned Brown twice but have not charged him with a crime. Ruffin's death is listed as accidental."

    David Ruffin - Wikipedia

    After a successful month-long tour of England with Kendricks and Edwards, David Ruffin died on June 1, 1991, in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hospital of "an adverse reaction to drugs" – namely cocaine. Although the cause of death was ruled an accident,[26] Ruffin's family and friends suspected foul play, claiming that a money belt containing the proceeds from the tour ($300,000) was missing from his body.[27] He had just finished recording the single "Hurt the One You Love" for Motorcity Records.

    In The Temptations television mini-series, Ruffin's beaten body is depicted as being dumped in the street in front of a hospital where he dies. It was also stated in the mini-series that his body remained unclaimed in a morgue for a week after his death. As a result, Ruffin's estate filed suit against NBC and other major players involved in the making of the series, claiming defamation. According to the plaintiffs in the case, Ruffin was actually taken to the hospital by a limousine and was escorted to the waiting area by his driver, who informed the attendants of his identity. The Ruffin children further stated that his body was claimed by one of them within a few days of his death. Ruffin's estate lost the lawsuit, and the ruling against it was upheld on appeal.[28]
  14. What a waste. All of that talent. Sickening.
    IamGroot likes this.
  15. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005

    The crack house was in the 5100 blk of Jefferson St in the Parkside section of west Phila. I lived on Lancaster Ave, (a block away) at the time and can say that he passed away in that house from an overdose (neighbors talk) and when he was dropped off at the hospital it was for the formality of declaring him dead.
    Oddly and IamGroot like this.
  16. 80jazz


    Jun 28, 2008
    Ahh. That would explain that then.
  17. marmadaddy

    marmadaddy Supporting Member

    Oct 17, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    "Cool Story Bro" time.
    Contains Temptations and bass related content as well as unprovable braggadocio.

    I believe that I was the first person to tell the Temptations about "Standing In the Shadows of Motown".
    It's late 1989, early 1990. I was tending bar at the long since closed Stage Deli in Boston. The restaurant and bar were attached to the Tremont House hotel in the Theater District. Lots of celebrities and entertainment business type guests.

    One day after the lunch rush, I'm all alone in the bar area cleaning and restocking things and five middle aged guys in really nice track suits and a good amount of tasteful gold jewelry sit down at the bar. Clearly these guys are entertainers. When you work in a place that serves celebrities you don't bring up their work or their fame unless they do first. You just don't. You do your job and leave them alone. These guys, however, were friendly and talkative, especially one guy with a really deep voice. After a few minutes of chit chat I said something like "Alright, I'm not supposed to do this, but I know I should know who you are and I can't figure it out and it's driving me nuts."

    After a pause, the man with the deep voice says "We're the Temptations". I almost peed myself and said something like "Oh my God, you're Melvin Franklin". This gets a big smile. He probably didn't get that level of recognition from random skinny young white guys* all that often. We get to talking some more about why they're in town (private corporate gig, jokes about someone's wife needing a new Mercedes and someone else's needing more jewelry.) Standard bartender/customer stuff and they really are just super nice guys.

    I get asked if I do anything else beside tend bar and I tell them that I'm a bass player. Mr. Franklin says "I'm a bass singer, that makes us brothers." I actually pee myself at this.

    I then say that I'm a fan of James Jamerson. They all act really surprised, even Otis Williams who's been pretty quiet up until this point. Mr. Franklin asks "How do you know about Jamerson?" I'll never forget the disbelief in his voice and on his face when he asked that. Bear in mind that this is all before the mass media about the Funk Brothers. At this time, no one outside of Motown had heard about the Funk Brothers. No one.

    I explain I have this book called "Standing In the Shadows of Motown" (The link is for the version with CDs, mine had cassettes) that's a tribute to Jamerson with recordings and comments by famous bass players. They're super interested to hear about it. The fact that I knew who Jamerson was and was able to name some of their songs he had played on (Ain't To Proud to Beg, Get Ready) really surprised them in the best possible way. This led to one of the greatest afternoons of my life where I, an audience of one, got to stand two feet away from THE TEMPTATIONS listening to story after story about what it was like recording with the Funk Brothers and the early days of Motown.

    You may now refer to me as Mr. marmadaddy.

    *I am no longer skinny or young. Other attributes remain consistent.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
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    Just saw "Ain't To Proud To Beg" on Broadway last night. It was awesome! It followed the movie closely. The thing that really amazes me is how nobody ever makes a discernible performance mistake.

    The bass chair is being handled by George Farmer and he kills it! I read that he ices down his arm after every performance.
  19. 51PRI


    Aug 7, 2014
    How do you know?:cool:

    Highway 101!
  20. jblock


    Mar 20, 2004
    Some real gems in his solo catalog. “Pieces of a Man”!