Legendary Temptations’ lead singer David Ruffin lived at 17385 Parkside Street in Detroit from 1970-1983 during the height of his solo career. The stretch of road between Six and Seven Mile on the city’s west side will be renamed in honor of the singer famous for his unique raspy and anguished baritone vocals.
Detroit City Council approved the secondary naming of Parkside to “David Ruffin Avenue.” The unveiling will take place June 21 at 2 p.m. during a ceremony hosted by the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, the Detroit-based organization that hosts an annual induction event.
“I, along with the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, presented the idea to the city of Detroit,” said National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame founder LaMont Robinson. “I have been a major fan of The Temptations and Mr. Ruffin since childhood. We wanted to honor this legend with a street named after him, in a city that he loved so much. It brings me great pleasure and joy to see how happy and proud his family members are of this recognition. This is a major honor that will live on and on.”
Born Davis Eli Ruffin in the rural unincorporated community of Whynot, Mississippi, 15 miles from Meridian, Ruffin was the third born son of Elias “Eli” Ruffin, a Baptist minister, and Ophelia Ruffin.
Ruffin’s storied musical career began singing in a traveling gospel group with his family and in the church choir. He moved to Detroit as a teenager to pursue music career, where his brother Jimmy was doing the same. Ruffin first came to prominence as a lead singer for the
Temptations in 1964 under Berry Gordy and Motown Records.
During his time with the group, which consisted of Otis and Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, and Melvin Franklin, Ruffin had much success producing numerous hit singles and albums on
both the R&B and Pop charts. Some of the Temptations’ hits during Ruffin’s era from 1964-1968 included “My Girl”, “Since I Lost My Baby”, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”, and “I Wish It Would Rain”, among other hits.
As a solo artist, Ruffin recorded hits such as 1973’s “Common Man” and 1975’s “Walk Away From Love.”
For his hard work, Ruffin was inducted into the Rock & Roll HOF in 1989 as a member of the Temptations and the R&B HOF in 2013 as both a solo artist and Temptation.
Ruffin was eventually foreclosed out of this house on Parkside, his belongings tossed onto the street while he was serving time in prison in Indiana for tax evasion in 1982. He struggled with substance abuse and he died in 1991 in Philadelphia after an adverse reaction to cocaine and other drugs. He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit.
His musical legacy will be celebrated on the night of the street-naming event with a free public gathering at Bert’s Entertainment Complex, 2727 Russell in Eastern Market. Those festivities will start at 6 p.m.
Ruffin’s designation follows honorary Detroit street titles for figures such as Berry Gordy, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder, marked with blue placards atop the primary street signage. There are also streets named after the Temptations, Supremes, Miracles, Originals, Four Tops, Contours, Aretha Franklin, and Martha Reeves in the Woodbridge Estates.