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Member Of The Temptations, Bruce Williamson Jr., Dies At 49

NOEL KING, HOST:

Almost 200,000 people in this country have died of COVID-19 or complications related to the coronavirus. One of them was Bruce Williamson Jr.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

For almost 10 years, he was a member of the Temptations. He joined in 2006 and performed at the White House in 2008.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AIN'T TOO PROUD TO BEG")

TEMPTATIONS: (Singing) I know you wanna leave me, but I refuse to let you go.

OTIS WILLIAMS: Oh, he was funny as hell.

KING: That's Otis Williams, the last of the original Temptations.

WILLIAMS: He would always call me papi. Hey, papi, what you doing? He called me a few weeks before he made his transition. Papi, I'm just calling to see how you do, you know, so he was forever always jovial and a great spirit.

KING: Otis Williams says that Bruce Williamson was an unusual choice for the group because the Temptations, as you know, would do these rigorous dance moves while they sang, and Williamson was a plus-sized gentleman.

WILLIAMS: The brother could eat, you know. He could put away some food, you know, but to be in the Temps, you would have to take care of yourself. So he was able to do all that because he knew what he was stepping into. He could step right along with us.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AIN'T TOO PROUD TO BEG")

TEMPTATIONS: (Singing) Ain't too proud to beg. Please don't leave me girl. Don't you go.

WILLIAMS: There's the part in "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" that when he was singing lead, he would be at one end of the stage and he would run across the other side singing at the same time and the audience just was knocked out to see a big man move like that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AIN'T TOO PROUD TO BEG")

TEMPTATIONS: (Vocalizing).

INSKEEP: Now, the Temptations had a nickname for Bruce Williamson.

WILLIAMS: Oh, we'd call him Big Sexy.

INSKEEP: And when they recorded a classic Barry White song, who else could sing the lead but Big Sexy?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP")

BRUCE WILLIAMSON JR: (Singing) I'm going to keep you pleased in every way I can, going to give you all of me, as much as you can stand.

WILLIAMS: Bruce was a wealth of talent. You know, he could sing lead good. He was very good in the harmonies and not to mention choreography. So he was an all around Temptation. Like I've always said, once a Temptation, you always a Temptation.

KING: That was Otis Williams remembering Bruce Williamson Jr. He died from the coronavirus in Las Vegas on September 6 at the age of 49.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP")

WILLIAMSON: (Singing) And all my days I hoped... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.