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Temptations announce year-long 60th anniversary campaign

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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The Temptations' ambitions were relatively modest when the group signed with Motown Records 60 years ago in Detroit.

And it certainly wasn't looking towards a six-decade legacy that's as strong now as it's ever been.

"When we signed with Motown, like most up and coming artists we had dreams of being successful, making money. Our aspirations were the same as anybody trying to make it," Otis Williams, the group's sole surviving founding member, said Friday, May 14, by phone from Los Angeles. "We didn't think about a year later, much less (60)."

In conjunction with the actual anniversary -- on Saturday, May 15 -- Motown Records and Universal Music Enterprises has announced a 60th anniversary campaign that will span the next 12 months. Plans include a return to the road as pandemic restrictions leave, what's described as an "anniversary album" (which Williams will not disclose details about), a video series and other events.

The group's stage musical, "Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations," returns to Broadway on Oct. 16, with a touring company also hitting the road -- and coming to the group's hometown during August of 2022 at the Detroit Opera House.

"Everything looks very promising," Williams said about the campaign. "I've been blessed to do this for these many years, I can't complain. We were fortunate to come along at the time Motown was coming out, and we became part of the institution as far as great music, great artists. It's just wonderful."

The Temptations started in 1960, fusing members of Detroit group's the Distants and the Primes and originally known as the Elgins. It changed its name because of another troupe called the Elgins, but as the Temptations scored 14 No. 1 hits -- including classics such as "My Girl," "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" -- and won Motown's first Grammy Award, for "Cloud Nine" in 1969.

The group has had more than two dozen members. It's been induced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and it received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

More details about the 60th anniversary campaign are expected to be announced in the coming months.

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