The Distants (Detroit, Michigan)
Richard "Strick" Street (Lead)
Elbridge "Al" Bryant
1960 - Come On / Always (Northern 3732 / Warwick 546)
1960 - All Right / Open Your Heart (Northern 3732/Warwick 577)
Richard Street & The Distants (GM Eddie Kendricks)
1962 - Answer Me / Save Me From This Misery (Thelma/Harmon 1002)
The Temptations included members of two local Detroit vocal groups: from The Distants, second tenor Otis Williams, first tenor Elbridge "Al" Bryant and bass Melvin Franklin; and from The Primes, first tenor/falsetto Eddie Kendricks and second tenor/baritone Paul Williams (no relation to Otis). Otis Williams had moved from his native Texarkana, Texas to Detroit as a young boy, to live with his mother. By 1958, he was the leader of Otis Williams & the Siberians, a doo-wop group that included Williams, his friend Elbridge "Al" Bryant, James "Pee-Wee" Crawford, Vernard Plain, and Arthur Walton. This quintet recorded the single "Pecos Kid" backed with "All of My Life" for a label run by local radio deejay Senator Bristol Bryant.
The single never took off outside the local Detroit market, and the Siberians changed their name to The El Domingoes shortly afterward. At this time, more changes took place. Montgomery, Alabama native Melvin Franklin replaced Arthur Walton as the bass singer and Franklin's cousin, Detroit-born Richard Street, replaced Vernard Plain as lead singer. The group soon signed with Northern Records, run by Johnnie Mae Matthews, who renamed the group The Distants. The Distants recorded two singles for Northern, "Come On" (1959, featuring additional background vocals by the Andantes), and "Alright" (1960).
The original early 1960s Temptations lineup. Clockwise from top right:
Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, and Elbridge "Al" Bryant.
Between these two releases, Albert "Mooch" Harrell replaced Pee-Wee Crawford. "Come On" was a local hit for the Distants, and the Warwick label picked the record up for national distribution. After the release of "Alright", Matthews appointed Williams the group leader, and the group was renamed Otis Williams & the Distants. Though Otis Williams had a pleasant, but unremarkable, lead voice, he organized the group and so became the defacto leader, as he would later with the Temptations.
Come On Always
All Right Open Your Heart
Richard Street & The Distants
Answer Me Save Me From This Misery
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