David Ruffin was an American soul singer signed to Motown.
He was born five years after his brother Jimmy Ruffin and the two sang together in a family gospel group, and later the group The Dixie Nightingales. David moved to Detroit (where his brother was working) and recorded several singles for different labels (including Motown forerunner Anna Records). He met Berry Gordy and later The Temptations, even singing with them on stage.
After original Temptation Elbridge Bryant left, David (and brother Jimmy) auditioned for the group. He passed (sorry, Jimmy), and joined the group in 1964. Smokey Robinson discovered his unique, raspy baritone vocals and he became their main lead singer until 1968, when he was fired and forced to go solo.
He continued to record for Motown, releasing material in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, but his solo career never really took off in the way it should have. He was hampered by his addiction to cocaine and an apparent lack of support from Motown, and left the company in 1977. In the 1980s, he reunited with fellow former Temptation Eddie Kendricks, then briefly with The Temptations, and he even worked with musicians Daryl Hall & John Oates. He was also arrested on several occasions.
When Temptations lead singer Dennis Edwards was fired from the group, David, Eddie and Dennis began touring and recording as “Ruffin/Kendrick/Edwards: Former Leads of The Temptations” around 1990. He also recorded a single for Motorcity Records (“Hurt The One You Love”) before passing away in 1991 from an adverse reaction to cocaine.
Marvellous Motown currently recommends five songs by David Ruffin – click on the link above for our archive or click on a specific song below:
- MY WHOLE WORLD ENDED (THE MOMENT YOU LEFT ME)
- I’VE GOT A NEED FOR YOU
- I WANT YOU BACK
- ON AND OFF
- RODE BY THE PLACE (WHERE WE USED TO STAY)