Dennis Edwards

February 3, 1943 – February 1, 2018

Dennis Edwards, Jr. was an R&B vocalist who rose to fame in the Motown Records machine of the 1960s Detroit scene. After a brief stint in the military, Edwards signed on retainer with Motown Records. He became the lead vocalist for the Contours, who traveled with, and opened for, the Temptations, with whom he became friends. In 1968, the Temptations fired “Classic 5” lead singer, David Ruffin, and asked Edwards to take his place.
After a rocky couple of months that included Ruffin crashing shows and trying to get back in the group, the dust finally settled and Edwards officially took over the role. Edwards’ lead vocals are prominent in the group’s psychedelic and disco periods when they churned out Grammy winning hits like “Cloud Nine” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” as well as other hits like “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” and the chart-topping “I Can’t Get Next To You.” He later toured with Ruffin and fellow-ex-Temp, Eddie Kendricks, as a sort of lead-vocals-super-group tribute to the Temptations.

Edwards had a modest solo career away from the Temptations, but given the fact that he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the group, he sort of became indelible to them. So, he toured with his own tribute to the Temps throughout the 1990s – much to founder Otis Williams’ legal chagrin.

In his personal life, Edwards was romantically involved with Aretha Franklin and was later married to Ruth Pointer of the Pointer Sisters. Edwards died following a bout with meningitis at the age of 74 years, 363 days.


Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery – St. Louis, MO

Specific Location

Section 1-IIA, Grave 361 – Enter the cemetery’s main entrance, turn right at the flag roundabout and drive until you reach the chapel. Turn right on Omar Bradley Dr. and follow it until you reach the marker for section 1-IIA on your right. Dennis is buried about 5 rows from the curb, 21 spaces to the left (west) of the service road that runs on the east side of the section. The number 361 is on the back side of the marker.


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