Dennis Edwards, former lead singer of the Temptations, died Friday in Chicago, one day before his 75th birthday, according to CBS Chicago.
The cause of death has not been made public.
Edwards joined the legendary Motown quintet in 1968 and sang lead on some of their biggest hits, including “I Can’t Get Next To You,” “Cloud Nine” and “Ball Of Confusion.”
Edwards was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and started singing at the age of two in his father’s church.
The family moved to Detroit when Edwards was 10, and Edwards became the choir director at his new church while still in high school, according to STLPublicRadio.com.
Edwards switched from gospel to pop in his twenties, but his mom didn’t approve and refused to take any of his earnings.
Before joining the Temptations, Edwards sang in the Countours, years after their big hit, “Do You Love Me,” but that allowed him to get the attention of Motown founder Berry Gordy.
“I signed with Motown and at the time the roster was completely full. Mr. Gordy, he had the foresight to just keep me on the roster,” Edwards told RnBShowcaseMag.com. “I had the opportunity to sing with the Contours for a couple of years, and I got the chance to meet the Temptations.”
Edwards joined the group in 1968 to replace lead singer David Ruffin. It was a time when the band’s sound was changing from smooth soul focused on a lead singer to a grittier funk that relied more on a group blend.
The first hit he sang on was “Cloud Nine,” followed by “I Can’t Get Next To You,” “Psychedelic Shack,” “Ball Of Confusion” and “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone,” among others.
The group split with Motown in 1976 and moved to Atlantic, which ended Edwards’ first stint with the group.
He worked with the Temptations on and off in the 1980s before touring with former Temptations David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, according to RollingStone.com.
In 1989, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Temptations.
Edwards and Ruth Pointer of the Pointer Sisters had a daughter, Issa, who later joined her mother’s group, according to CBS Chicago.