Richard Street, a 22-year veteran of the Temptations, died in Las Vegas earlier today after a short hospital stay. He was 70.
It was the second death of a member of the group in the last two weeks. Street’s bandmate from 1971 to 1975, Damon Harris, passed away on February 18 at the age of 62.
Street was born in Detroit, MI, the first member of the group that was actually from the home of Motown. He started his professional career in 1955 when he and friend Marvin Franklin were asked to become part of the group Otis Williams and the Distants. They scored a local Detroit hit, Come On, before Williams, Franklin and Al Bryant left to form The Elgins, an early version of what would become The Temptations.
After a short stint in a new version of the Distants, Street joined the Monitors who were signed to Motown. The group only had two minor R&B hits (Say You (1966/#36 R&B), Greetings (This is Uncle Sam) (1966/#21 R&B/#100 Pop). They continued to record for the Motown labels through the end of the decade although they also worked in other capacities for company including Street who was in quality control.
Starting in the late-60’s, Street also traveled with the Temptations and would sing Paul Williams’ parts from off-stage due to Paul’s suffering from alcoholism and sickle-cell anemia. When Williams was forced to leave the group in 1971, Street took his place. It was also during this time that Harris took the place of Eddie Kendricks in the group.
The Temps were in the middle of their social-conscious phase and Street recorded some of their biggest later hits including Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are), Papa Was a Rolling Stone and Masterpiece. The latter was the group’s last top ten pop hit, but they continued to have hits on the R&B charts 1987’s Look What You Started. The group also returned to the charts in 1992 as backup to Rod Stewart on The Motown Song (#10 Pop/#3 Adult Contemporary).
The next year, Street decided to leave the group, having survived numerous personnel changes, saying that they had lost the “family feel” of previous years. He went on to work solo and as a duet with Harris.
At the time of his death, Street was nearly finished with his autobiography. He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Street, along with two sons and two daughters.