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The Temptations still crooning after half a century

There are few groups in music that have managed to remain relevant over the course of five decades. The Temptations, one of the most successful groups in music history, will perform Sunday at the Ohio Theatre.

The group formed in 1960 as The Elgins and soon changed its moniker to The Temptations after discovering there was already another Motown group with their original name.

Critics recognize the group for its on-stage choreography and distinct harmonies. The lineup has changed many times but has always featured at least five male vocalists.

Today the group continues to perform with its one living original member, Otis Williams. The lineup also includes Joe Herndon, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks and Bruce Williamson.

Weeks joined the group in 1997 following his impromptu audition to Williams on a street corner outside of a Hollywood shoe store.

“Otis doesn’t require us to become who we are replacing within the group,” Weeks said in an interview with The Lantern. “The key is having respect for the history of the group while maintaining a sense of authenticity within our sound.”

That history includes 18 No. 1 Billboard singles, 10 Top-10 albums and four Grammy Awards.

Weeks said recent performances have included songs spanning the group’s history, which still requires constant study for him.

“I guess you could say that is a blessed curse of ours, we have so much music to choose from and every fan wants to hear something different,” he said. “The cream always rises to the top, so it is a matter of finding the best material for the audience we are playing for each time.”

The classic hit singles are included in every performance, including “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” Weeks said.

“I can’t even count the number of marriage proposals I have seen in my time with the group,” Weeks said. “When we start singing ‘My Girl’ the guys just start dropping down to their knees and popping the question.”

He said he is still in awe at the ability of music to have such an impact on people, even after all these years.

“It brings together people of all ages and races and seems to make them forget those differences,” he said. “It truly is like therapy for the world.”

Six earlier members of the group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

In May, the group released its 49th album, “Still Here,” which peaked at No. 49 on the Billboard R&B chart.

“A lot of music today has a really short shelf life,” Weeks said. “So for many of the younger members of the audience, we are giving them something they have never seen before and may never get the chance to see again.”

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