Saturday, June 10, 2006

Inge's Special Request: David Ruffin

As the first verifiable 'person I didn't know yet' to visit my page, Inge got the chance for a special request! She asked for the song Wild Honey by David Ruffin. It's a good example of how a great singer can make a song stand out and be counted, while others suffocate in the disco beat. It's got real raunch to it, and David is roaring like the Mississippi southern soul man he was. And it put me in the mood to play Kung Fu Fighting... Enjoy!

David Ruffin - Wild Honey ('Who I Am' LP Motown M6-849S1) 1975

The track is taken from the album Who I Am, released by Motown in 1975. The album contained Ruffin's hit single Walk Away From Love, and was an affirmation of his musical collaboration with Johnny Bristol and Van McCoy. His next album in 1976, Everything's Coming Up Love, was his most succesful in the UK. David was once again reaching the levels he has know up until the late 60s. But his career would never again fly so high, despite many efforts at relaunching it, and drug addiction to crack cocaine took its toll in 1991.

There are many sites devoted to David Ruffin, his life and his career - for example, this concise, clear one at Soulwalking, and this one at SoulTracks. Between them, the Temptations have created an astounding legacy of music for us to enjoy. Along with the music, however, exists the reality that created it. For example, this line from a biography sums it up succinctly:

"Motown, however, felt that some of his behaviour left a little to be desired and he lost the outright lead singer status by 1968."

The euphemism indicates a well known aspect of David's personality. We are not just talking about a few musical differences, although they were ripping at the heart of the group for years as David and Eddie Kendricks (long jealous of the way David had been elevated above him) jockeyed for top spot. Drugs were making his behaviour and work unpredictable. His domestic abuse towards Tammi Terrell was unconscionable, and hints at the troubled person fame had made him. However, rumours suggesting his actions led to her death are medically unsound, and refuted by those closest to Tammi, including her own sister Ludie Montgomery, who notes that Tammi herself had made her peace with David some time before her untimely death. David's elder brother Jimmy Ruffin has on occasion made unhelpful comments such as suggesting a bit of physical chastisement, even scaring them with a hammer, is good for women. This reflected badly on David's reputation. I hope that in in his later relationships, and with his long-term partner who survived him, David learned more about himself than his brother.

It's a salutory reminder of the real people and real lives, events and pain that fuels the music, may it sound happy or sad, and without considering all those forces driving it, we will do it and the talents that make it an injustice...

Visit Funky 16 Corners new blogsite to hear a great track by Tammi Terrell.

POSTSCRIPT: Inge reminded me of the differing ways in which David Ruffin has been portrayed over the years, and of the rumour mill that surrounded him. I have added a few extra pertinent details in the comments section below, that should have been considered. Also read Susan Whitall's book For the Record: Women of Motown (1998), and the biography by Tammi's own sister Ludie Montgomery, titled My Sister Tommie (2005), which both go into great detail to exonerate David of the most lurid allegation made against him, while not ignoring his problems.

In addition, an aquaintance of David has posted an interesting comment below, in which she describes him as being gentle and caring towards her, and posts some disturbing evidence concerning the week of David's death, missing money and belongings, and suggestions that someone may have orchestrated his death.


Anonymous said...


thank you so much. The timing couldn't have been any better! I was just checking your blog before I am leaving for Germany tomorrow.
Although I do not entirely agree with what is said about the cause of David's being blacklisted by Motown -- there is still a whole lot of controversy about that issue -- I thank you for the article.
I've been following David Ruffin's story for a long time, and there are many doubts about whether what is generally known about David Ruffin is the truth.

Thanks again


Rob Whatman said...

Gute Reise, Inge!

On the topic of David Ruffin, I should make my article a little clearer. I for one am 100% certain that David Ruffin was not in any way responsible for the death of Tammi Terrell. Her illness simply could not be caused by concussion. It was a coicidence that would cast David's behaviour, which could be bad, in an even worse light, and no doubt caused him many moments of reflection in later years.

And, while David had his own personal demons to fight, Eddie Kendricks was just as eager for David to be ousted from the Temptations, and lobbied for it! It was this, combined with David's star behaviour, that led to his dismissal, not his relationship.

Everyone - feel free to disagree and tell me so! I am far from an expert, and I welcome and expect debate. I want to learn from you!

Anonymous said...

I knew David, one of the kindest, most generous gentle souls ever. Not one time did he ever hit me, or offer to hit me. One really must ask, what caused David to loose it with some women. When he would just walk away, they would follow and start the bantering all over again. He was not a man to be pushed or made to feel that he was less than the man he was.

The first thing David told me when we met was, "1.People will tell you I hit Tammy Terrell in the head with a hammer, and 2. they will say I am gay. I did not, and I am not." With that he went on to tell me personal things that I will not tell, they are private, and they should stay that way.

If you ask anyone who truly knew David, they will tell you that yes he was a character, he lived life to the fullest. Did he want to be a druggie, that was by choice, but NO, not deep inside,and he tried many times to stop. At the end, David was once again trying to keep clean. Take a look at all the inconsistencies with his death, and then maybe you too will see that the benge they said he was on, may have been very far from the truth...


June 2, 1991
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Showers said she and Ruffin were considering marriage in January 1992.

Page 208
Deliver Us from Temptation
Tony Turner
During another conversation I learned that David had called his old girlfriend Debbie from London and told her that he would be back soonafter he took care of some business in Philadelphia.

June 3, 1991
New Orleans
Ruth Bowen, Ruffins agent said Ruffin he was thinking about leaving Philadelphia and moving to Las Vegas.

June 3, 1991
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The last time Showers saw Ruffin was (Sunday) a week before he died. They watched televisionThen, he left

June 10, 2004
From the lady David Ruffin was with from Monday, May 27 May 29 1991
Drex I have never known who contacted Eddie. I will ask Reggie if he knows. Because you bring up a very important point. My question is who ever told Eddie the briefcase was not with David, had to know where it was. I talked to Molly just today about this same subject. The only person that could have known that the briefcase was left in the crack house was a person that was with David at that time. If that makes any sense. usually a persons personal effects are given over to the police for the family to claim. I don't understand why anyone would take the briefcase to Diane's. I saw David the week of his death. Drex I never saw a moneybelt. David stayed with me at the hotel from Monday until we left on Wed. He went somewhere and got clothes. I assumed Dianes house. When I spoke to her she said he hadn't been there for a week. I'm going going to see if I can find out who contacted Eddie.

June 10, 1991
Entertainment Tonight
Diane Showers, I had hoped he was in a hotel Jacuzzi since he had all that money.

San Francisco Chronicle
Date: June 3, 1991
Ruffin had lived in Philadelphia since 1989 with his girlfriend, Diane Showers, she said. She said she last saw him on Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

I want to know why the anonymous poster cluttering this person's blog with craziness? we all know who you are didn't even know David you slept with him the same week you met him after stalking him in a club for petes sake he did not respect you sorry ;)

Stacy said...

What does all this Death talk have to do with what the topic is at hand?

Cindy said...

David was arrogant about his talent. In a way, that's understandable because he was scaped hard by life at young age and was dedicated to his craft. The man had a gift and unfortunately, there will always be people who envied what he had. Everyone only takes Otis Williams account into consideration but even some of the things he has said through the years, have been questioned. Certain things do not add up. The whole limo controversy is one instance. Ruffin bought a car with his own money. Not the Temptations' money. Not Otis' money. Not even Motown's money. His money! People seem to forget that. Anybody has the right to do what they want with their money. I have never understood why Otis has felt the need to harp on this. It sounds petty and stupid. If I chose to ride my own car and not the bands', how does that make me 'egotisitical'? Could it be that I just don't want to deal with the all the personalities and be allowed to have some peace by myself? Imagine touring with a group on end for months. After a while, you get sick of each other. Ruffin said it best in Street Gold that "they could have rolled with me if they wanted to." And I believe that. I never got the idea that Ruffin was a petty person. He made have gotten the 'big head' from fame but he wanted also wanted to be a person. Too bad some people have not gotten that.

Cynthia said...

David Ruffin was an amazing talent,as well as one of the best showmen of all times.
Off stage and out of the spotlight he was real people. I agree that there was some envy toward's him within the group he loved. David Ruffin was every inch the star, and in the Temptations hey day the public could not get enough of him.
I regret that David Ruffin and Tammi Terrell never recorded a duet together.It's unfortunate that the rumors surronding Tammi Terrell and David Ruffin's death are still being circulated.

Rene said...

David and Jimmy Ruffin both denied rumors that David Ruffin contributed to the death of Tammi Terrell.
Diane Showers stated she last saw David Ruffin a week before his death.
David Ruffin did hit Tammi Terrell,but I do not believe he killed her. Diane Showers was very good to David Ruffin during his years in Philadelphia. There is no doubt in my mind that she or his ex-wife Sandra ruffin lied about his drug use.
agree with the poster that asked what does the death talk and innuendo have to do with the conversation at hand.
The music world lost 2 talented people in Tammi Terrell and David Ruffin. May they both rest in peace. Much love and respect to both of their families.

Gina Ruffin Moore said...

Thank you for finally clearing up the misinformation in reference to David Ruffin hitting Tami Terrell in the head with a hammer. That never happened. My grandmother was David Ruffin's mother, which makes him my uncle. When David died, Tammi Terrell's family was at the funeral. Terrell's sister also backs up the truth. David never hit Terrell in the head with a hammer. Thank you for setting the record straight.

Anonymous said...

I read in the earlier post about Eddie being eager to put David out the group, but in Martha Reeves book, she says Eddie was reluctant and often threatened to leave after David was put out. Also shortly after Eddie left in 71', he did an interview saying he wanted to leave in 68' after David left and cited the behavior of other group members as the reason (Otis, Melvin).

Anonymous said...


No, David didn't have anything to do with Tammi's dealth and no he didn't hit her in the head with a hammer. According to the book written by Tammi Terrell's sister he hit her in the head with his motorcycle helment, (just as bad as a hammer)!

Anonymous said...

I believe Otis's concern about David and the limo was more about David getting to the shows and being on time which is understandable seeing how many shows David missed, nothing more nothing less. David Ruffin was, still is one of my favorite entertainers truth is he had a very big problem that destoryed his career and finally killed him. I for one am glad Otis refuse to allow it to destroy himself and the group.

Anonymous said...

I have researched the death of David Ruffin since 2003. I have traveled to West Philly, Detroit, Whynot MS/Yantley AL and Las Vegas tracking down information. Ruffin was leaving Philly returning to detroit before he was to leave for another overseas tour. That coupled with his personal betrayal of being with another women, I believe contributed to his death. Trish/Drex No time to set up account...

Bill Jerome said...

The combination of David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks with the Temptations was perhaps the finest voices ever to put sound and rhythm to words and music. No disrespect to Dennis Edwards who is accomplished in his own right. But Dennis is like Kobe to Ruffin's Jordan.

If one can read between the lines regarding the Temptations movie, it was apparent that their was a element of jealousy in reference to David. It's often like that with peeps who are charismatic. The Temptations should have rode with David (and Eddie) until the end.

Anonymous said...

I am a fan of both tammie and david first of all let me state, does it matter what he hit her with? the point still is he hit her! Secondly his drug addiction is something we can't deny and we all know the Bible says pride goes before distruction, is it safe to say David was full of pride

MWatley said...

Alot of famous overtly talented, creative, charismatic people self destruct, maybe the the demons within that drive them to succeed some how drive them to retreat within themselves...the only place that might feel safe. May God protect them now

andy said...

I agree MWaltly. David was a very talented individual. His voice was transparent, you could feel his pain and joy when he sang. That's what made his voice so unique. In my opinion... Not to mention his incredible vocal range.God is filled with grace and mercy.I know he is in a better place!

eb said...

i dont care how u "flower" up mr ruffins life..the facts are the facts, he was an abuser..a woman abuser, a drug abuser. he just happened to have a talent. it is amazing how having a little talent can completely whitewash those other "faults" that would normally make one a villian and social outcast

eb said...

he STILL was an abuser! please dont forget that! people wanted the head of chris brown for what he did to rhianna, why are we forgetting what this man did not only to tammi terrel and the other woman? he may not have contributed to her death but he sure didnt make her life any easier.

Anonymous said...

Make her life easier!! Are you kidding!!!, How can a life become easy when you're hurting someoneelse to gain happiness for yourself (sound like arrogance & no compassion) toward Miss Sandra.I love Tammi's talent but her,Genna,& David were wrong not just him alone. You can't hurt ppl & think it won't come back at you Her death was very unfortunate, don't mean to judge but adultry,fast living, jealousy and happiness don't mix. David &Tammi were living fast and Genna was trying to keep up with him. Don't just blame David he was not alone & if he was kicked out b/c of drugs, then Smokey and Marvin should have been gone. David questioned Gordy about the BOOKS(money) Believe me that was David's demise.

Anonymous said...

check out the david ruffin fan app here

Anonymous said...

i love David Ruffin,i1m born in 1966,but love music soul,beautiful,song the heart <3

Unknown said...

I loved David Ruffin,he was 16 yrs my senior. By me taking his advice made me who I am today.David was straight to the point,my experience with him was totally positive....R.I.P!!

Cookie said...

Tammi was diagnosed with cancer, getting hit with a hammer causes contusions not cancer people. David wasn't a saint like non of us are,we all have demons lurking at times!!!

Cookie said...

I agree!!

Cookie said...

Contusions don't cause cancer!!

Cookie said...

I agree!!

Cookie said...

I agree!!

Cookie said...

Contusions don't cause cancer!!

Anonymous said...

David needed love and understanding in his life he needed a good strong woman to love him

Anonymous said...

No matter what,what he did was awful.How can a man hurt hes wife,the mother of he's child and the nobody deserve to be treated that way.