Former lead singer of The Temptations

Born: February 3, 1943;

Died: February 1, 2018

DENNIS Edwards, who has died aged 74, was a former lead singer of The Temptations who joined the band just as they were moving in a radically new direction. Out went the falsetto soul of singer David Ruffin and in came the grittier sound associated with the new man Edwards. Combined with more overtly political lyrics, it was a sound that came to be known as psychedelic soul, and was hugely significant in the evolution of R&B and soul music.

The new line-up also went on to have some of the band's biggest hits. They had already been successful with songs like My Girl and Get Ready, but, with Edwards on board, they scored hits with Cloud Nine, which spoke about the struggles and pains of poverty, and Ball of Confusion, which tackled race and segregation: "People movin' out, people movin' in./Why, because of the colour of their skin./Run, run, run, but you sho' can't hide." They also had a big hit with the 1972 chart-topper Papa Was a Rolling Stone, which won the band a Grammy.

Edwards had always been in bands, but his time with The Temptations was erratic. He was first asked to join in 1968 because of David Ruffin's unpredictable behaviour and drug-taking, but things took a while to settle down and nine years later, Edwards himself was sacked, although he later toured in various versions of the band.

He was born in Fairfield, Alabama, where his father was a preacher and sang in the choir of his father's church. He then joined the gospel singing group the Mighty Clouds of Joy before forming his first band Dennis Edwards and the Fireballs.

He was then spotted by Motown Records after completing a stint of military service and was placed on a retainer while they looked for an opportunity for him. Eventually, he was drafted into the Contours after his lead singer fell ill.

Three years after he left The Temptations, he was back touring with them again and in 1982 took part in a reunion tour which also featured Ruffin. An album Reunion and a single Standing on the Top were also released and did fairly well.

By 1983, Edwards had left the band again and attempted a solo career. He also reached No 2 in the American R&B charts with Don't Look Any Further, a duet with Siedah Garrett. He joined The Temptations for a final stint from 1987 to 1989.

Dennis Edwards was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with The Temptations in 2013 and received a lifetime achievement Grammy, again with his fellow Temptations.

He was married to Ruth Pointer, of the Pointer Sisters, but that ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife Brenda, five daughters and a son.