Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams started singing together in church as children….when by their teenage years….they formed a doo-wop quartet in 1955 with Kell Osborne and Wiley Waller….while naming themselves the Cavaliers….then after Waller left the group in 1957….the remaining trio left Birmingham to break into the music business….as they settled in Detroit….where they changed their name to the Primes ….and were under the direction of Milton Jenkins. The Primes soon became well known around the Detroit area for their meticulous performances….that’s when Jenkins later created a sister group, The Primettes ….who were later known as the Supremes. Kendricks was already seen as a “matinee idol” in the Detroit area….while Williams was well received for his baritone vocals.
By 1958, Williams was the leader of a vocal group named Otis Williams and the Siberians. The group included Elbridge “Al” Bryant, James “Pee-Wee” Crawford, Vernard Plain and Arthur Walton. The group recorded a song, “Pecos Kid” for a label run by radio deejay Senator Bristol Bryant. Shortly after its release, the group changed its name to The El Domingoes. Following this, Montgomery native Melvin Franklin replaced Arthur Walton as bass vocalist and Detroit-born Richard Street replaced Vernard Plain as lead singer. Signing with Johnnie Mae Matthews’ Northern Records….the group had their name changed again to The Distants.
The group recorded two Northern singles including “Come On” in 1959 and “Alright” in 1960….as the song “Come On” became a local hit….that’s when Warwick Records label picked the record up for national distribution. Following the release of “Alright”, Matthews appointed Williams the group leader, and the group’s name was changed to Otis Williams & The Distants. During this period, both the Primes and Distants were influenced by other vocal groups including the Miracles…..while other inspirations included the Cadillacs, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, the Drifters, and the Isley Brothers.
After receiving an offer from Berry Gordy to sign with Motown Records….the Distants got out of their contract with Northern Records….however, Mooch Harrell and Richard Street shortly departed from the group….and the remaining members lost use of the Distants name….so, Motown repackaged the group and introduced them as The Temptations….who perform this medley of great Temptations songs to include “You Got A Smile So Bright”….”My Girl”….”Get Ready” and “Just My Imagination” and more live at the Coconut Grove in the late 1970’s.