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How Did Temptations Singer Melvin Franklin Die? His Noble Struggle

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.

He was “Blue,” and he was the bass voice that made our hearts pound with every note he sang. Because of that, Melvin Franklin has been one of the Temptations members who have continued to live on in our hearts more than all the others, even after more than 25 years of him being gone. With his distinct vocals and his unmatched commitment and loyalty, he has gone down as a musical legacy, and there’s no doubt as to why. 

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

the temptations singer, how did temptations singer melvin franklin die
Photo of the Temptations in 1971. Image by Multi-Media Management/Gordy Records on Wikimedia Commons.

How Did Temptations Singer Melvin Franklin Die?

Melvin Franklin’s cause of death was heart failure, following a series of seizures that led up to his final hospitalization. Some have also reported that Melvin Franklin’s cause of death was convulsions or seizures, which were a contributing factor. 

Prior to Melvin Franklin’s death, he spent years battling multiple health problems, beginning in 1968 when he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. While he managed his symptoms with cortisone shots, the several years of use had a profound effect on his immune system. This made him vulnerable to infections and several other health problems. 

Most prominently, he developed diabetes in the 1980s, later contracting necrotizing fasciitis, causing him to be rushed to the hospital and undergo surgery on his arm. When this happened, he was forced to take oxygen tanks with him whenever he was on tour. Which Temptation ended up in a wheelchair? While Franklin was not bound to a wheelchair, one would also be waiting backstage for him while the Temptations were performing. 

Sadly, it all came to its ultimate head in January 1995. While recording the Temptations album, For Lovers Only, two of his fellow bandmembers, Ali-Ollie Woodson and Otis Williams, noticed that blood was staining Franklin’s sock. While he was taken to recover at home, he later fell into a coma on February 17, 1995. 

Related: How Did Temptations Singer Eddie Kendricks Die?

When Did Melvin Franklin Die?

Melvin Franklin passed away on February 23, 1995, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. 

Franklin was survived by his wife, whom he was married to for many years. He was also survived by their six children. 

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Photo of the music group The Temptations in 1968. Image is in the Public Domain.

How Old Was Melvin Franklin When He Died?

Just like his fellow Temptations singer, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin was just 52 years old when he passed away. 

Where is Melvin Franklin Buried?

Melvin Franklin’s funeral was held not long after his death, with several mourners showing up. One of the most notable attendees at Melvin Franklin’s funeral was Smokey Robinson, who sang “Really Gonna Miss You” to commemorate his life. 

Following the service, Franklin was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills. 

Who Inherited Melvin Franklin’s Money?

The terms of Melvin Franklin’s will, in particular, who would inherit Melvin Franklin’s estate, have never been revealed. However, it is assumed that his family became the benefactors of Melvin Franklin’s estate, which was worth between $1 and $5 million at the time of his death. 

When was Melvin Franklin Born?

Melvin Franklin’s birthdate was October 12, 1942. 

Melvin Franklin’s Zodiac sign was Libra. That meant he was fair, fun-loving, sophisticated, and friendly. Sadly, that also meant it may have been more accessible for people to take advantage of him. 

Where was Melvin Franklin From?

Melvin Franklin was initially born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama; he later moved to Detroit, Michigan, with his family when he was 10 years old. 

Where Did Melvin Franklin Live?

At the time of Melvin Franklin’s death, he was living in Los Angeles County, California. 

How Tall was Melvin Franklin of the Temptations?

Although he wasn’t the tallest of the Temptations singers, he certainly held his own. Melvin Franklin’s height was 6 feet, one inch tall. 

original lineup of the temptations singers
Image taken in 1960. Image is in the Public Domain.

How Much Did Melvin Franklin Weigh?

Melvin Franklin’s weight was approximately 187 pounds. 

How Did Melvin Franklin Become Famous?

Unlike the other deceased members of the Temptations that we’ve reported on in the past, this deceased member’s entire professional life was dedicated to the success of the group. He is famous for being one of the co-founders of the popular “My Girl” singers, remaining with them from inception to his death, a commitment that spanned 34 years. 

Related: How Did Temptations Singer Dennis Edwards Die?

Melvin Franklin’s Parents

David Melvin English was born the song of a teenage mother, Rose English. His father was a preacher at his mother’s church, who sadly raped her. 

Not long after his birth, his mother married Willard Franklin, but he stayed behind in the care of his grandmother, not moving with his mother and stepfather to Detroit until 1952. Later, when he became a teenager, he adopted his father’s surname. 

Who Was Melvin Franklin Married To?

Melvin Franklin’s wife was named Kimberly Williams. 

Melvin Franklin’s Children

With his wife Kimberly, Melvin Franklin had six children. 


It all began in 1958 when Melvin Franklin met Otis Williams while attending Northwestern High School. As the latter was renegotiating a contract with Johnnie Mae Matthews, a record producer, regarding his group Otis Williams and the Siberians, the group’s original bass singer, Arthur Walton, backed out. As it seemed questionable what the group would do to continue, Franklin soon came right to Williams’ mind. When approached, Franklin didn’t accept right away, however. Instead, he said, “Well, I don’t know. You have to ask my momma.” 

With Rose Franklin’s permission, Franklin officially joined the group, renamed Otis Williams and the Distants, recording songs like “Come On” and “Alright” under Northern Records. 

When disputes happened and members of the group left, Franklin, alongside the remaining members, joined by new names like Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks, formed a new group. Originally called the Elgins, they became The Temptations after signing with Motown Records in March 1961. 

Why was Melvin Franklin called Blue? As the group dynamic formed alongside everyone else, he earned the nickname “Blue” from his fellow members, all thanks to the Italian song “Nel blu, dipinto di blu,” which he was reportedly obsessed with. 

As he and Otis Williams became the only original founding members of the group never to leave, Franklin became well known as one of the most famous bass singers in music, as his deep vocals became a signature trademark for fans. 

Just like most of the other members of The Temptations over the years, Franklin had his time to shine on several hits, singing lead vocals on such Temptations songs like “I Truly, Truly Believe,” “Silent Night,” “The Prophet,” and probably his most signature of them all, was the live performance of “Ol’ Man River.”

Similarly, Franklin became the go-to for the group when ad-libs and harmony vocals were needed. He also shined bright during the group’s psychedelic soul era, delivering some of the most notable sections of the group’s big songs. 

The only time that Franklin ever missed a tour was in 1978 due to an incident outside a hair salon in West Hollywood. As reports go, Franklin was shot in the hand and leg during a carjacking. As he struggled with the criminal, the latter recognized the famous singer, pushed him out of the car, and quickly sped off in the car. Because of his injuries, he was unable to go on the Temptations Tour in Poland. For the tour, Otis Williams took over the bass parts of the performance. 

While The Temptations was clearly his most significant project, Franklin also dabbled in a little bit of voice acting throughout his career, providing the voice of “Wheels” in the animated series Pole Position in 1984.  

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

Just months before his death, his career came to an all-time high as he was able to be with his fellow band members as they received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in September 1994. Then, in January 1995, he recorded his final song, “Life Is but a Dream,” before he was hospitalized for the final time. 


Unlike many other members of The Temptations, Melvin Franklin was the epitome of loyalty to the group that made him who he was, showing nothing but love and dedication to the group, even in the face of adversity and illness. It’s clear that the world of music has continued to recognize that, too, even after his death as he was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award as a member of the Temptations in February 2013 and, later that same year, an induction into the Rhythm and Blues Musical Hall of Fame on August 17. 

Really, his lifelong friend, Otis Williams, said it best in 2020 when Franklin was remembered 25 years after his death. “If Melvin hadn’t have been so inflicted with arthritis – that’s what took him out – rheumatoid arthritis – Melvin would be sitting up here and you’d be hearing that big giant bass voice coming out of the speakers.” 

Knowing how true that it is, our hearts are filled and heartbroken at the same time. Rest in peace, Melvin Franklin. 

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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.


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