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Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The Troubled Lives and Enduring Soul of the Temptations Hardcover – 17 Sep 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (17 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047026117X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470261170
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.9 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 490,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product description

From the Inside Flap

They are pure Motown royalty and the most successful African–American recording goup in history. During their long and brilliant run, the Temptations have sold twenty–five million records and produced seventeen Top 40 pop hits (four No. 1 hits), seventy–one Top 40 R&B hits (fourteen No. 1 hits) and fifty–two albums. And, like all royalty, they have had more than their share of triumphs, tragedies and family feuds. In Ain′t Too Proud to Beg, New York Times Notable Book author Mark Ribowsky takes a cohesive and penetrating look at the enduring legacy of one of the greatest groups in popular music. He examines the lives of the Temptations′ many members and takes you behind the scenes to discover the truth behind the major events of the group′s Motown prime, from 1961 to 1974. Ribowsky draws on in–depth research and probing new interviews with well–known Motown veterans, famly members, and friends to create accurate and compelling portraits of complex, sometimes troubled–yet always talented–personalities. He traces the group′s history from its pre–Motown years, through the glory days of “My Girl” and “Just My Imagination,” to their pioneering and immensely popular early funk recordings, including “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and “Cloud Nine.” Venturing beyond the money and the fame, he tells a powerful true story of sometime allies, sometime rivals and reveals the unique push–and–pull, give–and–take dynamic that resulted in musical genius. From the sharp suits, stylish choreography and distinctive vocals that epitomized their onstage triumphs to the personal failings and psychodramas that have played out behind the scenes, Ribowsky tells the whole story of this most popular—and tragic—of all Motown supergroups. You′ll discover the truth behind the deaths of David Ruffin and Paul Williams, Ruffin′s tumultuous romance with Tammi Terrell and the secret “can′t miss” formula that generated dozens of Temptations hits. You′ll also hear plenty from the line that connects all of these dots: Temptations founder and only surviving member Otis Williams. Including photos of the Temptations then and now, Ain′t Too Proud to Beg is the definitive biography of Motown′s brightest stars. It is essential reading for Temptation′s fans, Motown lovers and anyone interested in the history of American popular culture over the last fifty years.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Mark Ribowsky "A dishy, insider look at Berry Gordy′s making of the Supremes…Ribowsky nicely intersperses some hindsight reflections by the main players…In this engaging, vivacious account, Ribowksy energetically and thoroughly underscores the Supremes′ significance as one fo the first crossover successes." — Publishers Weekly on The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success and Betrayal "Perfect…The virtue of Ribowsky′s book is that he brings the story down to earth without sacrificing its drama. Relying on frank and extensive interviews…Ribowsky spends time on details other writers have taken for granted." —Greil Marcus on He′s a Rebel: Phil Spector—Rock and Roll′s Legendary Producer "Ribowksy′s exploration of Wonder′s music is first–rate." — Publishers Weekly on Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Soulful Journey of Stevie Wonder The Definitive Biography of Motown′s Greatest Group–The Temptations Based on in–depth research and interviews with fouding Temptations member Otis Williams, family members, industry figures and others, Ain′t Too Proud to Beg takes a penetrating look at the lives and enduring legacy of Motown′s all–time bestselling group. Whether you′re a Temptations fan, a Motown aficionado or a pop–culture buff, you must read this book.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Yes, another great read, highly recommended
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Of the three of Mark Ribowsky's Motown-themed books, this is easily the best.

The stories may be familiar but the author has enlisted the help of a crowd of people who were witnesses, including Dennis Edwards and Otis Williams and the families of other essential group members. He puts facts right, corrects wrong impressions created by the Temptations television mini-series, and offers a more balanced view of the rough times of all the group members.

Apart from a lingering whiff of bias against Berry Gordy and Diana Ross from his Supremes book, this reads as a fair history of Motown's favourite male group.

In particular, the author has dug into the pre-Motown histories of the early group. This gives the reader a great insight into why some of the guys grew into troubled adults.

The book is peppered with anecdotes about Tammi Terrell's tempestuous relationship with David Ruffin, as well as glimpses at a variety of other Motown acts, all of which will fascinate Motown fans.

I loved it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When stories are told in years to come about the greatest musical moments in the 20th Century, Motown will get their fair share of praise, Berry Gordy and co. had a knack for finding hugely talented singers who chimed with the public consciousness and, for me, the jewel in the crown (at least until a young boy called Michael appeared) was The Temptations.
Not only did these guys harmonise in a way that very few groups have been able to emulate, but they managed to bring politics into thir music as effectively as anyone, without compromising on the tunes.
Mark Ribowsky does a great job here of telling the band's story, but most importantly, through interviews and a way with words, he builds a picture of the society the band grew up in.
If you want to understand what it was like to be a black musician at a time of great social and polititcal change, this tells the tale as well as anything I've read!
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By Apollo 11 VINE VOICE on 14 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Temptations' tale certainly has its dramas. Drink, drugs, a dubious death, let alone the eternal question of why the heck Diana Ross ever made it to the superstar status she did (and Gladys Knight didn't, given the latter's killer vocals). Ribowsky has done a commendable job of piecing the story of this amazing act together. What's also indirectly present throughout this biography is a sense of these having being times long passed; among the references to crushing country poverty, racism and pimp hustlers, there is a feeling that, for all its familiarity, the sound of Motown echoes from across history.

However, the latter also shows up a severely disappointing weakness in the author's work. For all the names and dates, chart positions, let alone the rolling drama, there is little evocation - or, greater context - to the vibrant world turning around them. Granted, Ribowsky does paint in the picture of the Detroit riots, principally because they were key in accelerating Berry Gordy's decision to move Motown out of Detroit to Hollywood. But if the author had only laid on an extra layer of social history (discussing the city of Detroit itself in greater depth, perhaps, or explaining the evolution of the many musical styles that come and go) this would - could - have been a massively valuable historical document.

Instead, what tends to occur is an, at times, overwhelming weight of names, characters and facts take precedence, bogging the reader down and testing patience. This is especially true during the phase when the Temptations are struggling to form, hold together and strike their first major hit. For that reason, I'm not sure that this is a book for the passing curious; but then again, I guess it depends what you're looking for.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Fascinating book, I grew up (all be it later than their heyday) listening to the Temptations and all the Motown Greats.
When you think of the temptations, you automatically think "the original motown boy band" you never realise half of what is detailed in this book, the drink the drugs the death, and all in all it's a real eye opener.

The author did the temptations justice that is rightly deserved, they could have gone down the route of modern day autobiographical style, crass, shocking and just pumped up to sell, think Katie Price etc and you get what I mean, where as "Ain't too proud to beg" does the band justice, and treats their story with the respect and open frankness it deserves.

If you love The Temptations, but this book, it won't disappoint.
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By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 21 May 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Temptations transcended the sometimes overly commercial Motown sound, owing more to contemporaries such as James Brown and Wilson Pickett in their strutting, gospel-bawling maginificence. Inevitably their biographer mines the tragedy and soap opera that lies behind the glorious sound and choreography of the act, but it does give an idea of why the band was so good, and (despite the individual talents of Ruffin, Kendrick, Edwards, et al) greater than the sum of its parts. Obviously nothing can beat a spin of some of their greatest tunes from the 60s and 70s, but Ribowsky's tome offers context and background to the music.
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