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David Ruffin

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Davis Eli “David” Ruffin (January 18, 1941 – June 1, 1991) was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of The Temptations from 1964 to 1968 (or the group’s “Classic Five” period as it was later known). He was the lead voice on such famous songs as “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”
Known for his unique raspy and anguished tenor vocals, Ruffin was ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2008. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 for his work with the Temptations. Fellow Motown recording artist Marvin Gaye once said admiringly of Ruffin that, “I heard a strength my own voice lacked.”

Ruffin was born Davis Eli Ruffin in the rural unincorporated community of Whynot, Mississippi, fifteen miles from Meridian, Mississippi. He was the third born son of Elias “Eli” Ruffin, a Baptist minister, and Ophelia Ruffin (née Davis). His siblings were Quincy B. Ruffin, Rita Ruffin, and Jimmy L. Ruffin. His parents were both natives of Mississippi. His father Eli worked as a truck driver at a lumber mill and his mother Ophelia worked out of their home. As far as the ancestry of the Ruffin family, Eli’s parents had moved from Alabama to Mississippi, due to the harsh circumstances of living after the American Civil War. Prior to living in Alabama, David Ruffin’s great grandparents, John Ruffin and Clara Ruffin, had moved from Bertie County, North Carolina. John Ruffin was a Civil War Veteran, fighting with the 14th United States Colored Heavy Artillery Regiment.

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