“I’m gonna walk away from love…
before love breaks my heart”
As the lead singer of the classic Temptations lineup, David Ruffin sang such iconic Motown hits as “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”. He was only frontman of the group from 1963 to 1968, but left an indelible mark on the Motown sound and popular music in general. After his departure, the Temps never matched the popularity they had during their mid 60’s heyday.
Ruffin’s voice was known to be among the most powerful in soul. From the deepest growls to the highest falsetto, he seemed to have an unlimited range with phrasing to match. Once he sang a song, it was instantly stamped and defined by his inimitable style. His stage performance almost matched his vocal chops, with his over the top showmanship influencing many who followed in his footsteps. Michael Jackson would later claim him as a key influence.
While David Ruffin’s string of hits with the Temptations did not continue into his solo ventures, many songs were released as singles in the U.S. and abroad and are now considered unheralded classics. ‘Walk Away From Love’ was a song released on the 1975 album “Who I Am”, produced by Van McCoy and it became Ruffin’s last charting hit. Featuring McCoy’s masterful production and orchestrations, ‘Walk Away From Love’ features one of the most unheralded vocal performances in the soul cannon. Ruffin displays all facets of his instrument during the song, showing an unrelenting passion coupled with a sweet restraint in the song’s chorus.
While the song faired well commercially, it still did not reach the epic peaks of popularity the Temps songs did. Before his untimely death in 1991, David Ruffin released a string of 12 strong solo releases on Motown and Warner Brothers, toured with Hall and Oates and reunited on several occassions with Eddie Kendrick and the other former Temptations. It is worth the effort to rediscover the greatness of the voice many consider the heart of The Temptations.