The Hit Man: Eddie Kendricks

By Gentle Jones

Eddie Kendricks
Eddie Kendricks
Eddie Kendricks (Edward James Kendrick) was born today (December 17, 1939) in Union Springs, Alabama to Johnny and Lee Bell Kendrick.

Kendricks moved to Detroit at 18 and started a singing group The Primes which performed Doo-Wop and also capably covered Mills Brothers tunes.

Eventually Eddie rose to fame singing first tenor for The Temptations, also often singing with a distinctive falsetto.

An original member of The Temptations when they signed to Motown subsidiary Miracle and then Gordy, becoming a label staple and the most successful male vocal group of the 1960’s.

The Temptations
The Temptations
“Get Ready”, “Just My Imagination”, and “The Way You Do The Things You Do” are a few of the smash hits which feature Kendricks as the lead vocalist.

In addition to vocal duties Kendricks was the group’s primary vocal arranger and defacto wardrobe manager.

From 1960 until 1971 Kendricks sang as one of The Temptations lead singers.

An icy relationship with Berry Gordy is cited as a reason Kendricks was originally unable to record solo material while signed to Motown with The Temptations, something Michael Jackson was allow to do while with the Jackson 5.

“Berry Gordy is a man I do not know,” Eddie Kendricks told The Urban Street video show (see below) of his relationship with Berry Gordy in 1991, just prior to his death. “I only met him about three times. I really don’t know anything about him. I just know he didn’t particularly care for me. I guess he had his reasons.”

One of those reasons could have been Diana Ross, who reportedly had affairs with both Eddie Kendricks and Berry Gordy early on in her career.

Eddie Kendricks
Eddie Kendricks
“What did Berry Gordy do for The Temptations? He didn’t really have a lot to do a lot for us, because we already knew where we were going and what we wanted,” Kendricks stated. “We knew we wanted to record. We knew we already could perform and that is what we did. They didn’t have to do a lot of work with us.”

Eventually, Kendricks was permitted to release solo material on Motown’s Tamla imprint.

“I started to make the decision [to leave the group] in 1965,” Kendricks revealed. “Because of things I thought weren’t quite proper. It had really nothing to do with the group, it was business. Working with people in the business that I thought didn’t quite have our interests at heart. But jumping out of these groups, you don’t get the help you deserve…”

By the 1970’s Eddie Kendricks was topping charts as a solo artists with hit singles “Keep On Truckin” and “Boogie Down.” In 1978 he signed away his rights to his Motown royalties to leave the label, moving to Arista and later Atlantic Records.

Eddie Kendricks was inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame with the Temptations in 1989.

Share this content: