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Melvin Franklin, Original Member of the Temptations, Dead at 52

February 24, 1995 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Melvin Franklin, an original member of the Temptations whose deep voice anchored harmonies on such hits as ``The Way You Do the Things You Do″ and ``My Girl,″ died Thursday. He was 52.

Franklin died of heart failure, a week after he was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center following a series of seizures, hospital spokesman Ron Wise said.

``He sustained significant neurological damage, which was complicated by diabetes and other medical problems,″ Wise said.

Born David English on Oct. 12, 1942, in Montgomery, Ala., Franklin sang with the Elgins, renamed the Primes, who began recording for Detroit’s Motown Records in 1960.

Two years later, the group reformed as the Temptations with Franklin, Otis Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and Eldridge Bryant. David Ruffin replaced Bryant in 1964, and the group signed with Motown.

Franklin’s basso profundo was the heart of the Temptations, with much of the group’s harmonizing overlaying his bass. Last September, the Temptations got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The group’s first hit was ``The Way You Do the Things You Do″ in 1964. Their smooth, toe-tapping rock and soul sound would eventually sell an estimated 22 million records during their career.

They had 43 Top 10 singles with such hits as: ``It’s Growing,″ ``Since I Lost My Baby,″ ``Don’t Look Back,″ ``Get Ready,″ ``All I Need,″ ``You’re My Everything,″ ``Just My Imagination,″ ``Beauty’s Only Skin Deep,″ ``Cloud Nine,″ ``Runaway Child″ and ``Papa Was a Rolling Stone.″

The group exuded confidence, and with good reason. Franklin once boasted that the Temptations needed only ``a light, a microphone and a plain wood floor″ to captivate an crowd.

``We don’t need a whole lot of props to do it at its rawest, rarest form,″ he said.

There were frequent personnel changes within the Temptations, but Franklin and best friend Otis Williams, who began singing together when they were 14, stayed on. They were the only two original members still involved in Temptations’ concerts through the ’90s.

``I almost see us like a football franchise or a baseball franchise. People come and go, but it still goes on,″ Otis Williams once said.

Only Otis Williams remains of the five young men who Motown once billed as ``the tall, tan and tempting Temptations.″

Paul Williams killed himself in 1973, two years after he was asked to leave the group because of alcoholism and related health problems. Ruffin died in 1991 of a crack overdose. Kendricks died in 1992 of lung cancer.