David Ruffin: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 9, 2022


510) David Ruffin — “The Double Cross”

“The Double Cross” is a powerful and heart-rending track from Ruffin’s first solo album, ‘69’s My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me).

Of course, Ruffin’s foundational days were with the Temptation. As John Lowe writes:

One of the greatest lead singers the Motown stable ever had, David Ruffin became one of the artistic cornerstones of the Temptations after his lead vocal on “My Girl” (1965) paved the way for such majestic follow-ups as “Since I Lost My Baby” (1965), “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep” (1966), “All I Need” (1967), and “I Wish It Would Rain” (1968). Unfortunately, ever-mounting internal pressures within the group, coupled with Ruffin’s swelling ego, led to his dismissal . . . in late 1968.


Bill DeMain elaborates:

David Ruffin was never a team player. . . . [H]e was a rebel in the close-knit Motown family. He wanted his own limo and more money. He wanted billing as David Ruffin & the Temptations. And he wanted creative freedom. As choreographer–and creator of the “Temptation Walk”–Cholly Atkins once said, “The Tempts[‘] . . . . choreography was all about conforming to a routine. David could do it–he could move with the best of them–but he wasn’t built to conform to anything. He resisted discipline like a cat resists water.”


Lowe notes that Ruffin’s “solo career got off to a promising start with the powerful ballad ‘My Whole World Ended . . .’ which cracked the pop and soul Top Ten in early 1969.” Lindsay Planer adds:

Although drugs would begin to erode his immeasurable talents from the inside out, Ruffin can be heard at the top of his game on My Whole World Ended . . . . [H]e was still considered a key component in the Motown family and, at least for a while, was afforded support by the best and brightest that the label had to offer. Among the perks was working with top-notch hit making producers . . . all of whom add their magic to the mix. Ruffin’s vocals are uniformly inspired . . . . In the end the project didn’t need too much help to take to the top of the R&B album survey for two weeks and into the Top 40 on the pop side.


Sadly, as Bill DeMain writes:

After going Top 10 with the [album’s title song], Ruffin would struggle for years while his former group scaled the charts . . . . The promising first album . . . with standout tracks like . . . “The Double Cross” . . . seemed to ensure stardom. But the follow-up Feelin’ Good . . . felt like a retread, with sub-par material . . . . [U]nlike fellow Motown rebels Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, Ruffin did not write his own songs. Consequently, he was at the mercy of the Hitsville staffers, who loaded his third album with more B-minus material.

Ruffin died in 1991 at the age of 50.

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