The 50th anniversary of the Temptations — the name Temptations, at least — is passing without much commemoration this year. But Otis Williams, the group’s sole surviving founding member and still its leader, says he certainly feels the passage of time.
“It feels like 50 years,” Williams, 69, says of the quintet that began as the Elgins in 1960, changed its name the following year and went on to win four Grammy Awards and be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “When I stop and think back, it’s 50 years and it feels like that. We’re still having fun, but when I go back in time I say, ‘Wow, that’s a long time to be doing something.’
“We figured what we wanted to do was have hit records. We wanted to be around as long as we could be. We wanted to make records and become successful and make money, so we didn’t put any time limit on it. Whenever we would look around it would be five years, then another five years ... and, bam, it’s 50 years later.”
The Temptations are hardly living solely on their considerable laurels, however — including 18 chart-topping Billboard pop and R&B singles. Williams predicts that the current Tempts will record a new album, a follow-up to 2010’s “Still Here,” for release in 2012. But even more exciting is a Temptations-themed musical on Broadway that will be adapted from the 1998 NBC miniseries based on the group’s story and will likely open after a Motown musical that label founder Berry Gordy Jr. is developing for an April 2012 debut.
“It stems from the miniseries being so popular; I get calls all the time — ‘man, the miniseries is on again!’” Williams says. “I never would have imagined that it would ever come to the possibility of the Tempts’ life story going to Broadway, but it’s wonderful.
“So we’re just waiting for Mr. Gordy to complete his and make his debut, and then after that the Temptations play will get into action.”
The Temptations and the Spinners perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 7, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $10-$32.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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