Nedra Ruffin, daughter of David Ruffin of the Temptations, died May 19 of COVID-19
This obituary is part of “We Will Remember,” a series about those we’ve lost to the coronavirus.
Nedra Ruffin, daughter of the late R&B singer David Ruffin of the Temptations, was described as a loving, kind, sweet individual with a heart of gold.
Ruffin, 58, died May 19 at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak as a result of complications from COVID-19.
The Detroit resident attended Mumford High School in Detroit, and her career included modeling and bartending. She also did direct care work with hospice patients and taught ballroom dancing and hustle classes.
“She loved to dance,” said her daughter Terea Frazier.
Frazier, who was an infant when David Ruffin died, recalls her mother sharing stories of going to concerts, spending time in the studio with her father and riding in his convertible Corvette.
“She did a lot with him,” she said.
“We were always known as twins coming up,” Cheryl Ruffin-Robinson, who's close in age to Nedra Ruffin, said of her sister. “I’m going to miss her loving, giving ways. She gave so much of herself to others. And I’m going to miss our get-togethers.”
Lamont Robinson, founder and CEO of the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame and brother-in-law to Ruffin, said Nedra Ruffin was instrumental in getting the renaming of Parkside Street in Detroit to David Ruffin Avenue in June 2019.
A street in Meridian, Mississippi, was also renamed David Ruffin Boulevard in October 2019.
Known as NeNe and Special, Ruffin enjoyed traveling and spending time with her grandchildren.
She was active in assisting Narcotics Anonymous and was proud of being clean from drugs for 28 years, according to Frazier.
Ruffin, who had dealt with various ailments in recent years, began feeling ill after returning home from a recent trip to Las Vegas.
She was confused, fatigued and having trouble breathing, and was admitted to the hospital the day after Mother’s Day.
Soon after that, she was in intensive care and put on a ventilator, according to Ruffin-Robinson, who said, “She never came off.”
Ruffin is survived by her mother, Sandra Ruffin; a son, Clifford Pearson, and daughters, Terea Frazier and DeAiress Frazier; six grandchildren; sisters Cheryl Ruffin-Robinson (Lamont) and Kimberly Mone’ Ruffin Jones, and a brother, David Ruffin, Jr.
Viewing is 1-4 p.m. Thursday at Swanson Funeral Home, 14751 W. McNichols, Detroit.
A homegoing celebration starts at 12:30 p.m. Friday at Oasis of Hope Christian Church, 933 W. Seven Mile, Detroit.
If you have a family member or close friend who has died from COVID-19 and you would like to share their story, please visit our memorial wall and select “Share a story.”
Brendel Hightower is an assistant editor at the Detroit Free Press.Contact her at [email protected]
Welcome to my JUKEBOX: Please select a song and feel free to leave me some feedback. Rate it, if you will....I do appreciate it in advance. I can be also reached at the following email address: [email protected] or [email protected]
BIO: David Ruffin Jr Understands the expectations that have been placed upon him by people, but once they hear his incredible voice on stage or in the studioit becomes pleasantly obvious. He knows as the son of the late singer David Ruffin, the legendary former lead singer of the Temptations, that there will always be comparisons to his fathers great vocal legacy. While living up to such expectations would be a difficult task for some to handle, David Jr., a native of Detroit has risen to the task time after time and is always striving to improve. Blessed with a tremendous and powerful first and second tenor and an equally impressive Alto and Falsetto, D-Ruff can be heard on numerous hip hop projects by such stellar artists as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Benzino, Capone as well as local Detroit talent such as Dave Mays, Amir, Young Ruff, The Boss and Diamond. He has also performed with the legendary singing group, The Dramatics. He has prepared several independent recordings over the last four years, and has emerged as an excellent songwriter. Highly touted music publications such as The Rolling Stone, The Source and Rap Pages have lauded David Jr as talented and is up-and-coming. However, perhaps his most thrilling moment in music came when he heard his voice on the radio playing a song that Dr. Dre, Snoop, and he wrote and recorded, a world wide, multi-platinum song, called, Gin & Juice. A Hip-Hop Classic now! David Jr, who currently lives in New York, cites his father, along with 80s crooner, Alexander ONeal and the great Marvin Gaye as the major influences on his style of singing. However, D-Ruff in quick to point out that he is proud to have crafted his own, unique vocal identity. He described his style of singing as, Ruff in Risqué./ R&B with a rough (Ruff) edge, on the rocks w/a twist. In addition to singing, David Jr is far from ears, and an unsurprisingly talented actor as well. He has recently appeared and sang in the national hit stage plays such as All Men Cant Be Dogs and P.M.S. - Power, Money and Sex. David Jr, his fellow actors and the entire production have received raved reviews for their collective work in the play. Also during the summer of 2002, David played the lead in three dramatizations for a Showtime Red Shoe Diary type special, produced by Frozen Television So with acting, singing and song writing under his belt, David Jr is also exploring voice over opportunities for animation and commercial projects. David Jr is also mulling over several other television, stage and film projects in hopes of broadening the scope for success and knowledge in and of the arts collectively. A solo CD project is most important to DRj. He is currently piecing a new demonstration in hopes of an early release in early 2006, and is looking forward to music collaborations with many of his favorites. Now of course youd think David Jr grew up listening studiously to the hits that his father recorded with the Tempts, such as: My Girl, Aint too proud to beg, Beauty is only skin deep, Since I lost my baby, I wish it would rain and othersHowever, it was sports, not singing that caught David Jrs attention and occupied his time. After high school, David Jr moved to Connecticut, where he began rapping, much to the chagrin of his father. He recalled that his father didnt approve of Jr being in the rap game, but instead encouraged him to work harder on his vocal chops for the R&B genre. David Jr listened to his pops advice Now David is well prepared to further elevate the Ruffin name in the entertainment world. Its in his Blood. "If yoy dont know....UBETTASKSUMBODY"
yes.....I play keys, but not as well as I play Madden or SoCom1-2-3...lol
Marvin Gaye, Antia Baker, Alexander O'Niel, David Ruffin, Luther, Faith, Joe. R. Kelly?..an influence...haha......hell to-tha-naw...(i'm clownin that guy...please believe me)
A Pen.....A Notebook and a Microphone....
I am very honored that you (the real people), have blessed me by loaning me your ear. I hope that you weren't or aren't disappointed. Thanx in Advance, David Ruffin Jr...(a.k.a. D-RUFF)
American singer (1941–1991)
David Eli Ruffin (born Davis Eli Ruffin, January 18, 1941 – June 1, 1991) was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of the Temptations (1964–68) during the group's "Classic Five" period as it was later known. He was the lead voice on such famous songs as "My Girl" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg."
Known for his unique raspy and anguished tenor vocals, Ruffin was ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2008. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 for his work with the Temptations. Fellow Motown recording artist Marvin Gaye once said admiringly of Ruffin that, "I heard [in his voice] a strength my own voice lacked."
Ruffin was born Davis Eli Ruffin on January 18, 1941, in the rural unincorporated community of Whynot, Mississippi, 15 miles from Meridian, Mississippi. He was the third born son of Elias "Eli" Ruffin, a Baptist minister, and Ophelia Ruffin. His siblings were Quincy B. Ruffin, Reada Mae Ruffin, and Jimmy Lee Ruffin. Ruffin also had another sister Rosine, who died in infancy.
David Ruffin's parents were both natives of Mississippi. His father Eli worked as a truck driver at numerous lumber mills, and his mother Ophelia worked out of their home. Eli's parents had moved from Alabama to Mississippi, because of the harsh circumstances of living after the American Civil War. Prior to living in Alabama, David Ruffin's great grandparents, John Ruffin and Clara Ruffin, had moved from Bertie County, North Carolina. John Ruffin was a Civil War Veteran, fighting with the 14th United States Colored Heavy Artillery Regiment.
Childhood and adolescence
Ruffin's father was strict and at times violently abusive. Ruffin's mother died from complications of childbirth ten months after his birth in 1941; and his father later married Earline, a schoolteacher, in 1942. As a young child, Ruffin, along with his other siblings (older brothers Quincy and Jimmy, and sister Reada Mae) traveled with their father and their stepmother as a family gospel group, opening shows for Mahalia Jackson and The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, among others. Ruffin sang in the choir at Mount Salem Methodist Church, talent shows and wherever else he could. In 1955, at the age of 14, he left home under the guardianship of a minister, Eddie Bush, and went to Memphis, Tennessee, with the purpose of pursuing the ministry.
At 15, Ruffin went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, with the jazz musician Phineas Newborn, Sr. There, they played at the Fifty Grand Ballroom and Casino. Billed as Little David Bush, Ruffin continued to sing at talent shows, worked with horses at a jockey club and eventually became a member of The Dixie Nightingales. He also sang with The Soul Stirrers briefly after the departure of Johnnie Taylor. It was in Ruffin's travels as a teenager that he met such later popular musicians as Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Frankie Lymon, Bobby Womack, The Staple Singers, Swan Silvertones and The Dixie Hummingbirds.
After some of his singing idols such as Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson had left gospel music and gone secular, Ruffin also turned in that direction. Eddie Bush and his wife, Dorothy Helen, took the then-16-year-old Ruffin to Detroit, Michigan, where his brother Jimmy was pursuing a career in music while simultaneously working at the Ford Motor Company.
After moving to Detroit with the Bushes, Ruffin recorded his first released record with the songs "You and I" (1958) b/w "Believe Me" (1958). These songs were recorded at Vega Records and released under the name "Little David Bush", using the last name of his guardian. Ruffin would later recall how he initially recorded "a different kind of music", strongly influenced by the smoother pop and R&B of the time, when he first recorded in Detroit for Vega.
In 1957, Ruffin met Berry Gordy Jr., then a songwriter with ambitions of running his own label. Ruffin lived with Gordy's father, a contractor, and helped "Pops" Gordy do construction work on the building that would become Hitsville USA, the headquarters for Gordy's Tamla Records (later Motown Records) label. Ruffin's brother Jimmy would eventually be signed to Tamla's Miracle Records label as an artist.
Ruffin also worked alongside another ambitious singer, Marvin Gaye, as an apprentice at Anna Records, a Chess-distributed label run by Gordy's sister Gwen Gordy Fuqua and his songwriting partner Billy Davis.
Asked about Ruffin in the Detroit Free Press in 1988, Gordy Fuqua said: "He was very much a gentleman, yes ma'am and no ma'am, but the thing that really impressed me about David was that he was one of the only artists I've seen who rehearsed like he was on stage". According to Ruffin, both he and Gaye would pack records for Anna Records.
Ruffin created music as both the vocalist and drummer in the Voice Masters, a doo-wop style combo and eventually started recording at Anna Records, and recorded the song "I'm in Love" b/w "One of These Days" (1961), with the Voice Masters, a group which included future Motown producer, Lamont Dozier. Other group members included members of The Originals: Ty Hunter, CP Spencer, Hank Dixon and (Voice Masters and The Originals founder) Walter Gaines. (At one time, The Voice Masters also included another future Temptations member, Melvin Franklin, one of numerous people David would claim as a cousin). Ruffin did sign to Anna Records as a solo artist, but his work in that time was unsuccessful.
Ruffin eventually met an up-and-coming local group by the name of the Temptations. His older brother Jimmy went on a Motortown Revue tour with the Temptations, and he told David that they needed someone to sing tenor in their group. He shared his interest in joining the group with Otis Williams, who also lived in Detroit.
In January 1964, Ruffin became a member of the Temptations after founding member Elbridge "Al" Bryant was fired from the group. Ruffin's first recording session with the group was January 9, 1964. Ruffin and his brother both auditioned to be join the group, but they ultimately chose David after he performed with the them on stage during the label's New Year's Eve party in 1963.
With the Temptations (1964–1968)
Main article: The Temptations
After joining the Temptations, the bespectacled Ruffin initially sang backgrounds while the role of lead singer mostly alternated between Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. He did sing a few lead parts, both on stage and in the studio, during his first year with the group, but his leads on these studio tracks would not be released for over a year, as they were not considered good enough to showcase his vocals. However, Smokey Robinson, who produced and co-wrote most of the Temptations' material at this point, saw Ruffin during this period as a "sleeping giant" in the group with a unique voice that was "mellow" yet "gruff." Robinson thought that if he could write just the 'perfect song' for Ruffin's voice, then he could have a smash hit. The song was to be something that Ruffin could "belt out" yet something that was also "melodic and sweet". When Robinson achieved his goal, the song, "My Girl", was recorded in November 1964 and released a month later. It became the group's first number-one single in 1965. "My Girl" subsequently became the Temptations' signature song, and elevated Ruffin to the role of lead singer and frontman.
The follow-ups to "My Girl" were also extremely successful singles, and included the Ruffin-led hits "It's Growing" (1965), "Since I Lost My Baby" (1965), "My Baby" (1965), "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (1966), "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" (1966), "(I Know) I'm Losing You" (1966), "All I Need" (1967), "(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need" (1967), "I Wish It Would Rain" (1967), and "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" (1968). Ruffin also shared lead vocals on the 1967 hit single "You're My Everything" with Eddie Kendricks. The tall, 6'3", Ruffin's passionate and dramatic performances endeared him to the Temptations' audiences and fans. According to Otis Williams, Ruffin (playfully nicknamed "Ruff" by the group) was a natural comedian and a hard-working singer when he first joined the group.
Ruffin's most notable non-vocal contribution to the Temptations was the masterminding of their trademark four-headed microphone stand. This enabled the other members to sing and do their dances without having to crowd around one microphone while the lead singer would sing into a separate microphone.
By 1967, however, difficulties with Ruffin became an issue for the group. He became addicted to cocaine and began missing rehearsals and performances. Refusing to travel with the other Temptations, Ruffin and his then girlfriend, Tammi Terrell, traveled in a custom limo (with the image of his trademark black rimmed glasses painted on the door). After the Supremes had their name changed to Diana Ross & the Supremes in early 1967, Ruffin felt that he should become the focal point of the Temptations, just as Diana Ross was for her group, and began demanding that the group name be changed to David Ruffin & the Temptations. This led to a number of disagreements between Ruffin and the group's de facto leader, Otis Williams.
In addition to the group's problems with Ruffin's ego, he began inquiring into the Temptations' financial records, demanding an accounting of the group's money. This caused friction between Ruffin and Gordy.
In June 1968, the Temptations agreed that Ruffin had finally crossed the line when he missed a June 22 Cleveland, Ohio, date with the Temptations in order to attend a performance by his new girlfriend, Barbara Gail Martin (Dean Martin's daughter). Ruffin was fired on June 27, and replaced with Dennis Edwards, a former member of the Contours, who had been a friend of Ruffin and the group as a whole beforehand. Though Ruffin himself personally encouraged Edwards to take his place, Ruffin began turning up unannounced at Temptations concerts during Edwards' first few dates with the group. When the group started to perform a Ruffin-era song such as "My Girl" or "Ain't Too Proud to Beg", Ruffin would suddenly walk on to the stage, take the microphone from Edwards' hands, and steal the show, embarrassing the group but entertaining the fans. According to Edwards, the adulation and Ruffin's pleas convinced the other four Temptations to give Ruffin a second chance, but when he arrived late to what was to be his return show with the group in Gaithersburg, Maryland, the Temptations decided to keep Edwards and drop considerations of rehiring Ruffin.
In October 1968, Ruffin filed suit against Motown Records, seeking a release from the label and an accounting of his money. Motown counter-sued to keep the singer from leaving the label and eventually the case was settled. The settlement required Ruffin to remain with Motown to finish out his initial contract (Ruffin joined Motown as a solo artist and always had a separate contract from the other Temptations, which some felt caused a lot of the in-fighting within the group).
Ruffin's first solo single was a song originally intended for the Temptations, "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)". The single (from the album also entitled My Whole World Ended) was released in 1969, and reached the US Pop and R&B Top Ten. This was followed by the 1969 album Feelin' Good. A third album, titled David, was recorded in 1970–71, but was shelved by Motown and did not see commercial release until 2004.
In 1970, Ruffin recorded an album with his brother Jimmy, I Am My Brother's Keeper, for which they had minor hits with "When My Love Hand (Comes Tumbling Down)" and "Your Love Was Worth Waiting For". His next official release for Motown did not arrive until 1973 when David Ruffin was released. While his solo career initially showed promise, Ruffin went into decline, reportedly in part because of his cocaine addiction and the lack of support from Motown.
His final top ten hit was "Walk Away from Love" in 1975, produced by Van McCoy, which reached #9 on the Pop Charts. It was also Ruffin's only entry into the UK Charts (as a solo artist), and was a hit there as well, making it into the Top Ten (peaking at #10) in early 1976. The single sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in February 1976.
Other notable recordings from Ruffin's solo career include "I Lost Everything I've Ever Loved" (1969); the gospel-inflected "I'm So Glad I Fell For You" (1970); "Blood Donors Needed (Give All You Can)" (1973); "Common Man" (1973) (which was sampled on the 2001 Jay-Z song "Never Change"); "No Matter Where" (1974); "Who I Am" (1975); "Statue of a Fool" (1975); and cover versions of the Jackson Five's "I Want You Back", "Rainy Night in Georgia" (popularized by Brook Benton)—both recorded for the shelved 1970 album; and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' "I Miss You" (1973), featuring Eddie Kendricks (later Kendrick).
"Although some blame Ruffin's very intermittent post-Tempts success on deliberate corporate neglect, I've never found even his biggest solo hits all that undeniable—ungrouped, his voice seems overly tense whether it's grinding out grit or reaching for highs."
—Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981)
After leaving Motown in 1977, Ruffin recorded for Warner Bros. Records, releasing the albums So Soon We Change (1979) and Gentleman Ruffin (1980). He later signed with RCA Records, accompanied by former Temptations colleague Eddie Kendricks, who chose to rekindle their friendship when Kendricks himself started experiencing problems with the Temptations.
In 1982, Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks re-joined the Temptations for the recording of their album Reunion and a tour to promote the album. The album included the R&B hit "Standing on the Top" with Rick James. The reunion tour was short-lived, however, as Ruffin started to miss shows as a result of his cocaine addiction, leading the group to be fined thousands of dollars. Otis Williams fired Ruffin from the group for the second and final time (along with Kendricks, whose voice was weakened due to heavy smoking) by Christmas 1982.
Ruffin started touring with Kendricks (who dropped the "s" from his last name at this time) as a duo act in 1985. That year, longtime Temptations fans Hall & Oates teamed up with Ruffin and Kendrick to perform at the re-opening of the Apollo Theater in New York. Their performance was released as a successful live album and single. The four singers also sang a medley of Temptations hits at Live Aid on July 13, 1985. In 1985, a live medley of "The Way You Do the Things You Do" and "My Girl" was released by Hall & Oates featuring Ruffin and Kendrick. It reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100, #12 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #40 on the R&B chart. The single earned Ruffin his first and only Grammy nomination.John Oates later wrote a minor hit single for Ruffin and Kendrick, but the two duos fell out, allegedly due to Daryl Hall's objections to Ruffin's heavy drug use.
After being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Temptations in 1989, Ruffin, Kendrick and Dennis Edwards began touring and recording as "Ruffin/Kendrick/Edwards: Former Leads of The Temptations". In 1991, they completed a successful month-long tour of England which grossed nearly $300,000. At the time of his death they were planning a European tour. He had finished recording the single "Hurt the One You Love" for Motorcity Records.
Relationships and children
Ruffin was married twice. His first marriage was to Sandra Barnes in 1961, with whom he had three daughters, Cheryl, Nedra and Kimberly. He had a son with his long-term girlfriend, Genna Sapia, whom he met in 1964. She named their son David E. Sapia, but Ruffin later changed his name to David Eli Ruffin, Jr. The three lived together for years. In 1976, Ruffin married Joy Hamilton. After his death, Sapia would add "Ruffin" to her last name in tribute to their relationship, and for continuity with her son. In 2003, Sapia-Ruffin published A Memoir: David Ruffin--My Temptation, which details Ruffin's infidelity and abusive behavior.
In 1966, Ruffin began dating Tammi Terrell after she joined the Motortown Revue; opening for the Temptations. They had a tumultuous relationship. Ruffin surprised her with a marriage proposal, but after she announced their engagement onstage she learned he was already married. Ruffin became increasingly violent towards Terrell as his drug abuse worsened. Terrell ended their relationship after Ruffin hit her in the head with his motorcycle helmet in 1967. Though she had migraines since childhood, Terrell told Ebony magazine in 1969 that she believed her emotional state during this relationship was a contributing factor to her headaches. Terrell died from a brain tumor in 1970.
At the time of his death, Ruffin had been living in Philadelphia since 1989 with his girlfriend Diane Showers, who met him as a 14-year-old fan.
Drug addiction and legal issues
Ruffin first sought treatment for his drug addiction in 1967.
In 1978, Ruffin was arrested at a birthday party in Memphis. He was charged with disorderly conduct "for refusing several requests" to leave the area after he allegedly made threats against some policemen and their families while being transported to jail. Ruffin denied making threats and was released on his own recognizance.
In 1982, Ruffin was charged $5,000 and sentenced to six months in a low-security prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, for failing to pay taxes amounting to more than $310,000 over three years (1975–77). He served four months and was released early for good behavior.
On May 19, 1986, he pleaded no contest to a charge of receiving and concealing stolen property worth less than $100 (a Colt .32-caliber handgun) and was fined $50 plus $100 in court costs. Charges of assault and battery and receiving stolen property worth more than $100 were dropped.
In July 1987, Ruffin spent a night in jail after he was arrested after a raid at a Detroit house. He was charged with cocaine possession with intent to distribute less than 20 grams of cocaine. He was released after posting a $1,500 bond. Ruffin was found not guilty of possession, but was found guilty of using the drug. He was sentenced to two years' probation and 50 days of community service. In 1989, he was ordered to enter a drug rehabilitation center after violating his probation three times. He completed a 28-day drug treatment program at the Areba Casriel Institute in New York.
After completing a successful month-long tour of England with Kendricks and Edwards, David Ruffin died on June 1, 1991, from an accidental overdose of crack cocaine. Ruffin had reportedly collapsed at a West Philadelphiacrack house, where he had gone with his friend Donald Brown, according to authorities. Brown then drove Ruffin to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he was declared dead at 3:55 a.m. that morning from "an adverse reaction to drugs (cocaine)" after emergency room personnel spent almost an hour attempting to revive him.The Associated Press reported that Ruffin and a man named William Nowell split ten vials of crack cocaine inside of Nowell's West Philadelphia home hours before he died. Although the cause of death was ruled an accident, Ruffin's family and friends suspected foul play, claiming that a money belt containing $40,000 was missing from his body. However, his girlfriend at the time, Diane Showers, was not surprised when she was informed of his death. "When David had a lot of money, he would be able to do things that he wanted to do," she said.
In The Temptations television miniseries, Ruffin's beaten body is depicted as being dumped in the street in front of a hospital where he dies. It was also stated in the miniseries that his body remained unclaimed in a morgue for a week after his death. As a result, Ruffin's estate filed suit against NBC and other major players involved in the making of the series, claiming defamation. According to the plaintiffs in the case, Ruffin was actually taken to the hospital by a limousine and was escorted to the waiting area by his driver, who informed the attendants of his identity. Ruffin's children further stated that his body was claimed by one of them within a few days of his death. Ruffin's estate lost the lawsuit, and the ruling against it was upheld on appeal.
Ruffin's funeral was held at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. Surviving members of the Temptations sang "My Girl". Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin also sang at the funeral.Michael Jackson volunteered to pay for the funeral expenses, but did not attend the service. Jackson, Rod Stewart, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Diana Ross, the Spinners, and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas sent floral arrangements.
Ruffin is buried in section three at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit.
Ruffin had many admirers among his fellow artists. "Nobody could sing like David Ruffin", said his close friend and colleague Martha Reeves (of Martha and the Vandellas fame). His contemporary, label-mate, and long-time acquaintance Marvin Gaye was particularly impressed with the virility of Ruffin's voice. Gaye said Ruffin's work "made me remember that when a lot of women listen to music, they want to feel the power of a real man."
Daryl Hall said, "His voice had a certain glorious anguish that spoke to people on many emotional levels". Ruffin himself said, "I don't know what kind of voice I have, I really don't...it's just about the feeling I get for the song".
Rod Stewart said: "['I Wish It Would Rain'] jumped out of the speakers and ravished my soul". Stewart would later become friends with Ruffin. "His voice was so powerful—like a foghorn on the Queen Mary", Stewart told Rolling Stone in 2005.
The cover art of Ruffin's last album, Gentleman Ruffin, was the inspiration for the art of rapper Wiz Khalifa's mixtape Kush and Orange Juice.
In 2013, David Ruffin was inducted twice into the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame at Cleveland State University. He is inducted as a solo artist and member of the Temptations. Ruffin is also inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame.
In June 2019, the city of Detroit unveiled "David Ruffin Avenue" as the secondary street name where he formerly lived at 17385 Parkside. The ceremony was hosted by the founder LaMont Robinson of the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. It was attended by Ruffin's family and friends including Martha Reeves and Mary Wilson.
On October 26, 2019, the city of Meridian ceremonially named a section of 8th Street near the Temple Theatre "David Ruffin Boulevard." Ruffin was born in nearby rural Whynot, but claimed Meridian as home. Ruffin's family was in attendance for honor and the unveiling of his star on Mississippi's Arts + Entertainment Experience's walk of fame. During the celebrations, Jackson State University's "Sonic Boom of the South" marching band led a parade. Lamont Robinson, head of the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame and also Ruffin's son-in-law, presented the idea to Meridian.
In popular culture
In 1998, NBC aired The Temptations, a four-hour television miniseries about the group's career, Ruffin was portrayed by Leon Robinson (who is usually credited as simply "Leon" as his professional name). The actor won high praise for his performance, but Ruffin's family was upset by the way the series portrayed him, and filed a lawsuit against the series' producers and Otis Williams, whose memoir had been the source material. The case was dismissed in favor of the defendants, with Williams later claiming that he had no real control over the presentation of the material.
Grand Puba of Brand Nubian referenced the singer on the 1990 single "All for One", stating: "I hit a beat and swing a note as if my name was David Ruffin."
Rapper Machine Gun Kelly also referenced the singer on his 2013 song "See My Tears" stating: "Fought every temptation shit, I guess I'm David Ruffin, huh?"
The first song on Fall Out Boy's 2005 CD From Under the Cork Tree was to have been titled "My Name is David Ruffin...and These are The Temptations," but for legal reasons the name was changed to "Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn't Get Sued."
Hip hop group Hotstylz used Ruffin's song and referred his name on their single "Lookin' Boy".
American rap rock group Gym Class Heroes references Ruffin in the 2008 song "Like Father, Like Son (Papa's Song)" from their album The Quilt stating: "I never understood temptation. But I guess we both got a little David Ruffin in us."
Ruffin is portrayed in the Broadway musical, Ain't Too Proud, by Ephraim Sykes.
Main article: David Ruffin discography
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With comrade captain Kaidanovsky-said the driver looking at the stocky blond Mishu-captain Kaidanovsky who came up to them. and the women nothing, the captain said with a grin. -Your-night lights, and I'm thinking of joining the ranks of our glorious fighter aviation, in the person of the comrade captain.
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