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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Legend: David Ruffin

b. David Eli Ruffin, 18th January 1941, Whynot, Mississippi, U.S.A.

d. 1st June 1991, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

David Ruffin was one of the most recognisable vocalists to have emerged from the Motown Records stable. He was the younger brother of Jimmy Ruffin and the cousin of Melvin Franklin of The Temptations. David was the son of a minister, and commenced his singing career with the gospel group the Dixie Nightingales.He was also the drummer and singer in the doo-wop group the Voice Masters in 1958.

David then signed to the Anna label in Detroit as a solo artist in 1960. His released singles at that label and on the Check-Mate imprint in 1961. In January 1964, David replaced Eldridge Bryant as the tenor vocalist in the Temptations line-up. The original arrangement was that he would support Eddie Kendricks as a background vocalist, however, he was soon elevated to featured vocalist on many subsequest releases.

From 1965 onwards David became the lead singer on several of the bands hits including 'My Girl'’, Wish It Would Rain', 'I'm Losing You' and 'Ain't Too Proud To Beg'. David was becoming recognised as the lead vocalist within the group. Motown, however, felt that some of his behaviour left a little to be desired and he lost the outright lead singer status by 1968. It was this occurrence that led to David embarking upon a solo career, with 'My Whole World Ended', becoming a Top 10 hit in 1969.

These recordings were undertaken under the wings of producers Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol. David also recorded with his brother, Jimmy, at the time. Throughout the Seventies, his work with Van McKoy became highly popular, especially with his personal renaissance album ‘Who I Am’ that contained the pop smash ‘Walk Away From Love’, a huge hit both sides of the Atlantic.

In 1976, he released ‘Everything’s Coming Up Love’, an album that became highly regarded amongst soul fans in the U.K. In 1979, he left Motown for Warner Brothers Records. Here he recorded ‘So Soon We Change’ in 1979, that featured ‘Let Your Love Rain Down On Me’ and ‘Morning Sun Looks Blue’, an album that was to be held in high regard in the following decades. 'Gentleman Ruffin' followed in 1980.

In the early 80's David was briefly jailed for tax evasion, however a Temptations reunion in 1982 brought him back into contact with Eddie Kendricks. Following this liaison, Ruffin and Kendricks established a regular partnership. They were showcased in a prestigious concert at New York's Apollo by long-time Temptations fans, Hall And Oates, which was captured on a 1985 live album, and Ruffin and Kendricks also joined the rock duo at the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia. They subsequently recorded a well-received album of duets for RCA which revived memories of their vocal collaborations with the Temptations two decades earlier.

The pairing also released one album in 1987, simply, entitled ‘Ruffin And Kendricks’, which contained the modern soul tunes, ’I Couldn’t Believe It’ and ‘Don’t Know Why You’re Dreamin’, produced by Ronnie McNeir. David recorded with Ian Levine's Motor City label in 1990, a stint including 'Hurt The One You Love' and toured with Eddie Kendricks and Dennis Edwards as 'Tribute To The Temptation's on a package tour in 1991. A few weeks after the last performance David Ruffin died in tragic circumstances following an overdose of crack cocaine.


  • Motown Legends: I've Lost Everything I've... (Motown 1995)
  • The Ultimate Collection (Motown 1998)
  • 20th Century Masters - The Millennium... (Motown 2000)
  • Motown Legends: Walk Away From Love (Universal 2001)
  • Essential Collection (Spectrum 2002)

Thanks to these blogs : Another Sucker On The Vine, Frisian's Favourites.


Mr. Moo said...

Additional links can be found over here:

Simon666 said...

Thanks again Mr.Moo :)

Mr. Moo said...

The Ruffin Brothers : I Am My Brother's Keeper (1970):

Simon666 said...

Thanks Mr.Moo

Rory - Stilltown said...

Major props on this.

Too Shy To Say said...

I believe the album "Feelin' Good" is actually just the UK title for "Doing His Thing", which would explain not being able to find any info on the "Doing His Thing" album. I've been searching all week for anything on "Doing His Thing", and I saw someone comment on amazon saying "Feelin' Good" was just the uk title for "Doing His Thing", so hopefully that's the case, so I know I'm not missing out on some unheard David Gems.

Simon666 said...

Thanks for the info, I've edited the post to show that as an alternative title.
That also means we have a complete discography now :)

Mark said...

FYI the second volumes of both David Ruffin's & Eddie Kendricks' 'Complete Motown Solo albums' sets put out by Hip-O-Select, have a bunch of unreleased material from the Motown vaults.
Simon - I couldn't find a link, but you may have better luck!

Simon666 said...

Hi Mark -
No luck here either!
But thanks for the info, will have to watch out for them ...

Anonymous said...

new compilation of unrealized early things David Ruffin's - David (2004) on blog

Rare---1 said...

not quite a complete discography.. david ruffin released a cd in 1993 on the gems record label ;)

Simon666 said...

Hi Rare---1,
Do you have a title for that album?
Curious about it ... especially since he died in 1991. Is it a compilation ?

Rare---1 said...

dont know why i have it down as david ruffin it is in fact dennis edwards.. my mistake which is rare :)

Moe said...

Thanks for all The Ruffin!!!

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