By Timothy Cox
Editor ‘n Chief
Seventies Soul Report
BALTIMORE, MD — A visible number of wheelchairs, canes and slow-walking patrons poured into the Baltimore Modell Lyric auditorium
on an unexpectedly warm April 15,2022 evening – to witness two of Motown’s legendary hitmakers – The Temptations and the Four Tops.
The evening performance transpired into two-hours of expectedly soulful evening fun of memorable pop and soul Motown hits from days gone by.
According to one Lyric venue official, the show attracted nearly 2,000 patrons, although the venue holds a capacity of more than 3,000. The Tops entered the stage as the expected opening act. The veteran act was formed in the early 1950s before the Temptations, who are currently celebrating their 60th year in existence. The Four Tops, like the Tempts, feature only one of their original members – Abdul “Duke” Fakir is the man holding down the original fort for the Tops. For the Tempts, it’s Otis Williams, the founder and owner of the Temptations’ franchise.
Neither front-man could be described as a Spring Chickens – Williams is age 80 and Fakir is 86. While Williams maintains his presence amongst his younger peers – choreography-wise, Fakir is obviously a bit more challenging. Not only does he require a stool for frequent sit-down breaks, his steps are noticeably slower and not as crisp as in his glory days.
The audience was obviously unaffected by his shortcomings – they gave both Fakir and Williams standing ovations for their historical achievements as Motown legends.– still maintaining their stage presence and touring throughout the world.
In fact, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the iconic Temptations Reunion Tour. While the tour started very successfully, over time, Otis had to cancel the tour when Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin reportedly suffered from drug issues.
Fortunately, for this writer – I had the chance to witness the Reunion Tour in July 1982 at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pa. The show was remarkable — witnessing all five classic Temptations back together again, along with Richard Street and Glynn Leonard. Only one missing was producer Rick James, who composed the group’s hit song that year, “Standing On the Top.”
Giving props to the New Edition of Boston’s Roxbury District
According to several of my colleagues who have witnessed the current New Edition tour, apparently it’s one for the ages.
Ironically, it’s been over 40 years since New Edition first appeared in the recording industry. As young kids from Boston, they were the continuation of the vocal group legacy initiated by groups before the Tempts and Tops. They emulated groups like The Orioles, The Moonglows and the Marcels.
Since they are all now age 50-plus, we must give credit to Michael Bivins and his NE mates for staying in physical shape – well enough to mimic choreographed steps created when they were teenagers..
Thanks to a Youtube live-concert producer named Reddbone Princess Lyons, the young lady taped the entire NE performance at the Columbus Civic Center in Columbus, Georgia. Her video work was outstanding and provided us with a bird’s-eye view of the red-hot show. It was almost like attending the show in-person. Again, special props to the Reddbone Pryncess Lyons of Youtube, fame.
The Tempts and the Four Tops are what New Edition hope and pray to be, 25 or 30 years from now. Giving credit where it’s due, the Boston NE Boys are certainly on their way to be the nostalgic act for their generation when their fans are also attending shows in wheelchairs, on canes and walking with obvious limps.
To the folks born in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s who may be reading this revue, I simply propose, Just keep on living – after all, Father Time is UNDEFEATED!
New Edition is considered the ultimate keepers of the vocal group legacy created by groups like the Mills Brothers, Ink Spots, Moonglows, Marcels, the Temptations and Four Tops. Michael Bivins (far left) is typically considered the leader of the Boston-based brothers, who formed in 1978. Also pictured up front is Brooke Payne, the group’s longtime manager and choreographer. (special photo)
Timothy Cox, (l) Editor ‘n Chief of Seventies Soul Report.com, shares backstage chop-talk with Abdul “Duke” Fakir of the legendary Four Tops. Mrs. Alise Aiken, a ’70s Soul colleague, is also pictured. (Photo courtesy of Timothy Cox)
Upon attempting to purchase a new program at the current show, the merchandising manager said “programs are no longer being sold at such shows, and they are considered an “old school” practice. Hence, welcome to the wide world of Internet practice where Band Bios are accessible at your fingertips! This is the 1982 program featuring the classic five Tempts along with Glynn Leonard and Richard Street.
(Reach Timothy Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org)