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The Temptations & The Four Tops

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The Temptations are the embodiment of harmony, dignity and class. They are the most popular male vocal and soul group in the world. And they have influenced every ensemble that has followed in their footsteps, from old-schoolers the Delfonics to New Edition, from Jodeci, to BLACKstreet, and from Dru Hill to one of the biggest selling artists in history, Boyz II Men.

The quartet, originally called the Four Aims, made their first single for Chess in 1956, and spent seven years on the road and in nightclubs, singing pop, blues, Broadway, but mostly jazz—four-part harmony jazz. When Motown’s Berry Gordy Jr. found out they had hustled a national “Tonight Show” appearance, he signed them without an audition to be the marquee act for the company’s Workshop Jazz label. That proved short-lived, and Stubbs’ powerhouse baritone lead and the exquisite harmonies of Fakir, Benson, and Payton started making one smash after another with the writing-producing trio Holland-Dozier-Holland.