I had the opportunity to speak with Otis Williams, second tenor and co-founder of The Temptations, for a story I was writing on Human Nature and Motown music in Las Vegas.
The Temptations formed in 1961 and were the first Motown act to earn a Grammy Award. Their songs “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” are among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
During the interview I couldn’t help but ask Williams, who continues to tour and perform with The Temptations, what he thinks of the music industry today.
“When I sit and listen to some of the stuff that’s on the radio today some of it I like and a lot of it I don’t. I think we have just got to the point that we accept anything – when I hear artists cussing and almost overtly talking about sex and what have you. You know when we started out back during the ’60s and the ’70s and up to the ’80s we couldn’t even say the word damn. But now they’re saying just about any and everything… I think in a lot of ways it’s not good. It makes me wonder where we’re headed as a people. For the almighty ratings or for the almighty dollar we are just losing our morality,” said Williams.
Despite this, he explained that there are still some artists like Alicia Keys and Prince who are “keeping it too legit to quit” and doing pure and honest music. Being recognized as one of these artists is what continues to inspire Williams.
“I would like to have The Temptations in that idiom as always being known for making music. We will just always stay honest and true to making great music,” said Williams.
His dedication to music isn’t the only thing that remains constant after all these years. He said that performing for people now is the same as it was when the group first formed.
“The thing that was strived for in the beginning is still what we’re striving for years later, like now. Some things don’t change… We just want to go out there and be the best that we can be for the 75 to 95 minutes that we’re out on stage,” said Williams.