The Temptations already performed and recorded before David Ruffin joined the group in 1964. Lead vocals were usually handled by Eddie Kendricks or Paul Williams. Smokey Robinson, who co-wrote songs and produced tracks for the group during this period, heard something in Ruffin’s voice that told him he could be more than a background singer.
Challenging himself to come up with this perfect song for Ruffin to sing, Smokey delivered what became the group’s first #1 record on the pop and r&b charts. The song was “My Girl,” the first of several classic Temptations sides on which Ruffin sang lead.
Ruffin wasn’t with the group for very long. He was fired in 1968 after missing performances. He had a couple of solo hits after leaving The Temptations but for the most part, his hit-making days were behind him.
Ruffin died at age 50 in 1991. On today, Ruffin’s birthday, Tunes du Jour presents a playlist of some of Ruffin’s best work. It’s amazing how many great tunes he sang lead on during his brief tenure with The Temptations.