Motown’s legendary Temptations will be kicking off their 2016 tour in America and will across the Atlantic to the UK in October. I had the chance to catch up with the last original member of the Temptations, Otis Williams, for a chat about his life and upcoming tour.
You have really achieved so much in your life. Did you set out to conquer so much?
OW: Not really. I just wanted to be successful but I didn’t expect so much success. I just really wanted to sing and dance.
The Temptations will be touring the UK again the October 2016. The UK loves The Temptations and you have toured there many times throughout the years. Is there any particular place you enjoy visiting while there?
OW: We love coming to England period. I was just telling someone England is like a second home to The Temptations. We have been coming here since 1964 and here it is 2016. So, it’s always like going home when we play England because we are so wonderfully received by our fans. It’s unending. We are always loved there.
You will be performing at Cliffs Pavilion at Westcliff-on-sea in the UK on your 75th birthday. What a great birthday celebration. Are you planning anything special?
OW: Well, I had a birthday in England, oh I guess about 10 years or so ago. And they gave me a wonderful party. So, who knows, I might have another birthday party once I am there.
I know how much you love performing so I am sure it will be special to you too.
OW: Oh yes. Well, you know we have to go over there and do good because our English fans have been so tremendous to the Temptations. So, you know, we cannot give them any less than what we are known for.
You are still touring and still making everyone keep up with you on stage. How are you able to perform night after night like you do? Can you share the map to the fountain of youth with the rest of us?
OW: That’s right, I do. People tend to think that we entertainers party. And we did when we first started back when we were in our 20’s and 30’s. The key to the fountain of youth is, I will not use myself as a stick to measure by but, I don’t party. After I get done doing a show I go back to my room. I always keep a lot of books, I love reading, and I have my music. And I will get down on the floor and do some push-ups and some crunches and what have you; but that’s it. I go back to my room. You know, when you have the kind of schedule we have the key to being able to do what we do is; I don’t drink, don’t smoke, or party. I stopped trying to be all things to all people. I stopped that a long time ago. It’s about discipline. That’s where I am. Try to keep focus that is my secret.
Do you still find time to sketch and paint?
OW: Yeah I do. I have some recent art pieces I have done. So, yeah, I do get in there and sketch a little bit and I enjoy my painting.
If the technology we have now existed in the 60’s; do you think it would have helped the Temptations or hurt them?
OW: Oh, I think it all depends on the music. Cause you can do all the technology you want but the bottom line is the music.
You have lived from a very unique viewpoint in life. You’ve played for segregated crowds and been served from the back of restaurants. You witnessed the civil rights movement and watched leaders come and go. You have met Presidents Nixson, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Did meeting President Obama transform your view of the world?
OW: Well, it transformed my view of America; to elect a black president. I am just so happy to be able to see it in my life time. Because I never imagined I would ever see that in my life time. So it is wonderful to see. I am thankful that we the people voted that way in our life time and a made an upgrade in accepting our differences.
In many ways the Temptations were a sort of buffer for the racial tension in America in the 60’s. As you have gained experience and evolved in life, has the impact that the Temptations have had on the world changed for you?
OW: I feel that we have maybe touched certain souls of people that make them stop and think about being a better person. Our music has touched people in various situations. We still have wonderful fans who approach us with tears in their eyes who tell us, “you don’t know how much you mean to me growing up”. We have really touched so many people’s lives for the good.