- 🇺🇸 Union Springs, AL
- Years Active
1955 - 1992
Eddie Kendricks first rose to fame as a founding member of the Temptations before spinning off into a solo career, topping the charts in 1973 with the foundational disco classic "Keep On Truckin'."
Kendricks was born in Alabama, and first made his mark as a member of the Primes, a doo-wop quartet that proved so popular with Detroit-area audiences that manager Milton Jenkins created a spinoff sister act dubbed the Primettes, later renamed the Supremes. When the Primes dissolved, Kendricks landed with another fledgling Detroit act, the Elgins; the vocal quintet was rebranded the Temptations upon signing to Motown in the spring of 1961. Kendricks' silken, soaring tenor featured on Temptations smashes like "The Way You Do the Things You Do" and "Get Ready," but as tensions within the group mounted, he quit the lineup in late 1970 after recording lead on the gossamer ballad "Just My Imagination (Running Away from Me)," which spent two weeks at number one on the Billboard pop singles chart as well as three weeks atop the R&B singles chart.
Kendricks' 1971 debut All by Myself attracted scant notice, but the follow-up People... Hold On yielded the seven-minute epic "Girl You Need a Change of Mind," which caught on in underground clubs in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. "The floor-shaking rhythmic builds and wild, repeated emotional flights of ‘Girl You Need a Change of Mind' are frequently cited as the single groundbreaking model for the breaks and changes of disco music," writes Motown historian Brian Chin, "Its transporting, church-inspired frenzy and release remain the essential characteristics of dance music."
Kendricks actively courted the emerging disco audience with the million-selling "Keep On Truckin'," which reached number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B singles charts. The rush-released "Boogie Down" was also warmly welcomed in disco circles, topping the R&B charts for three weeks in early 1974 while peaking at number two on the Hot 100. But Kendricks' career foundered in the latter half of the decade, although he made a minor comeback in the 1980s performing opposite another former Temptation, David Ruffin. Kendricks' died of lung cancer at the age of 52.