100 Greatest Singers

65

David Ruffin

Petard Collection/Redferns

Born January 18th, 1941 (died June 1st, 1991)
Key Tracks "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "My Girl," "Walk Away From Love"
Influenced Hall and Oates, Michael Jackson, Rod Stweart

Motown founder Berry Gordy said that any of the five Temptations could have been a lead singer, but it was David Ruffin who stood out most from the pack. In contrast to his heavenly-voiced partner, Eddie Kendricks, Ruffin sang as if every word was a plea — pain and desperation filled his lead vocals on "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "(I Know) I'm Losing You" and "I Wish It Would Rain." "His voice had a certain glorious anguish that spoke to people on many emotional levels," says Daryl Hall, who briefly recorded and performed with Ruffin in the Eighties. "I heard in [his voice] a strength my own voice lacked," said Marvin Gaye, who added that Ruffin's work "made me remember that when a lot of women listen to music, they want to feel the power of a real man."

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