Eddie Kendricks

Eddie Kendricks (born Dec. 17, 1939 — Oct. 5, 1992) was an American soul singer, who served as the lead tenor vocalist in The Temptations between 1961 and 1971. He’s most recognized for his falsetto voice on the hits “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Get Ready,” and “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me).”

As a solo singer, he released nine soul-funk albums on Tamla between 1971 and 1977, scoring hits with “Keep on Truckin’ (Part 1),” “Boogie Down,” “Son of Sagittarius,” “Shoeshine Boy,” and “Get the Cream Off Top.”

Kendricks was born on December 17, 1939 in Union Springs, Alabama, one of five children (and four boys) borne to Johnny and Lee Bell Kendrick. He was mostly raised in the Ensley neighborhood of Birmingham, where he befriended Paul Williams, a fellow member of the children’s church choir. In 1955, they teamed with two fellow peers in the doo-wop combo The Cavaliers.

After gigging the Birmingham clubs, The Cavaliers linked with manager Milton Jenkins, who moved them to Detroit and renamed them The Primes. Jenkins also formed a female counterpart, The Primettes, that later became The Supremes.

In 1961, when Primes singer Kell Osborne flew west to work with Phil Spector, Kendricks and Williams joined three ex-members of Detroit soulsters The Distants. This new five-piece named itself The Elgins, then signed to Motown as The Temptations.

Kendricks first took lead on The Temptations’ third single, “(You’re My) Dream Come True,” released in 1962 on Motown’s Gordy imprint. Though technically a tenor, he typically sang falsetto, as heard on their first big hit, “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” a Billboard #11 and R&B #1 in 1964. Later that year, he sang on the Top 30 hit “Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue).” 

In 1965, The Temptations hit #1 with the Smokey Robinson-penned ballad “My Girl,” sung by new member David Ruffin, their featured vocalist on most hits up through 1968. Kendricks mostly sang background and harmonies during this period, but took the lead on “You’ve Got to Earn It” (the popular b-side of “Since I Lost My Baby,” 1965) and their 1966 anthem “Get Ready.” He trades verses with Ruffin on the 1968 hit “You’re My Everything” (#6 Pop, #3 R&B).

After Ruffin’s departure, Kendricks sang joint lead with the other four Temptations on the 1969/70 hits “Cloud Nine,” “Don’t Let the Joneses Get You Down,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Psychedelic Shack,” and “Ball of Confusion,” produced by Norman Whitfield. Kendricks himself duets with Diana Ross on “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” a joint hit between The Supremes and The Temptations.

Kendricks trades leads with Williams on the wintery ballad “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me),” a 1971 chart-topper. Immediately after its release, Kendricks — tired of Whitfield’s psych-leanings but inspired by Ruffin’s solo success — left the Temptations.


  • All By Myself (1971)
  • People…Hold On (1972)
  • Eddie Kendricks (1973)
  • Boogie Down (1974)
  • For You (1974)
  • The Hit Man (1975)
  • He’s a Friend (1976)
  • Goin’ Up in Smoke (1976)
  • Slick (1977)
  • Vintage ’78 (1978)
  • Something More (1979)
  • Love Keys (1981)
  • I’ve Got My Eyes on You (1983)


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