The Temptations are synonymous with the word LEGENDS. It was indeed a pleasure to interview Otis Williams, the last original member of this fantastic group.
Elle: The Temptations have been named number one R&B artists of all time. You’re in the top 125 artists named by Billboard magazine, what do you think contributed to this legendary status?
Otis Williams: Well, first and foremost, I have to give it to God. We have experienced many changes, and we were supposed to be finished a long time ago when we lost David Ruffin. But here we are getting ready to celebrate 60 years, and we’re still just as loved and popular as ever. So I credit our success to hard work, dedication, and purpose.
Elle: Amazing. Now the music industry has seen significant changes over the years. What has it been like for you to see the evolution of music today?
Otis Williams: It’s been an incredible ride. My mother took me to Detroit in the early 1950s, and at that time, it was the embryonic stage of rock’n’roll. You could hear Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard and a lot of the greats. The temptations jumped off in 1964, and so the evolution of the popularity of R&B music or music, in general, has been significant. There was a time when you could only find R&B on the very end of your radio, only two little dials at two stations, and that was it. So to hear how R&B has progressed has been enjoyable.
Elle: Now you’re the only original member of The Temptations. What is one of your fondest memories of your original group members?
Otis: There’s a whole lot, but there’s been a few that have stood the test of time. Well, when we did a show in San Diego, at a big theater, a crowd of women, in particular, started rushing towards the stage. So we broke ranks from our choreography, and the five of us ran Helter Skelter. Eddie Kendricks and I went the same way. So as Daniel was coming over the fence, they pulled off his pants. When he went into the dressing room, he was almost half-naked. LOL.
Elle: What a funny memory. What advice would you give to today’s musician?
Otis: Well, you must be dedicated. You have to know anything significant doesn’t come easy. So I tell artists to be prepared because this is a glamorous business, but it can be rough. Be purposeful, dedicated, and focused; there are times when you will be tested.
Elle: So how does one deal defeat in the music industry?
Otis: The one thing that’s constant in life is change. But you have to try and become aware of the change and be ready to deal with it. When life hits you hard, the question then becomes, how bad do you want it. We were beaten, but we never lost sight of what we wanted to do. Almost 60 years later, and we are still here. Please don’t allow it to defeat you; you beat it!
Elle: Amen. So how do you practice self-care? How important is the self-care to you?
Otis: I’m getting back into the habit of going to the gym. When you are mainly a vigorous act like we are, you have to stay in shape. I had an interview, and the guy said, ‘We love The Temptations. We want you all to be around for as long as you can.’ I then told him if we are in our 80’s, do you still expect us to dance, and he said, Yes, Mr. Williams. We have stuck to our choreography. So, I watch what I eat, and I try and get as much rest as I can. I go to the gym and workout. I don’t hang out, and I don’t want to make myself sound like a saint because when we first started singing, we partied and hung out all night. But after we moved to LA, I started seeing life from a different perspective, and what matters most is your health. If you don’t take care of your health, you have nothing left.
Elle: You will be performing alongside the Four Tops. What can we expect when you guys come to South Florida?
Otis: Oh, you can expect stepping and a great show!