Interview with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks

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b_300_0_16777215_00_images_stories_big1280939291.jpg They've been acknowledged as two of the most well-known 'voices' in black music: between them, these men have sung on some of the true classics in popular music ? "My Girl", "Just My Imagination", "I Wish It Would Rain" ? the list is impressive by anyone's standards.
After the reunion tour with their former colleagues, The Temptations, at the start of the Eighties, David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks (he dropped the 's' a few years back) hooked up with John Oates and Darryl Hall for a special night at the famous Apollo Theatre in New York.

That engagement led to a whole new chapter in their careers which includes a just recently released album on RCA and an opportunity to catch up with these two gentlemen, who seem to become real 'characters' when they're together if our interview was anything to go by!
David explains that their initial hook-up with Hall & Oates was by no means their first contact with the guys. "We knew them way back in '65, '66, when they were part of a group, The Temp tones in Philadelphia. That's, of course, when we were in The Temptations and we used to offer them support and encouragement in what they were doing. They'd come see all the shows at The Apollo and even back then, they expressed how much they wanted to perform there."

Apparently, the duo had a tough time catching up with Eddie once they were scheduled to do a show there in 1985, "but eventually, they tracked me down," he says, "and I spoke with David. We agreed it was a good idea so we spent four days rehearsing with them and then did the show."

It was during their rehearsals that David took the opportunity to play John and Darryl a tape of songs he'd cut in 1982-83. "I had been shopping a deal so it seemed to make a lot of sense to play the songs to the guys. When they eventually heard the tape ? the night before the show ? they got interested and told me they were considering setting up some kind of deal with RCA to bring in other artists. One thing led to another," says David, "and we did the album."

"We had a bunch of people to work with ? Gene McFadden, Ronnie McNeir, Rahni Song and Jay King." King, the man behind Club Nouveau,'decided to cut the inimitable duo on a Sly classic, "Family Affair". "When he first told us about it, I didn't like the idea," says David bluntly. "I mean it's hard to kick someone's behind, especially someone like Sly. He's a helluva artist so I was wary about doing it. But as you can see, it turned out to be great."
Eddie adds his input to David's comments and the verbal banter between them prompts the question ? do these two volatile guys ever fight with each other? After all, neither were exactly silent members of The Temptations.
"Fight, man? All the time," roars David. "Naw, man, we don't fight," adds Eddie with a laugh. "More like, we egg each other on, especially when it comes to singing."

"I'd say that we know how to get the best out of one another," says David. "After all, we have been around each other for a little while!"
David says that since 1973, "we've been bouncing back and forth with each other in our solo careers" although Eddie points out that they've been touring seriously together only in the last two years. Their show includes some Temptations' tunes such as "I Could Never Love Another" and "I Wish It Would Rain" with both gentlemen contributing highlights from their respective solo careers: Eddie includes "Keep On Truckin'" and "Boogie Down" whilst David performs "Walk Away From Love" and "My Whole World Ended". Now they'll be adding songs from the new album which both men feel is a strong collection.

"We have some nice grooves in there," they agree. "Including," David chuckles, "some songs to lay back with and to get laid with!" Clearly not a man to mince words, our Mr. Ruffin!

Neither gentleman has much to say about their reunion stint with The Temptations other than that the experience "was successful to the end of the tour, we enjoyed some of it and then we went our separate ways". David and Eddie spent almost a year on the road with that situation but then, touring has been a constant factor for both men since their early days with The Temps. They still enjoy the chance to travel "except when we have to fly and make stops all over the place. But being able to get out there and perform before the public is still a great opportunity and," says David, "I'm just glad that we can give so many people so much joy through music."

Eddie confesses that when he started out with music as his career, "I thought it would be much easier. But I've weathered the waters," he states candidly. "I never knew that I'd still be doing this so many years later," says David, "but I knew I always wanted to sing." "That's because you couldn't do nothin' else!" Eddie chirps in. "Well, I'm a pretty good cook and I'd have made a good mechanic too!" responds his partner.

Although their current work situation together is their main focus, David and Eddie say that they do anticipate doing solo projects again. "We're open to doing anything ? we Jook on our work together as like the ship, the* anchor. At anytime, we can fly away from the ship and then come back to it until such time as we don't need to be on the ship anymore. The bottom line is that we enjoy working together."

Asked what they'd like to achieve in the future, David says that "a starring role in a movie" would be very satisfying. Eddie is a little more philosophical, reflecting that "I've done everything I wanted to do and it's like a 360 degree turn to me now. I can clean up some things, mistakes I've made and I know I won't do them again."

David and Eddie see themselves as "trendsetters rather than followers in this business ? we're good singers and we do good music" but when it comes to defining exactly what they see themselves as in relationship to the business, they're not exactly in accord!
"We're singers first, then entertainers," says Eddie.

"Naw, man, we're entertainers, not just singers!" David responds. "There are a lot of 'singers' in the business who shouldn't be in it, frankly. If you want my opinion, they give this business a bad name."

Mr. Ruffin declines to mention anyone in particular but the point is made. The truth is, whether you relate to David Ruffin and Eddie Kendrick as great singers or great entertainers, they have been providing some serious vocal magic for over two decades now and they obviously have no plans to change that. (DN B&S)

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