Eddie Kendricks

kendricks1December 17, 1939 – October 5, 1992

Eddie James Kendrick grew up singing in church in his native Alabama. Through the church choir, he met a young man named Paul Williams and the two quickly formed a doo-wop group called the Cavaliers. They moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1957 and, shortly thereafter, to Detroit where they enjoyed some local success rebranded as the Primes1. In 1961, the Primes broke up, but Kendricks (as he was now calling himself) and Williams joined another group called the Elgins. The Elgins would soon become the Temptations.

Eddie served as the tenor of the group and provided a falsetto lead vocal on mega hits like “Get Ready”, “Just My Imagination” and the group’s first hit single: “The Way You Do the Things You Do.” Kendricks stayed with the Temps for 10 years, through arguably the group’s biggest successes. By the 1970s, he had grown weary of the group’s new psychedelic direction and his friend, Paul Williams – long struggling with health and substance abuse issues – was hardly around. Growing tensions between Kendricks and co-founders Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin became too much and Eddie left. He launched a modestly successful solo career and was the only Temptation to score a #1 hit as a solo artist…with 1973’s Disco anthem “Keep on Truckin.”

The 1980s found Kendricks in and out of various Temptations reunion projects including the 1982 reunion album and a Temps splinter tour with David Ruffin and Dennis Edwards. The Temptations were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Two years later, Kendricks was officially diagnosed with lung cancer – an illness that was detected several years earlier, but for which he chose not to seek treatment. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to slow the cancer, Eddie Kendricks died in a Birmingham hospital in 1992. He was 52.


Elmwood Cemetery – Birmingham, AL

Specific Location

Block 47; Grab a map, locate Block 47 at the intersection with the road between Blocks 24 and 25. Eddie is buried two rows behind a marker with the name BAKER on it, on the back side of the SIMPSON marker.

1 – The Primes enjoyed enough success in Detroit that they spawned an all-girl spin-off group called the “Primettes”…who would later change their name to the “Supremes.”


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