David Ruffin life and biography

David Ruffin picture, image, poster

David Ruffin biography

Date of birth : 1941-01-18
Date of death : 1991-06-01
Birthplace : Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2012-01-13
Credited as : Singer, lead singer of the Temptations, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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Davis Eli "David" Ruffin was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of the Temptations from 1964 to 1968 (or the group's "Classic Five" period as it was later known). He was the lead voice on such famous songs as "My Girl" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." Known for his unique raspy and anguished tenor vocals, Ruffin was ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2008.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 for his work with the Temptations.Fellow Motown recording artist Marvin Gaye once said admiringly of Ruffin that, "I heard in [his voice] a strength my own voice lacked."

Motown founder Berry Gordy said that any of the five Temptations could have been a lead singer, but it was David Ruffin who stood out most from the pack. In contrast to his heavenly-voiced partner, Eddie Kendricks, Ruffin sang as if every word was a plea — pain and desperation filled his lead vocals on "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "(I Know) I'm Losing You" and "I Wish It Would Rain." "His voice had a certain glorious anguish that spoke to people on many emotional levels," says Daryl Hall, who briefly recorded and performed with Ruffin in the Eighties. "I heard in [his voice] a strength my own voice lacked," said Marvin Gaye, who added that Ruffin's work "made me remember that when a lot of women listen to music, they want to feel the power of a real man."

In 1985, longtime Temptations fans Hall & Oates teamed up with Ruffin and Kendrick to perform at the re-opening of the Apollo Theater in New York. Their performance was released as a relatively successful live album and single. The four singers also sang a medley of Temptations hits at Live Aid on July 13, 1985. John Oates later wrote a minor hit single for Ruffin and Kendrick, but the two duos fell out, allegedly due to Daryl Hall's objections to Ruffin's heavy drug use. After being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1989, with the other Temptations, Ruffin, Kendrick and Dennis Edwards began touring and recording as "Ruffin/Kendrick/Edwards: Former Leads of The Temptations".

After a successful month-long tour of England with Kendrick and Edwards, Ruffin collapsed on June 1, 1991, in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, crack house after sharing ten vials with a friend in under half an hour. Although the cause of death was ruled an accidental overdose of cocaine, Ruffin's family and friends suspected foul play, claiming that a money belt containing the proceeds from the tour ($40,000) was missing from his body. He had just finished recording the single "Hurt the One You Love" for Motorcity Records.

In The Temptations television miniseries, Ruffin's beaten body is depicted as being thrown from a moving car in front of a hospital, where he dies. Also stated in the mini-series was that his body remained unclaimed in a morgue for a week after his death. As a result, Ruffin's estate filed suit against NBC and other major playerc involved in the making of the series, claiming defamation. According to the plaintiffs in the case, Ruffin was actually taken to the hospital by a limousine and was escorted to the waiting area by his driver, who informed the attendants of his identity. The Ruffin children further state that his body was claimed by one of them within a few days after his death.

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