Red Carpet Interview
Award presented by Lee Thornburg – 16th Annual LA Music Awards
Richard Allen Street (October 5, 1942 – February 27, 2013) was an American soul and R&B singer, most notable as a member of Motown vocal group The Temptations from 1971 to 1993. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Street was the first member of the Temptations to actually be a native of the city which served as Motown’s namesake and hometown; all of the previous members were born and at least partially raised in the southern United States.
Otis Williams & the Distants
Street was the lead singer of an early Temptations predecessor, Otis Williams & the Distants, and takes the spotlight on their local hit “Come On”. The Distants also included future Temptations Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Elbridge “Al” Bryant, who left The Distants and their record deal with Johnnie Mae Matthews’ Northern Records to form The Elgins (later The Temptations) with Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. After their departure, Matthews had Street briefly lead a new Distants group in the early 1960s.
During the mid-1960s, Street performed with a Motown act called The Monitors, who had only one minor hit, 1966’s “Greetings (This is Uncle Sam)”, to its name. They also had a big hit in 1965 called “Say You” which the Temptations included on one of their albums.
Street knew the Temptations and Otis Williams, in particular, having worked for Motown in quality control and through his vocal work with the Distants and the Monitors. By the late-1960s, Street was being called upon to travel with The Temptations and sing Paul Williams’ parts from off-stage, while Paul Williams, who suffered from both alcoholism and sickle-cell disease, danced and lip-synched onstage. Street officially replaced Paul Williams in mid-1971, after both he and Eddie Kendricks left the group.
A number of the Temptations’ best-selling hits feature Street’s lead vocals, including “Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)” (1971), “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” (1972), “Masterpiece” (1973), and was featured solo on “Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)” (1973) as well as the album cuts “The First Time I Saw Your Face” and “Firefly” from the All Directions (1972) and A Song for You albums (1975), respectively. Street and Damon Harris traded leads on “1990”s tune “Heavenly.” He and old Distants bandmates Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin endured a number of lineup changes over the two decades Street was a Temptation, during which time Dennis Edwards, Ricky Owens, Damon Harris, Glenn Leonard, Louis Price, Ron Tyson, and Ali-Ollie Woodson all served as members of the group at various times.
In 1998, NBC aired The Temptations, a four-hour television miniseries based upon an autobiographical book by Otis Williams. Street was portrayed by actor J. August Richards.
Street was featured on the following Temptations songs: (List not complete)
“Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On”
“Run Charlie Run”
“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (SOLO)
“Do Your Thing”
“Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)” (SOLO)
“Snake In The Grass” (SOLO)
“If I Don’t Love You This Way”
“Law of the Land”
“Standing On The Top”
“Take A Look Around”
“What It Is”
“The End Of The Road” (SOLO)
“Mystic Woman (Love Me Over)”
“I Just Don’t Know How To Let You Go”
“I See My Child”
“Touch Me Again” (SOLO)
“Isn’t The Night Fantastic”
“Oh What A Night”
“Your Lovin’ Is Magic”
“Show Me Your Love”
“I’ll Keep My Light In My Window”
“Deeper Than Love”
“She Got Tired Of Loving Me”
“10 x 10″ (SOLO)
“Every Time I Close My Eyes” (SOLO)
“Put Us Together Again” (SOLO)
“Girls (They Like It)”
“Aiming At Your Heart”
Departure from The Temptations
According to Street’s own website, he left the group after the “family feeling” of the Temptations deteriorated. In 1993, Street entered the hospital to have seventeen kidney stones removed. Group leader Otis Williams was not informed of Street’s condition, and angrily called Street, demanding to know why he missed his last performance. Street felt that Williams seemed to show a lack of concern, and decided to move on.
Street continued to tour and perform as a solo artist. At times, he performed as a duo with former Temptations bandmate Damon Harris, who had joined the group at about the same time he did. Street was also a regular guest host with Tim Marshall and Larry Cotton on R&B Showcase Radio Show airing on WBZC FM in South Jersey. He was honored with a New Jersey State Senate Proclamation on May 11, 2002, for his charitable works at a Mount Laurel, NJ benefit for Cancer. The event was presented by R&B Showcase Magazine. Entertainers including Ms. Marilyn Marshall and MTV’s “Making The Band” finalists LMNT paid tribute to Richard Street.
Street was formerly married to The Velvelettes’ lead singer Carolyn “Cal” Gill from 1969 to 1983. They have one son, Richard, Jr. Street also has three children from additional relationships: Brandi Chapman, Januari Street, and Brandon Street. Richard Street was married to Cynthia Ramirez Street when he died. They were married for 18 years.
At the time of his death, Street was completing his autobiography, Ball of Confusion (referring to the Temptations song “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today)”, which Street did not appear on as he joined The Temptations in 1971, the year after it was released). Completed by his co-author, Gary Flanigan, Ball of Confusion: My Life as a Temptin’ Temptation was published in 2014. It is the second autobiographical account of The Temptations, the first being Otis Williams’ Temptations book from 1988.
Richard Street died on February 27, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada of a pulmonary embolism. His death occurred nine days after fellow former Temptation Damon Harris’s death. A public viewing was held in the evening March 15 at the church at Forest Lawn in Cypress California. Funeral services were held the next day at Forest Lawn.