A Look at Melvin Franklin’s Life

A Look at Melvin Franklin's Life

Who was Melvin Franklin?

The late American bass singer David Melvin English, remembered best by his professional name Melvin Franklin and nickname ‘Blue’, was born in Montgomery, Alabama USA, on 12 October 1942, meaning that Libra was his zodiac sign. He was a founding member of the American vocal group The Temptations, performing with them from 1960 until his untimely death.

Melvin was taken to his home in January 1995, after he had begun bleeding from his ankle; he fell into a coma on 17 February, and died from heart failure on 23 February 1995, aged 52. He was buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

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Education and early life

For the first 10 years of his life, Melvin was raised by his maternal great-grandmother; his mother Rose English was a teenager when she gave birth to him, having been impregnated through rape by a preacher. Rose married Willard Franklin after Melvin was born, and Melvin lived with Rose and his stepfather in Detroit, Michigan from the age of 10.

He took on his stepfather’s surname ‘Franklin’ as his stage name during his teenage years, and went on to perform with various bands around Detroit, with one of the most popular amongst these having been The Voice Masters; they signed with Anna Records in 1959 and released several singles, such as “Hope and Pray” and “Needed”.

Melvin matriculated from Northwestern High School in 1960, and then enrolled at Wayne State University, however, he dropped out after half a year wanting to pursue music.

Melvin’s career

Melvin met American singer Otis Williams while they were both attending Northwestern High School; Otis founded his own group Otis Williams and the Siberians in 1958, and in the following year invited Melvin to join them as their bass singer.

The band was eventually renamed to Otis Williams and the Distants, and their first two singles “Come On” and “Alright” were released in 1959 and 1960, respectively.

After the band nearly broke apart in 1960, the remaining three members, including Melvin joined the late American tenor singer Edward James ‘Eddie’ Kendrick and the late American baritone singer Paul Williams to form the Elgins; they were signed to Motown Records in March 1961, having previously changed their name to The Temptations.

Their first two singles “Check Yourself” and “Oh Mother of Mine” both became quite popular, while their first single to chart “You’re My Dream Come True” reached #22 on the R&B Chart. Their first Top 20 hit “The Way You Do the Things You Do” was released in 1964, and was followed by their debut album “Meet the Temptations” in the first half of the same year.

Their single “My Girl” was released on 21 December 1964 and topped the charts, while it remains their most popular song to this day; the year 1965 saw the release of their hit singles “My Baby”, “Since I Lost My Baby” and “It’s Growing”. The band’s second album “The Temptations Sing Smokey” was released in 1965, and was followed by “The Temptin’ Temptations” in the same year, “Gettin’ Ready” in 1966, and “The Temptations with a Lot o’ Soul” in 1967. Following their rise to fame from 1964 through 1968, the band was invited to make a guest appearance in various popular shows, including “The Hollywood Palace”, “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “American Bandstand”.

Their live album “Live at the Copa” was released in 1968, and they then collaborated with Diana Ross & the Supremes on the 1968 album “Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations”; some of the Temptations’ following albums were the 1969 “Puzzle People”, the 1970 “Psychedelic Shack” and the 1973 “Masterpiece”.

The Temptations eventually became dissatisfied with Motown, and signed with Atlantic Records in 1976; their two albums under the new label “Heart to Tempt You” and “Bare Back” were released in 1977 and 1978 but rather unsuccessful, which let the group to re-sign with Motown.

While trying to prevent the carjacking of his vehicle in West Hollywood in 1978, Melvin was shot in the leg and hand; the Temptations had been scheduled to perform in Poland, but Melvin had to miss the tour.

Their new album “Reunion” came out in 1982, and was followed by “Surface Thrills” in 1983 and “Together Again” in 1987.

Melvin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

His health began declining in the first half of the ‘90s, and he was diagnosed with the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis in 1994; he underwent surgery, and doctors were able to save his arm.

Melvin was recording for the Temptations’ album “For Lovers Only” not long before his death; the band’s still active today, but they’ve changed many members.

Love life and marriage

Melvin rarely spoke about his love life in public, and not many details have been disclosed about it. He married twice, but the name of his first wife remains undisclosed, when the two married and divorced, while it’s believed that Melvin and the woman had a child together.

He eventually exchanged vows with his second wife, American non-celebrity Kimberly, and they had five children together. The two were together at the time of Melvin’s passing, and Kimberly was highly supportive as he struggled with diabetes in the ‘80s and later with necrotizing fasciitis.

Melvin didn’t speak about other women whom he’d dated, was married to his second wife Kimberly at the time of his death, and they had five children together; it’s believed that he also had a child with his first wife.

Interesting facts and hobbies

American actor David Bryan Woodside portrayed Melvin in the 1998 biographical musical mini-series “The Temptations”, which won four of its 22 award nominations; Melvin’s death was depicted differently in the series than had occurred in reality, mostly because it was fresh in the minds of Melvin’s friends.

His mother Rose sued various companies and people in April 1999, for unauthorized use of her name.

Melvin was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in February 2013, and was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in the same year.

He was also a bit of an actor, but considered it a hobby rather than a job. Melvin’s debut TV series role was voicing Wheels in 13 episodes of the 1984 short animated action “Pole Position”, while some of his following roles were in the 1987 musical comedy movie “The Return of Bruno”, the 1987 romantic crime comedy film “Happy New Year”, and the 1990 episode “Goin’ to the Chapel: Part 2” of the comedy series “Murphy Brown”.

Height, eyes and wealth

Melvin would’ve been 80 today. He had brown eyes and black hair, was 6ft 1in (1.85m) tall and weighed around 180lbs (81kgs).

At the time of his passing, Melvin’s net worth was estimated at over $3 million.

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