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Otis Clayborn Williams

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Information about Otis Clayborn Williams

Profile image of Otis Clayborn Williams

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Blue, Purple
Favorite Food:
Chicken, Fish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii, Rio, South Africa
Favorite Quote:
Kiss The Monkey On The Bald Spot.

Birthplace

Born:
10/30/1941
Birth Location:
Texarkana, Texas

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Blue, Purple
Favorite Food:
Chicken, Fish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii, Rio, South Africa
Favorite Quote:
Kiss The Monkey On The Bald Spot.

Birthplace

Born:
10/30/1941
Birth Location:
Texarkana
See how Otis Clayborn Williams is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Baritone vocalist and member of the legendary R&B group The Temptations, Otis Clayborn Williams was born on October 30, 1941 in Texarkana, Texas to Hazel Louise Williams and the elder Otis Miles. At the age of ten, Williams and his mother relocated to Detroit, Michigan, and he began using his mother’s last name. In 1955, Williams attended Detroit’s Northwestern High School where he became classmates with future-Temptations Melvin Franklin and Richard Street. As an adolescent, Williams became interested in music and joined with fellow classmates to form singing groups such as Otis Williams and the Siberians, The El Domingoes and The Distants.

As a member of The Distants, Williams sang baritone alongside Melvin Franklin and Al Bryant and was the co-writer of the group’s hit song “Come On.” However, his fame with The Distants became short lived once the group received an offer from the president of Motown Records, Berry Gordy. In 1961, Williams witnessed The Primes, an R&B group consisting of future-Temptations members Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks, perform live and was encouraged to ask them to join with him, Franklin and Bryant in the creation of The Elgins. The group later changed their name to The Temptations, auditioned for Gordy and was offered a recording contract on the spot. As a member of The Temptations, Williams began performing at local clubs in Detroit, as well as singing backup for various Motown acts.

In 1961, Williams married Josephine Rogers, and that same year, Rogers gave birth to a son, Otis Lamont Williams. Then, in 1962, The Temptations earned commercial success by releasing their album Dream Come True. A year later, original member Al Bryant left the group and was replaced by tenor David Ruffin. Changes in the group’s roster would continue and Williams would see as many as eighteen different group members throughout his tenure with The Temptations. After the death of original group member Melvin Franklin in 1995, Williams became the longest-tenured Temptation.

During the mid-1970s, The Temptations experienced some creative differences with Gordy. In 1976, they signed with Atlantic Records where they remained until 1979 when they returned to Motown. Although Williams would never sing lead on any of the group’s songs, he has been featured on all of the groups’ albums including Meet the Temptations (1964); Temptin’ Temptations (1965); Cloud Nine (1969); Psychedelic Shack (1970); Temptations Do the Temptations (1976); Bare Back (1978); Back to Basics (1983); Together Again (1987) and Phoenix Rising (1998).

In 1988, Williams co-authored with Patricia Romanowski The Temptations, and, in 1998, NBC aired a two-part miniseries based on the book.

Williams lives with his wife, Goldie, in Los Angeles, California.

Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 1, 2008.

See how Otis Clayborn Williams is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Otis Clayborn Williams' interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his maternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls his childhood in Texarkana, Texas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his brother and cousin
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers his paternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls singing in church in Texarkana, Texas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers Sunset Elementary School in Texarkana, Texas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about his musical influences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his stepfather, Edgar Little
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Otis Clayborn Williams lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his education in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers Detroit music during the 1950s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes the music industry in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers meeting Melvin Franklin
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about working with Johnnie Mae Matthews
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls leaving Johnnie Mae Matthews' record company
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers forming the first line-up of The Temptations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls joining Motown Records in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes popular Detroit deejays
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls The Temptations' early recordings
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers the early days of Motown Records
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls Al Bryant's departure and David Ruffin joining The Temptations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers his first marriage and day jobs
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls The Temptations' choreography
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about 'My Girl'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers Motorwn Review tours
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls Diana Ross and Martha Reeves
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes the Motown sound
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls experiencing racism while on tour
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls the social climate of the 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about the Detroit riots
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers Norman Whitfield
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls David Ruffin's departure from The Temptations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about the transition to psychedelic soul
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers the Jackson Five
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls Eddie Kendricks leaving The Temptations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers recording 'Papa Was a Rollin' Stone'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes The Temptations' style
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls the death of Paul Williams
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about Motown Record's move to California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Otis Clayborn Williams' interview, session 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes changes to The Temptations' lineups
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about Motown-inspired movie adaptations
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes Motown Record's legacy in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls The Temptations work in the 1970s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes The Temptations' producers and songwriters
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers with drug abuse within The Temptations
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes the vocal differences in The Temptations
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers Rick James' song, 'Standing on the Top'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls The Temptations work in the 1980s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes copyright conflicts
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes The Temptations' musical style
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about his role in The Temptations
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes media representations of The Temptations
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls friendships in The Temptations
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his avoidance of drugs
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes the importance of punctuality
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about the Funk Brothers
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about James Jamerson
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes touring
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his manager, Shelly Berger
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes The Temptations' accolades
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams remember Marvin Gaye's release of 'What's Going On?'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his family
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes how he would like The Temptations to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about contemporary music
  • Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes how he would like to be remembered