Eddie Kendrinks and Mevin Franklin: The iconic voices behind Silent Night by “ The Temptations”
Celebrating an iconic rendition of a popular Christmas Carol.
Over the years, I’ve heard many people, )myself included) who say “ Christmas just ain’t Christmas until you hear The Temptations sing their rendition of Silent Night. I recall one holiday season when for whatever reason I did not hear this popular Christmas tune on the radio. Although I can listen anytime I desire at home, even during the summer, I always enjoy randomly hearing the Temptations singing Silent Night when I’m in the car so I can sing along.
This beloved Christmas song was recorded at Gordy studio on the groups 1970 album titled The Temptations Christmas Card. This year in 2020 the group’s recording of the hymn is 50 years old. The popularity of the tune by the soul singers for half a century is due to in part due to the combination of the voices of the lead singers. Eddie Kendricks had a falsetto voice that gave him a tremendous solo caree once he left the Temotations. Melvin Franklin, a founding member of the group was a bsratone and his voice like no other.
When these two came together singing alternate verses of the Christmas hymn it was electrifying. Sadly both men died at age 52 only a few years apart in the early 1990s. Kendrick passed away from lung cancer and Franklin died of complications from heart failure due to Diabetes and other illnesses. Due to Rhumatoid arthritis and being shot trying to prevent his vehicle from being stolen, Franklin was in a wheelchair during his final years. Eddie Kendricks passed away from lung cancer on October 5, 1992 in Birmingham Alabama. Melvin Franklin died on February 23, 1995 in Los Angela’s.
Both Eddie Kendricks and Melvin Franklin used stage names. Franklin was born Edward James Kendrick on December 17, 1939 in Union Springs Alabama. His parents were Johnny and Lee Bell Kendrick. The singer began going by Eddie and later added the s to his last name when he became an intertwined. Franklin was born David Melvin English in October 12, 1942. His mother was a teenager who had been raped by the local pastor. Melvin later took the sir name Franklin from his stepfather and began using his middle name.
Both Franklin and Kendricks migrated from the south to Detroit and knew each other prior to joining the lengendary group. The two men and even sung together in another band. The Temptations Christmas Card is unique because each of the men in the group sings lead on at least one song. In addition to Kendricks and Franklin, the other original members were brothers Otis and Paul Williams and David Ruffin. In the above photo Ruffin is on the bottom left, Franklin top left, Paul Eilliams top right, Itis Williams bottom right and Kendricks in the center. To date Otis Williams, the founder of the group is the only one still alive.
When they sing what is known as the alto version of Silent Night, Eddie Kendricks does the lead alone. Silent Night is the only Christmas hymn on the album and the other songs are traditional secular holiday carols. There is an even an animated video for the alternate alto version of the Christmas classic which was done to bring the music to new generations. Credit also goes to the Funk Brothers who were a group of Detroit-based session musicians. This group performed the musical backing to the majority of Motown recordings from 1959 until 1972 when Berry Gordy moved the company to Los Angeles.
Many people say this rendition of Silent gives them chills, and goosebumps and puts them in the holiday mood. Melvin Franklin and David Ruffin have sung together on many hit tunes, but their singing lead and the way their vocals are showcased on Sikent Night are quite amazing. To go immediately from listening to that rich high pitched falsetto to the deep string baratone is like having the temperature drop from 85 to 50 in a matter of seconds.
It shocks the system but with this song it’s in a good way. You can purchase The Temptations Christmas Card on Amazon and other online retailers. You can listen to sikent night by clicking the above links or find it on YouTube. One of the most endearing features to the Temptations version of this recording is at the end when Melvin Franklins deep voice says ‘Merry Christmas” from the Temptations and it makes you feel your holiday will be merry and bright.
About the author
Cheryl is a poet, freelance writer, published author and former Newspaper columnist. She has degrees in Psycology and Biblical studies. She enjoys sharing natural cures, and Nostalgia related info. Tips are greatly appreciated.