How Did Temptations Singer Dennis Edwards Die? Illness or Tragic Abuse?

how did the temptations singer melvin franklin die how did the temptations singer dennis edwards die the temptations on the ed sullivan show
Image is in the Public Domain.

Oh, the eras of The Temptations with the Motown sound. As the group dominated the 1960s and 1970s and remains active to this day, it has seen some significant changes among its lead vocalist over the years, with all but one of its original members now deceased.  

Dennis Edwards is one of those original members who is no longer with us, but his time with the legendary group will remain forever remembered. 

Who was Dennis Edwards, and how did Temptations singer Dennis Edwards die? Find out that and more below. 

how did temptations singer david ruffin die how did paul williams temptations singer die How Did Temptations Singer Dennis Edwards Die
Photo of the music group The Temptations in 1968. Image is in the Public Domain.

How Did Temptations Singer Dennis Edwards Die?

Dennis Edwards’ cause of death was complications from meningitis. 

Meningitis, usually caused by an infection, is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes. At the time of Dennis Edwards’ death, he was in an Illinois hospital. 

Despite the seemingly reasonable explanation, for a long time, there were many who didn’t accept that meningitis was Dennis Edwards’ cause of death. Following an autopsy, it was noted that the “manner and cause of death are pending” and under investigation.

Additionally, just prior to his death, an emergency protection order was filed by the Health Care Consortium of Illinois, as it was believed that his second wife, Brenda, was abusive towards him in the last months of his life. 

Brenda Edwards said of the allegations, “I loved Dennis, and we were married for 18 years. I would have never done anything to harm him. These allegations are false and defamatory and will be proven as such. Until this is all over, I have no further comment.” 

In the end, the Cook County Medical Examiner reported that there were no signs of abuse found and that Dennis Edwards’ cause of death was indeed from complications of meningitis. 

When Did Dennis Edwards Die?

Dennis Edwards passed away on February 1, 2018, just two days shy of his 75th birthday. 

Edwards was survived by his second wife, Brenda Edwards. He was also survived by his six children. 

How Old Was Dennis Edwards When He Died?

Dennis Edwards was 74 years old when he passed away

Where is Dennis Edwards Buried?

Dennis Edwards is buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. Established after the American Civil War, Edwards was buried there because of his time in military service as a Specialist 4 (SP4) in the United States Army. He served as a field artilleryman from January 1961 until December 1963, spending most of his enlistment in Europe. 

The burial followed Dennis Edwards’ funeral, which was arranged by Baucom’s Precious Memories Services funeral home in Jamestown, Missouri. Hundreds of mourners turned out for Dennis Edwards’ funeral, held not long after his death. 

“We are celebrating the life of a legacy,” said the officiant, Rev. Dr. Jim Holley. “You can’t have a full funeral for Dennis Edwards without having a service in Detroit. He really preached his own funeral.” 

Additionally, Dennis Edwards’ funeral featured many tributes, including “A Song For You,” sung by his son, and “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” sung by the Motown Gospel Choir on behalf of Aretha Franklin, who was unable to attend because of her own illness. 

Related: 21 Best 60s Songs

the temptations singer
Photo of the Temptations in 1971. Image by Multi-Media Management/Gordy Records on Wikimedia Commons.

Who Inherited Dennis Edwards’s Money?

Dennis Edwards’ estate had accrued to approximately $5 million at the time of his death. While Dennis Edwards’ will has never been revealed, nor has it been said that one existed, it is expected that his inheritance went to his wife, Brenda Edwards, as well as his six children. 

When was Dennis Edwards Born?

Dennis Edwards’s birthdate was February 3, 1943. 

Dennis Edwards’s Zodiac sign was Aquarius. That means he was a humanitarian, independent, intelligent, and so much more. 

Where was Dennis Edwards From?

Dennis Edwards was born in Fairfield, Alabama, and later grew up in Detroit, Michigan. 

Where Did Dennis Edwards Live?

At the time of Dennis Edwards’ death, he was living in Chicago, Illinois. 

How Tall was Dennis Edwards?

Dennis Edwards’s height was 6 feet, 5 inches tall. This makes Edwards the answer to the frequently asked question, “Who was the tallest of the original Temptations?” Just behind him were Richard Street, who was 6 feet, 4 inches, and David Ruffin, who was 6 feet, 3 inches. 

How Much Did Dennis Edwards Weigh?

Dennis Edwards’s weight was approximately 253 pounds. 

how did paul williams die the temptations on the ed sullivan show
1969 Press Publicity Photograph. Image is in the Public Domain. Publicity for Motown Records & The Ed Sullivan Show Left to right: Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, and Dennis Edwards.

How Did Dennis Edwards Become Famous?

Dennis Edwards was best known for being one of the frontmen in The Temptations under Motown Records. He was initially the replacement for David Ruffin in 1968. Throughout his time with the group, he came and left three times, singing with them from 1968 to 1976, 1980 to 1984, and 1987 to 1989. 

Related: The Top 15 Black Country Singers Spanning 100 Years

Dennis Edwards’s Parents

Dennis Edwards was the son of Reverend Dennis Edwards Sr. and Idessa Fuller. 

Who Was Dennis Edwards Married To?

Dennis Edwards was married first only briefly to his first wife, Ruth Pointer of The Pointer Sisters. The pair were wed in Las Vegas in 1977. 

Prior to his marriage to Pointer, Edwards was in a relationship with the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. Their relationship was so deep that even she has said that Edwards was the inspiration behind “Day Dreaming,” the soul song she released in 1972. 

At the time of Dennis Edwards’ death, he had been married to Brenda Edwards, although it is unclear how long they were together. After his death, there were many rumors going around that his second wife was abusing him before his death, which she has subsequently denied. “Everybody knows I loved my husband,” she responded at the time. 

Related: 17 Best Aretha Franklin Songs

Dennis Edwards’s Children

Dennis Edwards had one child from his marriage to Ruth Pointer. Dennis Edward’s daughter, Issa Pointer, eventually went on to become a member of The Pointer Sisters. 

Edwards also had four other daughters, Erika, Maya, Denise, and Alison. Dennis Edward’s son, Bernard Hubbard, was his only boy. 


While it’s already been established that Dennis Edwards’ career is most noted for his time with The Temptations, the future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee did have a solo career as well, being signed to Motown Records as a retainer in 1966. It was soon after that he joined The Contours, which would be the catalyst for him being introduced to The Temptations. 

He officially debuted with The Temptations in the second half of their show at the Forum in Los Angeles in July 1968. He was officially introduced to fans on July 9, 1968, at a later show in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. 

Dennis Edwards was a part of many albums with the Temptations, including Live at the Copa and Cloud Nine. Edwards also had his part in several hit singles for the group with such works as “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today),” “Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are,” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” 

It all seemed perfect until Jeffrey Bowen later stepped in as producer on The Temptations’ 1975 album A Song for You. During a recording session, he reportedly took Edwards aside and told him, “You don’t need to be with them guys. I can cut you into things, Dennis. You could be bigger on your own.” Between this and Edwards’s growing addiction to cocaine, much like former lead singer David Ruffin, he was fired from the group for his “intolerable attitude.” 

Following his first separation from the band, Dennis Edwards tried once again to establish his solo career, but to no avail. In fact, he ended up going to Cleveland, Ohio, and working in his uncle’s company, laying down concrete driveways. 

With a warning that the group would no longer “tolerate any nonsense,” Edwards rejoined the Temptations in 1980. Once again, things seemed to be OK, joining The Temptations for their album Power and its hit title track, but it only lasted until early 1984 when he was replaced yet again with Ali-Ollie Woodson after he went back into his old habits of missing shows and rehearsals. 

the temptations star on the hollywood walk of fame
Image from Shutterstock.

By the time 1984 rolled around, he attempted his solo career once again, this time coming out with such singles as “Don’t Look Any Further” with Siedah Garrett, “Just Like You,” and “(You’re My) Aphrodisiac.”

After three years of solo work, during which time he went on to release the Dennis Edwards album Coolin’ Out, he was brought to The Temptations for the third and final time after Woodson showed to have just as much of a struggle of arriving later for shows.

It was during this final stint that The Temptations released and recorded Together Again, which featured “I Wonder Who She’s Seeing Now.” Then, in 1989 (the same year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Edwards left for the final time to join another group, Ruffin, Kendricks, and Edwards.

Billed as the “Former Leads of The Temptations,” Edwards joined forces with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks for the next two years. While the group went on tours, a documentary was also made about them on MTV called Original Leads of the Temptations. 

As things continued to seemingly wind down with Dennis Edwards’s career in the early 1990s following Kendricks’ death, he did come out with one more solo album, Talk to Me; however, by this time, he was living in St. Louis, Missouri, to be closer to his mom. 

Then, in 1995, things really came to a head when he found himself in a legal battle with another member of The Temptations, Otis Williams after Edwards went on tour under the name “Dennis Edwards and the Knew Temptations.” Edwards ultimately came out on top and was allowed to continue performing under the name, although an appeal later ruled that the name had to change, to which Edwards changed the name to “The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards.” 

Related: Get to Know The Jackson 5


Despite the ups and downs with The Temptations, it’s no secret that it’s his time with the group that he’ll be remembered for the most, as proven by his many accolades as a member of the legendary group. Alongside his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he has also earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and an induction into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame because of his time with the group. For that, he will always remain a musical legend, and may he rest in peace. 

You May Also Like: 

Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





artists you didn't know were native american mildred bailey singing in a club in 1947

18 Artists You Didn’t Know Were Native American

singers who look young singers who suffer from a disease avril lavigne holding her arms up in concert

31 Singers Who Look Younger Than They Actually Are