The Temptations concert originally scheduled for Sept. 23 at Rutland’s Paramount Theatre was postponed until 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8. Last month, an interview wasn’t possible, but the day after his 77th birthday on Oct. 30, Otis Williams, the founder and last remaining original member of the group, talked about the album they released earlier this year, how the group has stuck around so long, and his favorite songs to play these days.
When The Temptations first started, did you think it would last this long?
No way! No darlin’ I had no idea that 58 years later I’d still be doing my Temptation thing.
Why do you think it has, besides the fact that the music is timeless?
You said the right thing: The music is timeless. And one of the things I must say about my group and some of the Motown acts: We went to school on Motown. They had an artist development division that taught us about being in show business, and to not always rely on having a hit record to work. It was called artist development and you had to be there starting about 10 o’clock in the morning until about 6 in the evening, and I think that it’s part and parcel of why we’ve been able to maintain being in show business as long as we have.
We were taught to be able to perform whether we had a hit record or not and still command big dollars. And I just still love doing what I do.
What’s your inspiration to keep doing it after so many years?
Well I always tell people, when I stop and think about this world that revolves around the sun and all the millions of people that live on this planet, there’s only a small microcosm that can say they enjoy doing what they do. I’m not caught in the 9 to 5 regulated hours; all we have to do is work anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half and then we’re through.
The real part of what we do is the traveling. That’s the part that can wear you down if you let it. But I am blessed to be able to bring happiness to people the world over and they enjoy our music still. My stock answer is I’m going to ride the hair off the horse. When I get off the horse the horse’ll be bald.
Do you have a process for writing a song?
Well, a lot of times songs can come to an individual in many different forms. If I get a melody in my head I just hum it over and over until I hone it and give it structure. One thing I’ve learned with Motown, a successful song a lot of times depends on the structure of the song. Once I get the structure that I want, the melody, the lyrics, then it’ll start manifesting into a good song or possibly a great song. I have a single out now on the new album “All the Time” called “Waitin’ on You,” which we will no doubt do once we come there.
Do you have a favorite song to perform these days?
I love doing “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud.” When we go into those songs people grow up out of the ground like trees the way they start standing up. We get a lot of great reaction to our catalog.
If I’m having a bad day, I could listen to “Ain’t Too Proud” and it’ll put me in a better mood immediately.
See? That’s the wonderfulness of great music. It can make your day brighter.
Is there anything in particular you’d like people to know about the show coming up here?
Well, we will definitely be coming up there to do our Temptation thing that we’re noted for. But I would also like to make people aware that The Temptations have a play out and it goes to Broadway in February. The name is “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” and since the play debuted last summer we broke all records.
Thank you so much, it was nice to talk to you.
Thank you. Same here, sugar.