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The Temptations’ Paul Williams Fought Horrible Disease & Died Tragically at Just 34 in 1973 - Inside His Life & Death

Joe Akins
Sep 19, 2021
10:30 A.M.
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Paul Williams was an obvious talent of his generation and was one of the key players of the Motown group, “The Temptations,” but his life was marred by sadness and ended quickly.

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Hollywood has seen incredible talents, but only a few could boast of the vocal prowess wielded by Paul Willaims, lead singer of the hit Motown group “The Temptations.” Despite his gift, his life was almost doomed to fail.

Williams was born on July 2nd, 1939, in Birmingham, Alabama, and from an early age, Williams loved music and wanted to do nothing else but sing. He met Eddie Kendricks while in elementary school, and both boys bonded over their mutual musical interests.

A picture of "The Temptations’" Paul Williams | Photo: Getty Images

A picture of "The Temptations’" Paul Williams | Photo: Getty Images

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The duo formed their first musical group, "The Primes,” and moved from their hometown in search of work after a while. Unfortunately, The Primes did not find the success they had hoped for and were later disbanded, with everyone returning home.

But that was not the end of their musical aspirations. The group changed their managers and soon rebranded as "The Temptations.” Before long, they became one of the biggest bands of their time, bringing out hits after hits.

The Temptations, David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams, Eddie Kendricks, and Paul Williams in 1967 | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images By James J. Kriegsmann,  Public Domain,

The Temptations, David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams, Eddie Kendricks, and Paul Williams in 1967 | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images By James J. Kriegsmann, Public Domain,

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The band signed to the young Motown label in 1961, and their song “Oh Mother Of Mine” was nothing short of spectacular. Although Kendricks proved to become a bigger name, Williams and Kendricks were the lead vocals for the song.

In their early years, Williams was the lead singer of the group, but once David Ruffin joined the band, he began to play third fiddle, and Ruffin and Kendricks enjoyed the spotlight.

Despite the questions surrounding his death, he remains a hero of music.

 Pictured: The Temptations: Eddie Kendricks, Dennis Edwards, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: The Temptations: Eddie Kendricks, Dennis Edwards, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams | Photo: Getty Images

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While the group enjoyed success and fame, not many fans knew that the talented Williams had a secret struggle. He suffered from sickle-cell anemia, and this illness caused him pain and proved to be a difficult experience for him.

Later on, his troubles increased as he turned to alcohol to cope with the band’s touring schedules and recording sessions. Soon after, he also began to have money problems.

The Temptations, Otis Williams, Dennis Edwards, Eddie Kendricks Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams | Photo: Getty Images

The Temptations, Otis Williams, Dennis Edwards, Eddie Kendricks Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams | Photo: Getty Images

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In 1971, “ The Temptations” had become one of the biggest of the time and produced several chart-topping songs, but by then, Williams’ health had turned for the worse.

His doctor advised him to leave the group on the medical ground after a spot was found on his liver. The news was a bitter pill for Williams; leaving the group he founded worsened his problems.

Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, David Ruffin and Otis Williams of the R&B group "The Temptations" pose for a portrait in 1965 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, David Ruffin and Otis Williams of the R&B group "The Temptations" pose for a portrait in 1965 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

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However, he remained a part of their circle and helped with their choreography. Also, he decided to put his talent to good use and started recording solo materials, but things had peaked in his private battles.

At age 34, Williams was found dead in a car in Detroit with a gun by his side. His death was ruled as suicide, but there are suspicions of foul play. Despite the questions surrounding his death, he remains a hero of music.

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