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Melvin Franklin 2/1995

Melvin FranklinFebruary 23, 1995 – Melvin Franklin was born David Melvin English in Montgomery, Alabama on October 12th 1942.

His biological father was the preacher of the English family’s church in Mobile, who, according to his mother, impregnated her through non-consensual relations. Following David’s birth, Rose English married Willard Franklin and moved to Detroit, her grandmother insisting young David be left behind in her care. David English finally moved to Detroit with his mother and stepfather in 1952 at age ten.

Taking on his stepfather’s surname for his stage name as a teenager, David English—now Melvin Franklin—was a member of a number of local singing groups in Detroit, including The Voice Masters with Lamont Dozier and David Ruffin, and frequently performed with Richard Street. Franklin often referred to Street and Ruffin as his “cousins”.

A young Otis Williams befriended 16 year old Melvin and invited him to become the bass singer in his group called The Distants. Melvin remained with Otis and Elbridge Bryant when they, Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks formed The Elgins in late 1960. In March 1961, the Elgins signed with Motown records under a new name “The Temptations”. He had a fondness for the color blue, and so he was nicknamed “Blue” by his friends and fellow singers.

Best friends for over thirty years, Melvin and Otis were the only two Temptations to never leave the group. He was one of the most famous bass singers in black music, over his long career, his deep vocals became one of the group’s signature trademarks.

Melvin sang some featured leads with the group as well, including the songs “I Truly, Truly Believe”, “The Prophet” and Paul Robeson’s “Ol’ Man River”. He performed with the Temptations from 1961 till he fell ill in late 1994 than lapsed into a diabeteic coma and died 6 days later from a brain seizure on Feb 23, 1995 at the age of 53.


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