Temptations Lead Singer Dennis Edwards Dead At 74

Dennis Edwards, who was the lead singer of the iconic group, the Temptations, died at the age of 74.

Temptations Lead Singer Dennis Edwards Dead At 74

Dennis Edwards, the Detroit singer whose gritty, electric vocals led the Temptations into a new phase of their career, died Thursday night in a Chicago hospital. He was 74.

Edwards, who joined the iconic Motown group in 1968 in the wake of David Ruffin’s firing, was the prominent voice on enduring Tempts hits such as “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today)” and “Cloud Nine.” He remained a staple of the core group through the 1980s, and in the ’90s formed a splinter act that eventually toured as the Temptations Review Featuring Dennis Edwards.

In later years, Edwards said he was appreciative of the audiences that kept him performing regularly, and he looked back fondly on his glory years with the Temptations.

“All of a sudden, here you’re a guy on the block and you’re singing with these legends,” he told the Free Press in 2016 about joining the group. “Well, you had to bring your game up. I was just so proud.”

A Motown Museum representative and others close to Edwards confirmed his death. Edwards, a graduate of Detroit’s Eastern High School (now Martin Luther King High), most recently lived in the St. Louis area, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that he died of complications from meningitis, for which he was initially hospitalized last spring.

“My heart is very heavy,” Martha Reeves told the Free Press. “I feel like I’ve been hit by a sledgehammer.”

Reeves said she and fellow Motown alumni such as the Supremes’ Mary Wilson had heard that Edwards was hospitalized, but that details had been hard to come by.

“We’ve been praying that he made a recovery,” Reeves said. “We should all be in better communication with each other, because we’re a family.”

Former Motown songwriter and A&R chief Mickey Stevenson recently saw Edwards during an L.A. visit. The Temptations singer “was getting a cold,” but otherwise appeared normal, Stevenson said.