When the Temptations return to Detroit, more often than not it's co-billed with Motown compadres the Four Tops.
So what's with playing with the Beach Boys this summer?
"My manger told me he had this idea way back in 1966, and here it is finally taking fruition," Otis Williams, the Tempts' sole surviving founding member, says by phone from a tour stop near Dayton, Ohio. "It's been great, though. They're consummate professionals and we blend together real good even though they have their own style and we have the Motown sound. It's a very good, blending show, and the fans are really turning out and love both aspects of the music."
Williams, 73, says he admired the Beach Boys back in the 60s, and the two groups have taken time to "sit and talk and exchange life stories and what have you." Williams' favorite moment was talking about how the Beach Boys' harmonies reminded him of the Four Freshmen, and then learning that one of the Four Freshmen is currently part of the Beach Boys' band.
There's more than the past to talk about for the Tempts, however. As the group celebrates its 55th anniversary this year, it's planning to hit the recording studio in the new year, and Williams says the current quintet is seeking out "great songs. That's what we're known for. We won't step out of character on that." Meanwhile, a theater musical based on the group's story -- using Williams' 1988 autobiography and the 1998 NBC miniseries "The Temptations" as source material -- is being directed by Des McAnuff ("Jersey Boys," "The Who`s Tommy") and is on track for a Broadway debut in 2017.
"The problem is the miniseries was four hours long, so we have to capture as much as we can in two hours, 'cause that's how long a Broadway show runs," Williams says. "So we really have to pack in the history -- the songs, the movement, the whole embodiment of the Temptations within those two hours.
"It's an interesting challenge, but that's what we've been about our whole existence is challenges. I can't wait to see it."
The Temptations and the Beach Boys
Sunday, Aug. 9. Doors open at 5 p.m.
Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, 14900 Metropolitan Parkway, Sterling Heights. Tickets are $25-$65 pavilion, $10 lawn.
Call 586-268-9700 or visit www.freedomhill.net
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