David Melvin English (October 12, 1942 – February 23, 1995) better known by the stage name Melvin Franklin, was an American bass singer. Franklin is best known for his role as a member of Motown singing group The Temptations from 1961 to 1994.
Early life and career
Template:Essay-entry Born in Montgomery, Alabama, English, the son of a preacher, moved to Detroit, Michigan at the age of nine. Taking on his mother's married name of Franklin for his stage name, he was a member of a number of local singing groups in Detroit, including The Voice Masters with Lamont Dozier and David Ruffin (a distant cousin of Franklin), and frequently performed with his cousin Richard Street.
One day, walking home from Northwestern High School, Franklin was approached by a large teenager who was adamantly trying to get his attention. Thinking the stranger was a gang member, Franklin ran away and attempted to dodge his pursuer before learning that the young man was Otis Williams, a singer in a local group called Otis Williams and the Siberians. Franklin joined the group as its bass singer, and remained with Williams and Elbridge Bryant when they, Paul Williams, and Eddie Kendricks formed The Elgins in late 1960. In March 1961, the Elgins signed with Motown Records under a new name; The Temptations. He had a fondness for the color blue, and so he was nicknamed "Blue" by his friends and fellow singers. According to Otis Williams, Franklin romantically pursued Supremes singer Mary Wilson at one point.
Best friends for over thirty years, Williams and Franklin were the only two Temptations to never quit the group. One of the most famous bass singers in black music over his long career, Franklin's deep vocals became one of the group's signature trademarks. Franklin sang a handful of featured leads with the group as well, including the songs "I Truly, Truly Believe (The Temptations Wish It Would Rain, 1968), "Silent Night" (Give Love At Christmas, 1980), "The Prophet" (A Song for You, 1975), and his signature live performance number, Paul Robeson's "Ol' Man River". Franklin was usually called upon to deliver ad-libs, harmony vocals, and, during the psychedelic soul era, notable sections of the main verses. His line from The Temptations' 1970 #3 hit "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)", "and the band played on", became Franklin's trademark.
In the late 1960s, Franklin was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the symptoms of which he combated with cortisone so that he could continue performing. The constant use of cortisone left his immune system open to other infections and health problems; as a result Franklin developed diabetes in the early 1980s and later contracted necrotizing fasciitis. In 1978 he was shot in the hand and in the leg while trying to stop a man from stealing his car in Los Angeles. On February 23, 1995, after a number of seizures, he fell into a coma and remained unconscious until death.
In addition to singing, Franklin also worked as a voice actor. In 1984, he provided the voice for the character of "Wheels" in the animated series Pole Position.
In popular culture
- ↑ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 317. CN 5585.
- Template:Title without disambig at the Internet Movie Database
- Melvin Franklin at Find a Gravewn_50_classic_inte... Pete Lewis Interviews Melvin Franklin, 'Blues & Soul' October 1992]