February 27, 2013 – Richard Street (The Temptations) was born on October 5, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan.
Born and raised in Motown, he was the first member of the Temptations to actually be a native of the city which served as Motown’s namesake and hometown; all of the previous members were born and at least partially raised in the southern United States. He was a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1993.
Street was the lead singer of an early Temptations predecessor, Otis Williams & the Distants, and took the spotlight on their local hit “Come On”. The Distants also included future Temptations Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Elbridge “Al” Bryant, who left The Distants and their record deal with Johnnie Mae Matthews’ Northern Records to form The Elgins (later The Temptations) with Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. After their departure, Matthews had Street briefly lead a new Distants group in the early 1960s.
During the mid-1960s, Street performed with a Motown act called The Monitors, who had a hit in 1965 titled “Say You” which the Temptations included on one of their albums, and a minor hit with 1966’s “Greetings (This is Uncle Sam)”.
Street knew the Temptations and Otis Williams, in particular, having worked for Motown in quality control and through his vocal work with the Distants and the Monitors. By the late-1960s, Street was being called upon to travel with The Temptations and sing Paul Williams’ parts from off-stage, while Paul Williams, who suffered from both alcoholism and sickle-cell disease, danced and lip-synched onstage. Street officially replaced Paul Williams in mid-1971, after both Williams and Eddie Kendricks left the group.
A number of the Temptations’ best-selling hits feature Street’s lead vocals, including “Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)” (1971), “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” (1972), “Masterpiece” (1973), and was featured solo on “Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)” (1973) as well as the album cuts “The First Time I Saw Your Face” and “Firefly” from the All Directions (1972) and A Song for You albums (1975), respectively.
Street and Damon Harris traded leads on “1990”s tune “Heavenly.” He and old Distants bandmates Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin endured a number of lineup changes over the two decades Street was a Temptation, during which time Dennis Edwards, Ricky Owens, Damon Harris, Glenn Leonard, Louis Price, Ron Tyson, and Ali-Ollie Woodson all served as members of the group at various times.
Richard Street died of a pulmonary embolism at age 70 on February 27, 2013.