Liner Notes – Ali Ollie Woodson

Former Lead Singer of The TemptationsAli Ollie Woodson, former lead singer for the Temptations, died Sunday, May 30, 2010 at age 58.

Ali Ollie Woodson will forever be remembered as the third unforgettable lead tenor voice for the most famous and accomplished male singing group ever, Motown’s Temptations.  The Temps stood tall on the Gordy label and Ollie Woodson was a perfect replacement for Dennis Edwards, who was a perfect replacement for David Ruffin.  There’s David’s signature song, “My Girl,” Dennis’ “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” and Ali Ollie Woodson’s “Treat Her Like A Lady.”  You didn’t get to replace a Temptation unless you were phenomenal in your own right.  Ollie accomplished much in his short 58 years; most of them he spent singing.

Born in Detroit, Ollie started singing at four years of age in his church choir.  At age seven he won a local talent show.  Obviously, singing was what he was predestined to do.  A young Ollie went on to sing with the Drifters in the early 70’s and Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, after Teddy Pendergrass’ departure, for a short while.  His distinct and uniquely pleasing voice and sky-reaching vocal range had him performing with music business legends like Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, the O’Jays, James Brown, Lou Rawls, Whitney Houston, the Four Tops, Natalie Cole, Al Green and many more.  He had a recurring role on the UPN TV sitcom, Good News, starring Detroiters David Ramsey and Roz Ryan.  Good News featured Billy Preston as the Choir Director/Organist with DJ Rogers and Ali Ollie Woodson as singers in the choir.  I would’ve paid good money to see that choir perform live.  He appeared on other TV shows like Parenthood, Jamie Foxx Show, Murphy Brown, 227, The Love Boat, Moonlighting and the Little Richard TV movie starring Leon.  In 2001, he released a solo music CD entitled, “Right Here All Along.”

Woodson did two stints with the Temptations starting in 1984 and finally walking away in 1996 because of his battle with leukemia.  Billy Wilson of the Motown Alumni Association is quoted as saying,

“He was an excellent singer.  He had a style and swagger about himself that was different than the other Temptations.  He was just a star performer.  Wonderful person.  Wonderful, wonderful person.”

I’m really saddened as a Detroiter who grew up singing in one of the many, many five man groups who practically sang Temps song exclusively on the corners of Northwest Detroit, basement quarter parties and weekend singing competitions at the CB Club on the 2nd floor of the building located at Dexter and Waverly (I, for one, didn’t even know what a CB was at the time given that Citizen Band Radios hadn’t come into their popularity to non-truckers yet).  Once again, another Temptation passes.  I’ve yet to get over the passing of David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin and Paul Williams; especially since I ran into Paul on the street a few short weeks before his unfortunate death.  He couldn’t have been more accommodating to a wide-eyed teenager who idolized him and his mates.  So yes, it still affects me when I hear of one of the Temptin’ Temptations’ wonderful voice being silenced forever.  These dudes still had wannabe Temps groups like mine onboard, adding every album track to our repertoire, even when Motown had the crazy idea to have them sing an LP of American Standards.  Yep, us Junior High School kids were on the street corners singing stuff that Sammy Davis, Jr. would sing like “Ol’ Man River,” “With These Hands,” “Hello Young Lovers” and “The Impossible Dream.”  If someone had asked us to listen to Frank Sinatra or Bobby Darrin sing those songs, we’d have laughed them out of the city but the Temps could and did get us to believe that any song could be hip… if they sang it.  So even though Ali Ollie Woodson joined the Temptations in ’84, after I was grown and had moved on from my five-man singing group days, he was still a very important part of their talented fraternity… which makes him “The Man” to me.  The true test is Ollie could have sang with those original Temps on the “Meet The Temptations” album and fit right in… perfectly!  Rest In Peace Ali Ollie Woodson.  You will be missed.

Reuben Yabuku
Artistic Director
Buku Productions