Picture it: 1984. Or was it ’85. No matter. I was working as a “swing” host at all-hit-radio CKSL. Think CFTR but in London, Ontario. Swing means my shifts swung around the clock. There were a couple of overnights, an evening, an afternoon and fill-in shifts when necessary. The promotions department asked me to accompany a couple of contest winners to Detroit via limo, to see the Four Tops and The Temptations perform. The black stretch car had a stocked bar. The three of us tossed back Kahlua and other strong liqueurs. Our twenty-something brains were fried by the time we got to the venue. We stumbled inside and I looked for my contact to get our tickets. Nothing sobers a person up like being in charge of two strangers and told there are no tickets.
Somehow, our tickets got sold or given away. The night was a sell-out. I pleaded to at least stand inside a door and watch the show. It was electric. All of those incredible songs I’d heard on the radio, the soul and majesty of The Temptations, live on stage, dancing in perfectly coordinated steps like I’d seen on TV. The Four Tops were just as great. It was kind of fitting that the only three white people in the place had to stand at the back while everyone else had a proper seat.
The Temp’s Dennis Edwards died last week, just shy of his 75th birthday. He replaced David Ruffin in 1969 and was in and out of the group over the years, and even toured with Ruffin. What a voice. Check out Ball of Confusion as a prime example.