Transcript: Transcript Motown Magic: How The Temptations’ Glenn Leonard Revolutionised Popular Music


thanks for joining me today. I hope you’ve had a terrific week. Quick reminder that if you’d like to catch up with some of the back episodes of the show, all you have to do is jump onto your favorite podcast platform to listen, while you’re there, hit follow, so you can be kept in the loop. Now I’m so excited to introduce you to today’s special guest. His name is Glen Leonard, and he spent years singing LEED for that legendary Detroit vocal group, the temptations, I’m sure you’re going to enjoy Glen story. Glen, can I just take you back over the years? Sure. You started out live singing at the age of six. And by the time you got to 13 years old, you’re already earning a living on stage and at parties and concerts. And as a recording artist. How did that happen? Well, you know, to go back even just a few years further, I started playing guitar, I guess like about seven or eight. My uncle was a guitar player. And he was also in the military. So when he came back, he bought a brand new guitar. And he you know, everybody was celebrating him coming home and whatnot. And about a week later, he moved to Buffalo, New York. He forgot his guitar. He came back to get it here. My grandfather got the Oghren because he wanted to borrow the car. My granddad wouldn’t let him have the car. So he took he takes to get tarp and breaks it over the potbelly stove.



And I mean, it’s true story. And so I walked around with the neck of the guitar for probably maybe a month. And after that, I guess my mom and dad saw that I was, you know, really attached to the thing. And but they decided to give me one and no, forget the Christmas that they bought it. I don’t remember the year but we will still believe in the Santa Claus back then. But



so you were pretty young. Yeah. So my dad has to get out way back up in the closet. And everyday he come home from work and he’d take his shoes off. He says Son throw my shoes in the closet. So I took his shoes and threw in the closet. And they hit something back then he said bone. And I said, What was that he said come out of that club come out there close.



So that was when I discovered I had to get time. And right after that I started taking lessons. I was real, real quick, real good with my ear. So the learning the lessons and the notes and all that kind of stuff was kind of slow for me. I mean, there’s you know, that’s a slow process. Anyway, until you get up in there. Wow. So I just took out and started playing by ear. And as soon as I start, I would go out. And whenever they wish to have what we call block parties in the neighborhood, they don’t do that kind of stuff now, where they would turn the water hose on, and the kids would get out and then you know, get wet and run through the water. And afterwards, we had them. Yeah, and afterwards, everybody kind of just settled down. And I bring my guitar out and stop playing. So I from that I got invited to go to low neighborhood parties and play a song or two. I mean, I was making a no mega money. But I never forget this now put a pause there some years early. I was a little guy. I couldn’t have been no more than four or five years old. My dad used to take me to the stage show. And you know that with the lights and the big band and the sound and everything and it was the costumes. Whenever the band was stopped playing. I would jump out in the aisle and dance I was a little boy. I mean just you know little kids playing around and people started throwing coins money at my feet. Wow. And so my dad would say dad son Come on keep dancing, going Dance Dance Dance.



So I saw that this will work you know I can if I if I’m serious about this. I can stop making payments. They’re just caught and that was the way it started.



so you really always wanted to be a professional entertainer. Yeah. Well, I didn’t know anything about being professional. I just wanted to sing. And I just wanted to play and dance. Yeah, and dance and play my guitar. You know, that was. So I was a big Chuck Berry fan and Bo Diddley, all those guys who played guitar, so for years, and then I found out that the upfront guys didn’t play instruments, and they got all the girls and the money. So I changed my position a little bit. I said, Well, I used to get taught just to, you know, practice and write my songs. And that’s when I got interested in vocal groups. Of course, thanks to their impeccable harmonies, a parade of hits and fine tune choreography. The Temptations were the definitive vocal group of the 60s and the band that the young Glenn Leonard was paying a great deal of attention to. The classic lineup, as they were called featured Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams, and together they created some of the most memorable songs of all time. In the first few years of their career. Smokey Robinson was the primary songwriter he was responsible for that first number one pop multi million bestseller



Temptations released nine albums between 1964 and 68. And Motown promoted them heavily. It was 1975 when you came to the attention of the temptations, how did they find you in a wrestling story as well. I’m from Washington, DC. And when Eddie left, one of the first people they picked up was Ricky Owens. Back in the day, Ricky had a beautiful voice. Beautiful, good looking guy. Tall seemed like he would be a perfect fit for the temps. But evidently, you know, divorces that the instruments that we have a flesh, they’re not brands and that would flesh and they were out over the years. And Rick is voice that evidently gotten bad. So I’m in Canada at the time, and everybody’s running around DC saying where’s Glenn, where’s he need to be here? You need to be here. So I missed that opportunity. They got to the guy from Baltimore named Damon Harris. David was there for about four years had a few hits with him. And so I’m back up in Canada again. And we were signed to a group called True reflections. We were signed to Atlantic Records, and we were waiting for our release and we get a call from Atlantic he called it tell us that they were pushing our release date back at the time the Isley Brothers were on Atlantic and they said we got to listen as we broke the tune. So they pushed out our saw our release back to guys got frustrated. The group split up. The other two guys with me left came back to DC I stayed in Canada put together another self contained type unit, not a vocal Union, but a band. So one of the guys stayed in touch with me, we were produced by a guy named Tony Sylvester, we used to sing with a group called a main ingredient



one of the guys got a call from Tony says, Man, you’re not gonna believe this. He said I was just with oh, this week. And we were sharing some of the things that we were doing. And he played a couple of his songs that they were working on. And I play some of the things that we were doing in a hurry Glenn, and then want to know who is it and where he’s at? I wouldn’t tell him. So Joe blood is the guy that they were talking to. So Joe told him I said, I can tell you that if he finds out that Otis was interested and you don’t say nothing, you’re gonna have to leave town.



So Tony Foley put me in touch with Otis. And we talked though just told me he they heard some of my stuff and they liked what they heard want to see if I would work out with the group. So he said, We will send you a ticket, round trip ticket, you know, if it works out, you stay but don’t Hey, well, you know how that goes. So I said, Why don’t you do this? Just make it one way. So older said, Oh, so you figured out stay and I said well, I’m gonna stay in California if I don’t make it with the group I’m in the place that I want to be, you know, where the business is and where the talent is and so forth. So that was 1975 and the rest is history.



Glen Glenn Leonard enjoyed his time at Motown, despite the fact that he joined after its golden decade from 61 to 71. And the label had grown immensely to become one of the world’s most recognizable brands. By the time I got there, it was a big corporation, the little family atmosphere that everybody thinks that it was all those years, it had gone. It was a big, big corporation.



So but you know, the, the the heart of Motown has always been family. I remember when the first time we went up there, first time I went up there, when I joined the group, we walked in the door, and somebody said, Oh, who is this? Who are these guys? And somebody said that’s the temptations and somebody else Hall Oh, okay. Well, they tells me temporary.



So, yeah, so you know, Motown was hot. I mean, that during that period, when I say hard, it was strictly business, the artist development thing that they used to do we didn’t get. I wasn’t a part of that. We had choreographers. Yeah, we had a vocal arranges. But that school, where they develop talent, that teach you how to dress and how to walk and how to stand before an audience be articulate. I wasn’t a part of that. I had to learn that after I heard motel was doing it. I said, Well, that’s what we’re gonna have to do. So I started going to vocal classes and things like that on my own very early. This must have been like a dream come true for you. I believe you’d grown up loving the temptations, then having the opportunity to join them. Well, you know, I believe in destiny, I believe that there are some things that are pre ordained. I believe that the opportunities are there ordained to be there. If you do what you’re supposed to do put the work in, be disciplined. That’s exactly what the classic lineup had always done. They’ve worked themselves to the bone, and according to original member Otis Williams, despite their immense success, it wasn’t always easy. The band started to fragment under the pressure and their nickname the temps began to take on a new meaning as members cycled in and out of the band. Smile




Thanks for hanging in Glenn Leonard’s story is certainly one worth sticking around for interesting story. The first of all, a group I fell in love with was laughing and it appears to me they were far better dancers in the camps. They were far better singers. I thought, you know, at the time anyway.



And then but when I saw the Temptations I was in. I was just in my last year high school. And when I saw them, and they have five lead singers, they all the guys looked good. There was a same height slim. They dressed good. That’s when I said, that’s what I’m gonna do right there.



I said this was my mouth didn’t understand exactly what I was saying. But I said I’m gonna sing with that group one day. So I started walking around, I started telling people that and I never forget. We had a guy named Fred Perry. I met Fred when he was a music major, and how a university he was in his last year. We had a group by then called the Chancellor’s this back in early days of Freddie helped develop us taught us how to vocalize taught us how to do harmony, how to blend all of that tough stuff. We did a whole lot of stuff. acapella back then. And I remember telling Freddie one time I said, Man, you know, one day I’m gonna sing with the temptation. And Freddie said, yeah, right. Okay. glare. Okay, all right. You know who just got out with this? didn’t believe you? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So I kept saying I was so what so fair, Freddie.



I told one of the guys he said, Man, y’all, you guys gonna have to kind of keep your eye on Glenn because he seems to be convinced that he’s gonna sing with the temps one day. And I mean, we all know that’s probably not gonna happen. And so they just kind of looked at him. 11 said, Well, you know, Glenn is radical, you know, he, he grabs hold of something, he believes it, and he runs out. But yeah, so. So the funny thing is, when I got with the group, everybody was stunned, everybody. I mean, nobody, they didn’t really believe it. They didn’t believe until they gave me a big parade here. My sister was a fashion model at a place called the hit company. And so the heck company,



sponsor this parade, to welcome home, the hometown boy who did good. And don’t forget, I saw some of the same people standing out watching the parade, that I had said these things, too. And I’ll never forget, one guy said, I can’t believe that fool really did it. He’s saying how awesome. I just got a big grin on my face. Like that must have felt wonderful for you. Yeah.



You know, it’s interesting, because I didn’t understand that I was actually operating and a lot of spiritual law. I believe that, you know, whatever images you put in front of you, and you continue to take in and behold, that transforms you, whatever you listen to a lot, you begin to take in, that begins to mold and shape the way you express yourself. That is There’s a scripture you probably know I’m a minister as well, right? Yes, I do. Of course. There’s a scripture that says as we behold the image of Christ, were changed into that image. I don’t believe that that’s just a Bible principle. That’s a life principle. That’s a human principle. So I learned years early to watch what I say and watch what I do and only do the things that I want to be and want to see. So I practiced that pretty much all my life.



Glenn you were with the temptations from 1975 right through to 1983 and you sang on 10 albums with them, and on many of their well known songs, including ever ready love? What can you tell me about that song? Ever Ready love the album that song came off of? I think if I’m not mistaken, I think that album was produced by heart. The Holland brothers. Holland Holland Dozier wasn’t with him at the time. Sometimes it’s hard to know what songs are the people are gonna like? Sometimes the very ones you love and think are going to be fantastic. Don’t even get out the blocks, then the other ones you think well, you know, that’s just an average tune. It seems to take off ever ready love wasn’t really one of my favorite songs. But I liked the message. It was a good tenor expression. I didn’t particularly like the key of the song. I thought that it started me out at my peak as opposed to starting me lower in my range and let me build it up. But it was a song that gave me a good intro a good introduction. Okay, so which would you say was your favorite song then? I think the album that we did temptation to do the temptation. I really liked that because we wrote and produced that



album. And that album was a part of a big transition, as far as I’m concerned with the temptations because we reached a point to where our relationship had worn thin and Motown it the family atmosphere was gone. And it was still good business and things like that. It just wasn’t a little stuff kind of family feeling anymore. And other people that had been there were given the opportunity to write produce Stevie Wonder smoky, different ones who have been there all the time. They got a chance to grow. Well, you know, we found we went to Moto and and the truth be told some of the hits that did a classic fivehead were written by Eddie Kendricks and Cornelius grant, but nobody talks about it. Nobody even mentions it rarely, but Eddie was quite the rider. Let’s see. Yes, yes, it was as the lead singer for the temptations. Eddie Kendricks, it also had been responsible for creating most of the group’s focal arrangements. He served as wardrobe manager to including for the now famous purple suits, the group wore it he left the band in 1971, to establish a solo career from that album, The Temptations do the temptations in 1976, which was your favorite track? I’m on five was my signature song for a long time. That was the one that I started getting recognition for. During that period. We were asking them to allow us to write and produce. And then Motown said no. So we said, well, we want to be we want to go somewhere where we could write to do so we’re not going to resign our new contract, we’re gonna leave. So we left. And we found out through leaving that everybody didn’t know how to do Motown. Like that’s unrest because I run to a whole lot of musicians today who will tell me, Oh, I played Motown all my life. And they don’t understand the concept. They don’t understand how the music is structured. So just because you can play a song that was produced by Motown don’t mean you understand. So because they would not allow us the right to do so we decided to leave, we left with two lead records that didn’t last long. So we come back to Motown and that’s when they gave us the production deal. So that album is probably one of my favourites.



I used to be friendly with the likes of Otis and still am today. We talk probably more now than we ever did, which is interesting. I’ve always maintained my relationship with them. There was a bit of confusion and controversy about the way I left. When we did the reunion tour. Everybody was glad to see Eddie and David back. You know, Eddie Kendricks was my mentor my hero, even though he wasn’t there working with me hands on. I learned most of what I know about singing tenor from him from studying him, then having the chance to work with him. In the the, you know, in the reunion set was just extra great that that was the culminating factor for me. The Temptations for union tour took place in 1982. It brought original members David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks back together with the temptations after a decade long absence. The tour though didn’t turn out to be very successful, as David Ruffin kept missing shows due to a heavy cocaine habit. And Eddie Kendricks falsetto voice had weakened due to constant smoking. The album that resulted from it though sold incredibly well. It had its controversy. Eddie came back and made it real clear. He said, Listen, I’m not coming back to be part of the temptations. I’m coming back to do a reunion where David and I will join you guys and we’ll all get a booth and then we can go back to our careers. Well, the fans were loving it they back back back even though his boss was gone. And I suggest I said man, let me help in whatever way I can. Sometimes his voice would be there sometimes it would drop out. So finally what I told him I said Listen, man, I can I’ll stand in the wings with a mic and help with the background parts. So I had the opportunity to give back to a guy that gave so much to me now, in the midst of all of that, they were considering trying to get out of the state. I felt a little some kind of way about that. Because you know, we’re both in the same position, and I was not going to compete with my mentor. I just wasn’t going to do it. So we were at the tail end of the reunion tour, and I left. I told him, I said, this is the last date on the tour. I’m done. He said, What do you mean? I said, I’m leaving. And he’s like, why? I said, Well, I’ve heard the rumors, you got to really want it back. And I would never want to be in the way that I first of all, I don’t think God when he’s beloved, and I love him as well. And so I went to him. And I told him, I said, I’m going, man, he says, Why are you gonna do that? I say, you know, they want you back. He said, Well, what did I say when I came? I said, I know what you said, but I don’t want to be caught up in it. He said, Well, Glenn, that’s your decision. He said, I support you, whatever you do, if you ever need me, you know, all you got to do is call. So I left my relationship with him on those terms. Hold them decided, oh, this did I guess him and Melvin decided to do a story saying they let me go. And that in fact, was not what happened. But I was mortified. I mean, you know, what can you do?



My story will come up in the book. He currently writing a book. Yes, I’m writing the book right now. Yeah. And I’m not telling all of this to create controversy or adversity with Odin, because we’re great friends now. And we talk all the time. I on my 70th birthday, was with a group here in DC, two guys I grew up with, we were doing the show, and the guys want to do something to celebrate my birthday. So they got in touch with Otis and asked, Oh, this, would he do a video, wishing me happy birthday. And Otis did just come off stage. I don’t know whatever performance. He had the whole group stand there and they all get wish me happy birthday. And Ron Tyson, the guy that took my place. He was a part of the Philadelphia group of producers, when we first met him. So he was gonna be the one that worked on some songs for me. So one day we when I first met him, we were sitting there we were, he was showing me how the songs go. And I said, Wow, you got great boys. I say you could probably sing in this group. And he was the one they called to replace me. It he never did come back. No, no, he left it. You know, it was a guy who had very, very solid and sound character. He wasn’t a pushover in his image. As a performer. He didn’t say much. He was kind of quiet, but it was as strong and as solid as they come. A David was boisterous and loud, you know, and controversial and all that. It hadn’t done that it was the only one in the left attempts that had a valid solo career David didn’t do well Dennis didn’t do well as you can just had 10 years of a solo career get pretty good as a solo artist. So he was more solid than a lot of people really knew or gave him credit for sometimes when you have a softer spot in the production, you know, you sing a line of voice. People feel you’re not really solid or strong. But Eddie was a good businessman. He was a great performer. He was a class act all the way around.



Eddie Kendricks with probably the best falsetto voice of any man, it he died in 1992 from lung cancer at the age of 52. We’ll be back in a sec.



Welcome back. I’m chatting with Glenn Leonard who sang lead with the temptations for several years from the mid 70s. The group is said to have pioneered psychedelic soul and played a huge part in the evolution of r&b known for their choreography, distinct harmonies and dress style. Over the past six decades, the temptations have sold 10s of millions of albums and accounted among the most successful groups in popular music



Glenn had left the band in 1983. And since then his life has changed dramatically. Once he was a temptation. Today as a minister, he spends his time helping people to resist their own temptations. I grew up in church, one of the first things you learn yield not to temptation. And it’s funny that I would join a group called the temptations. Having heard that yield not to temptations, and days, I’ve heard this said I don’t necessarily put much stock in it. But you know, the temptations have had a lot of drama. I mean, oh, this is the only living original member. They’ve been like maybe 23 temptations. So your group has had a lot of personnel and have managed to stay around all these years. And I’ve heard people say that name was not the best name they could have chose because it goes against biblical principles. Do not to temptation. And I told them I said look, you know you take this load too seriously?



These days you run around doing a temptations review, don’t you? Well, Damon Harris actually took Damien’s place in the group. But my temptation review group was Damon, Damon had invited me out to come and do some shows with him. And he was calling his group former lead singers plural of the temptation. You know, when he was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to perform at a certain point. I just took the group over and ran with it. And I’ve had goop now 20 Some years but that’s not the only thing I do. I also write produce. I’m working right now on building a concept



And they project for the sons of the temptations. Paul Williams son, Melvin Franklin son, my son, and David Ruffin. So they all have a group, but they start out calling themselves sons of the temptations. Naturally oldest one gonna stand still for that. So they started calling themselves sons of Motown. And they got some flack from that. So they were cautioned, but somebody universal also expressed some interest. So they haven’t legally stopped them. But they told them they’re not probably not gonna be to use that name. So they had some issues with trying to really keep bringing all the guys together. I’m involved. I’m engaged with them right now. I want to help the sons all of these guys, you know, have sons only son that I know that don’t sing Is it his son Paris. unfortunate because if he could sing like his dad, who by goodness, Glenn’s words turned out to be true, the sons of Motown weren’t allowed to continue using the name today, they often perform as the sons of motor city, and they sound great. I guess you’d expect that though, wouldn’t you the kind of pedigree that each member has. Let’s not forget lead singer David Ruffin Jr. is the son of David Ruffin. And the nephew of the late great Jimmy Ruffin.



When I’m too proud is the new musical that’s currently playing London’s West End, isn’t it? It’s the story of the temptations and includes so many of your 42 Top 10 hits and 14 number ones. What do you think about it? Well, I think oh, this is a very smart and astute businessman. I don’t particularly like to production. I don’t think that it gives a true expression of the temptation, you know, the kind of thing that they got to be the temptation. You know, and I don’t knock it because I understand this business is so good. And it’s always this project. So I’m never going to tear it down the temptation to a cool dancers and steppers. They were not like Broadway dancers. They didn’t they didn’t do a whole bunch of crazy looking, while extravagant kicks and flips and running and sliding across the stage of temptation. I didn’t do stuff like that. So when I’m watching, oh, this is a project. I’m like, Oh, come on, man, that we never did nothing like this. But again, it’s you know, it’s so good. And so now I understand. He’s the last living original member. It’s got to be authentic. Yeah, he’s got he’s got he’s gonna milk it. He’s gonna milk it. Yeah. There’s several musicals about Motown. And one of my agents, Mr. Berry singer. I did some other things with him years ago. And so when they came up with this with that news, the musical I’m doing has been around for about 20 years. And when they decided to bring it back, they contacted me and wanted to know if I would be interested in headlining me and wanted me and one other expectation so they decided on me and actually feel people. So we’ve been doing that for a couple of years now.



Peoples was the youngest member of the temptations, and for nearly 20 years, his voice has been critical to the legacy of two of Motown’s greatest vocal groups, the Temptations and the Four Tops. We’ll get to greatness by Yes, sold out. Crowd, we were just in Spain and Switzerland and sold out. Totally, you’re certainly very active. You’re not getting any younger, but you seem to be getting even more creative. You’re certainly very active, you’re not getting any younger, but you seem to be getting even more creative.



Well, you know, and I believe that when you when you true to your art, your art to be true to you. And so I just stick to what I do. And it’s always inspired me, I’m not gonna change that. I’m gonna keep doing what I do. Glenn, you also mentioned to me that you were writing a book? Yes, sir. Yes, I’m still writing it. I’m still working on it. And I don’t have a deadline for it.



Because the story is still being lived. I don’t anticipate actually finishing the book right away. I’m documenting some of the highlights of being with the temps on document some of the highlights of me growing up my fascination with Motown and attempts and all of that. So I’m taking my time trying to recall some of the most important periods.



This event for me, so I’m still writing, I’m sure, Randy, are you still a firm believer in visualizing what you want to be and making it happen? That’s a principle that is available to any human being. If there’s something that inspires you something that you believe in, or something that that you know, you all you think about enough. And you know, you’re often drawn to whatever is similar to that. If there’s something that you want to do, I believe that it’s possible to obtain the impossible, if you believe that and are willing to put in the work. So yeah, all things are possible, if you believe, but then you got to get then you got to get behind it, and put some action to it. So that’s where I think most people drop the ball or, you know, they’re not able to really push it all the way through. It takes time, and it takes effort. And if you’ve got to put in the work, that’s certainly the story of Glen Leonard, isn’t it? Yes, it is.



is certainly, Glen, thank you so much for chatting with us today. It’s wonderful to have had the opportunity to talk with you. I’m very, very grateful to you. Thank you, Sandy. And I appreciate you guys still supporting and wanting to do these articles. He keeps what we’re doing alive. And you know, it answers a lot of questions for a lot of our fans who would never get a chance to meet us maybe. So I do appreciate any kind of exposure we get. Thank you. As you’ve heard, it’s 76 years young Clen Leonard still lives for his work. Apart from the Motown musical that He currently stars in. He continues to muster the energy required to lead an all star cast in his own tribute review to the original members of the temps. The show as you can imagine, is full of classic temptation moves and songs. And Glenn is particularly proud to again perform the 1980 tempt song Silent Night. It’s one he did as part of the temptations reunion tour and album that also featured Dennis Edwards, Richard Street and original members Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin


thanks so much for joining me here today. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing Glenn Leonard story. I’ll leave you now with the promise to be back same time next week with another terrific guest. I hope you have fun Meantime, and I’ll look forward to your company next week.