Michigan just means one thing. It means Tamla Motown and some of the best music ever in the world, hence groups like the vocal harmonies of The Temptations. The group formed in the 1960s and went through a number of personnel changes with people like Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin passing through.
By 1970 the group was an established hit machine and the first hit in 1970? Well it was a hit called Psychedelic Shack which reached the No. 7 spot on Billboard and No. 33 in the UK which was produced by Norman Whitfield who died in 2008, who wrote such classics as I Heard It Though The Grapevine, Just My Imagination and Papa Was A Rolling Stone.
Psychedelic is famous as being one of the very first hit singles to have sampling within the song.
The follow up in the UK had Diana Ross as a guest vocal with Why (Must We Fall In Love), which was followed by Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today) No. 3 in the U.S. and No.7 UK. The song dealt with many issues in the U.S. at the time including the pain of Vietnam and segregation.
It was 1971 when the next top twenty on both sides of the Atlantic occurred with the hit Just My Imagination (Running Away From Me) with lead voice from Eddie Kendricks who died in 1992, and had a solo single No.1 in the 1970s called Keep On Truckin.
Just My Imagination comes from the album Sky’s The Limit and is the last album featuring Eddie Kendricks and long-term member Paul Williams (Died in 1973 by suicide). The song itself was a bout the start to finish of life.
The next 1971 hit was Superstar (Remember How You Got To Where You Are) which featured Dennis Edwards as the lead singer. The hit was a top twenty hit in the U.S. and top thirty in the UK. The song was actually a sideways swipe at Kendricks and Ruffin.
In 1972 there was only one transatlantic hit called Take A Look Around. But the biggest hit came towards the latter half of the year with the classic Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone a No. 1 in the U.S. (No.14 UK). This record won THREE Grammys and was originally written for the group The Undisputed Truth in 1971, but it was a very small hit. Norman Whitfield pushed the group so hard during the recording that he was sacked after. The group was angry at first because a third of the single was just music. The result though was a classic song.
As good as it was it became the last UK single of the 1970s. In the U.S. they had a handful of other hits, but in real terms the group was no longer great, but the group have stayed on the road even to this day. The group released nearly twenty albums during the 1970s alone.