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In the glamorous world of Motown, few stories resonate as powerfully as that of Otis Williams and The Temptations. As the last surviving member of the original lineup, Otis carries a legacy of soulful harmonies, groundbreaking hits, and the ups and downs of life in the spotlight. We are privileged to sit down with him to delve deep into the riveting narrative of his life, the evolution of The Temptations, and the enduring influence they’ve cast on generations of music enthusiasts. As a testament to their everlasting impact, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations,” a musical celebrating their journey, dazzles audiences at the Prince Edward Theatre in London.
Do you remember all the names of The Temptations in the last 60 years?
Otis Williams: Every single one of them. There’s positive and always negative. We faced challenges but continued, even after 60 years, with many ups and downs. We’ve had challenges, like finding places to eat [due to segration]. I mean, we were shot at. Think of when we played Columbia, South Carolina, in 1964. When we got to the venue, there was a rope right down the centre of the auditorium. Right on one side. We went out and did the show. Came back to the same place the next year. That rope was no longer there. Black and white kids side-by-side, high-fiving each other.
But we also had moments of unity. Sometimes, we’d find new depth in our music, making it even more exciting. It’s essential to tell our story, primarily for younger generations. We’re just like everyone else. We were lucky to succeed in what we did, but we didn’t always love ourselves enough to stay united. However, I’ve been the constant over these sixty years.