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Richard Street History Richard Street - former lead singer with the Temptations

The Early Years

The Distants & Northern Records
Motown - The Beginning & The Monitors
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The Early Years
The story of Richard Street in many ways is the story of Motown. Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1942, Richard grew up in the African-American ghetto that virtually gave birth to soul music. This area, which spanned only a few square miles, produced the likes of Jackie Wilson, Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, David and Jimmy Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Levi Stubbs, Aretha Franklin, Martha Reeves, Stevie Wonder, and scores more. These were not merely people with whom Richard worked; they were his friends and, in truth, a kind of family. He made music with all of them at one time or another. Diana Ross, in fact, was Richard’s first love, the two falling for each other while they were still in junior high.

A natural athlete, Richard was able to excel at almost every sport as a teenager, and his earliest dreams were to play in the major leagues or NBA. But these were the 1950s, and both college and professional  sports  were  not  nearly  as  open  to

Richard Street - former lead singer with the Temptations Richard Street - former lead singer with the Temptations
Motown Motown

December 27, 2006
Richard Street will perform as part
of the activities leading up to the
PetroSun Independence Bowl
Shreveport, La

Hitsville, U.S.A.
Hitsville, U.S.A. Richard Street - former lead singer with the Temptations

African-Americans as they are now. There was also something else that Richard was a natural at - music. The joy of harmonizing with friends like Diana Ross and Melvin Franklin, The Temptation's future bass singer and a distant cousin of Richard's, was something he loved nearly as much as sports, and with time the dream of singing professionally slowly but surely pushed the other dream aside.

The story of Richard and Melvin reveals how tightly Richard's tale is knotted together with the history of The Temptations. His roots in the group go deep; far deeper, in fact, than the 20-plus years he actually spent as a member.

Richard and Melvin, who moved up to Detroit from the South, first met in the mid-1950s, when they were both in their early teens. Richard was already a fan of doo-wop, and the moment he heard Melvin's deep booming voice he knew he had found the perfect bass to balance his tenor. The problem was that Melvin could not yet sing. He was in the midst of a troubled childhood. Melvin loved his mother dearly. But he had a difficult relationship with his stepfather, and moved in with Richard's family for a while. It was Richard's mother, Marguerite - who raised Richard and his brother on her own, their father having abandoned them when Richard was only three - who gave Melvin his famous nickname "Blue." But it was Richard who instilled in him his love for music, and his belief in himself as a singer.

This was 1956, when Frankie Lyman & The Teenagers were topping the charts, and the song everyone played was "Why Do Fools Fall In Love." Richard dragged his pal "Blue" up to the speaker of the little record player he had at home and made him listen to that song over and over, assuring him that in time he would be able to match the bass singer note for note. Nine months later he finally did, starting the career of the man who arguably had the greatest bass voice in the history of rock-and-roll.

Soon Richard's world turned into a place that seemed defined by music. From harmonizing with a quartet of pretty young teenagers who would later downsize to a trio and become the world famous Supremes, to singing duets in high school with his classmate Mary Wells, to crooning doo-wop on street corners with a slew of future Motown stars, the act of making what Richard, using a quote from the Psalms, calls "a joyful noise" became as natural to him as breathing in and breathing out.

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