The Temptations were one of Motown Records' most popular acts and became one of the most successful groups of all time.
Founded 53 years ago, the all-male singing group produced dozens of hits in the 1960s and 1970s, including "My Girl," "The Way You Do The Things You Do," "I Can't Get Next To You," "Just My Imagination (Running Away From Me)" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone."
Members won four Grammy Awards and are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group was listed by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2008 as one of the top 50 bands of all time.
The group still is going strong and will perform Jan. 25 at the Turlock Community Theatre. Otis Williams, 71, is the only original member these days. He will be joined by Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon and Bruce Williamson. The singers will perform in matching outfits and dance in synchronized moves, just as they did in their heyday.
"We'll be doing what we're known for all our classic hits," Williams said in a recent phone interview from his Los Angeles home. "We don't take what we do for granted. When people put out their hard-earned money to see us perform, they want a good show."
Williams said he is grateful that he was able to work with Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. "Motown was my Camelot," he said.
"Working with Berry Gordy was a great experience he was so intuitive about what a hit should be like and he taught us all how to be better at what we're doing. Mr. Gordy was a phenomenon."
Williams said it was also a treat to work with Smokey Robinson, who helped write and produce some of The Temptations' biggest hits, including "The Way You Do the Things You Do." Robinson performed at Modesto's Gallo Center for the Arts in May.
"Aside from being one of the most sensational lyricists of our time, he was always organized," Williams said. "When we worked with Smokey, he would have the song the way it should be. Smokey had his stuff together every time we went into the studio with him."
Williams co-wrote the 1998 book "The Temptations," which told the story of his life and of the group. Ten years later, the book was made into an NBC miniseries of the same name. "We were highly rated for those two nights we were on," Williams said. "The people loved that miniseries even all the way up to this present time."
Williams is excited that the Temptations are included in the new Broadway show "Motown the Musical" opening this spring (featuring former Modestan Morgan James, who just performed at the Modesto Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Pops concerts at the Gallo Center). He said there's talk that in two years or so, there might be a new Broadway musical focusing just on The Temptations.
Williams is touched that so many people still enjoy the group's music. He said the concerts attract audience members age 8 to 80. Some fans will drive hours to see their shows. He believes it's a testimony to the quality of the songs.
"Can you imagine what the world would be like without music?" Williams said. "A big void. I've seen music bring people together I've seen music quell a riot or a fight. It's a powerful means of expression."
While it can be difficult to keep up with the demands of touring, Williams said he tries to keep healthy by eating right, exercising and getting lots of rest.
"I don't party, I don't do no drinking and smoking and all that stuff," he said. "I try and have some discipline about my actions so that with God's blessing I can continue to do this."
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Jan. 25
WHERE: Turlock Community Theatre, 1574 E. Canal Drive
CALL: (209) 668-1169