Recording and success
The recorded version of “My Girl” was the first Temptations single to feature David Ruffin on lead vocals. Previously, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams had performed most of the group’s lead vocals, and Ruffin had joined the group as a replacement for former Temptation Elbridge “Al” Bryant. While on tour as part of the Motortown Revue, a collective tour for most of the Motown roster, Smokey Robinson caught the Temptations’ part of the show. The group had included a medley of soul standards in the show, one of which, The Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk”, was a solo spot for Ruffin. Impressed, Robinson decided to produce a single with Ruffin singing lead. Robinson saw Ruffin as a “sleeping giant” in the group with a unique voice that was “mellow” yet “gruff”. Robinson thought that if he could write just the perfect song for Ruffin’s voice, then he could have a smash hit… The song was to be something that Ruffin could “belt out” yet something that was also “melodic and sweet”. After some persuasion from Ruffin’s bandmates, Robinson had the Temptations record “My Girl” instead of The Miracles, and recruited Ruffin to sing the lead vocals.
“My Girl” climbed to the top of the U.S. pop charts after its Christmas time 1964 release, making it the Temptations’ first number-one hit. The single was also the first number-one hit on the reinstated Billboard R&B Singles chart, which had gone on an eighteen-month hiatus from 1963 to 1965. The success of this single launched a series of Ruffin-led hits, including “It’s Growing” (1965), “Since I Lost My Baby” (1965), “My Baby” (1965), “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” (1966), “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep” (1966), “(I Know) I’m Losing You” (1966), “All I Need” (1967), “(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It’s You That I Need” (1967), “I Wish It Would Rain” (1967), and “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)” (1968). The former background figure quickly became the group’s main (and, excepting irregular leads by Kendricks and Williams, only) lead singer by the end of 1965. After many Ruffin-led hits, he started to develop a large ego. He was later fired from the group (see the Temptations main article for more details).
In 2004, “My Girl” was ranked number 88 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
Covers and other uses
The following year, Otis Redding brought more of a traditional blues flavor to the song in his cover of “My Girl”. This version, produced by Steve Cropper, was featured on Redding’s critically acclaimed album Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul. The album featured a number of classic soul and R&B covers, as well as several original songs (including the future Aretha Franklin hit “Respect”). “My Girl” wasn’t released as a single in the United States, but Atlantic UK released it in England to capitalize on the relative lack of success by the Temptations’ original version, and Redding’s cover eventually peaked at #11. A cover also appears on Al Green’s release “Green is Blues”.
A cover version was included on The Rolling Stones Flowers in 1967. It was recorded two years earlier. The Mamas & the Papas featured this song on the third album Deliver (1967), and released it as a single that reached 15 on the U.S. pop charts. It has also been a hit for Jamaican ska rocksteady legend, Prince Buster. In 1977, Dolly Parton included a country version of the song on her album New Harvest - First Gathering. In 1988, Suave had a Top 40 Pop hit & Top 10 R&B hit with the song.
Now considered a classic Motown tune, “My Girl” has been frequently covered since the 1960s, including versions by other Motown stars such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, and the Irish band Westlife. It has also been featured in a number of films, including the 1991 My Girl, which was also named after the tune. To promote the film My Girl, a music video of the Temptations song was produced. The clip, directed by Dominic Orlando in Los Angeles, combined footage from an archived 1965 television performance, clips from the film, and new footage of the 1991 Temptations lineup - original members Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin alongside newer members Richard Street, Ron Tyson, and (wearing glasses to look like David Ruffin) Ali-Ollie Woodson - performing a cover of the tune alongside My Girl’s co-stars Anna Chlumsky and Macaulay Culkin. The first half of the music video used the original soundtrack. The single was also re-released the following year. It did not reach the Billboard charts, but did reach #2 in the UK Singles Chart. In 2007, Eve of Summer recorded a version, My Girl 07 (Va va Voom remix).
In the 1991 movie, Father of the Bride, George Banks (Steve Martin) and his daughter Annie (Kimberly Williams) played a game of one-on-one basketball as George was trying to come to grips with the fact that his daughter was to be married; “My Girl” played throughout their game.
Filipino-American star, Sam Milby recorded a version of the song which became the main theme song of the hit Filipino comedy-drama series, My Girl.
The song is played significantly in the Korean hit movie My Sassy Girl. In Hollywood Homicide, the song was used as Harrison Ford’s ringtone, a running gag, as well as in the closing credits.
On the series Full House, Danny Tanner is heard singing this song in the episode “Ol’ Brown Eyes”.
On the series Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Uncle Phil sings the song to Will to explain love to him.
On the series Family Matters, Steve Urkel serenades to Laura with this song with Eddie and Waldo as the backup singers.
On the series Boy Meets World, on the Season 3 episode “Rave On”, the song is performed by The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork guest starring as Gordy, Reginald and Jedidiah.
Australian pop boy band Human Nature recorded this song in 2005 for their first of three Motown albums called Reach Out: The Motown Record.
Japanese singer, Miliyah Kato, released the song featuring Japanese boy-band, COLOR, as a single on May 30, 2007.
The jazz singer Patricia Barber recorded a version of it on her album Distortion of Love (1992).
The Scottish band The Jesus and Mary Chain included a cover of this song on their compilation album The Sound of Speed.
Eurythmics recorded an electronic version (named “My Guy”) for the aborted “TV Planet” project. It was released as a bonus track on the 2005 reissue of Revenge.
Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones performed a cover version of My Girl on Jools Holland’s Hootenanny new year celebration show for 2008/2009
A different version of the song is on the video game Karaoke Revolution Volume 2.
My Girl is briefly played in the movie Munich after the first target is assassinated.
The original The Temptations recording was used in the film Born on the Fourth of July (1989).
“This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys Billboard Hot 100 number one single
March 6, 1965
(one week) Succeeded by
“Eight Days a Week” by The Beatles
Edited by PhamilyJules on 25 Oct 2009, 04:14
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