Papa was a Rolling Stone – The Temptations

The Temptations are an American vocal group that achieved fame as one of the most successful acts to record for Motown Records. The group’s repertoire has included, at various times during its five-decade career, R&B, doo-wop, funk, disco, soul, and adult contemporary music.

Formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1960 as The Elgins, the Temptations have always featured at least five male vocalists/dancers. The group, known for its recognizable choreography, distinct harmonies, and onstage suits, has been said to be as influential to soul as The Beatles are to pop and rock.

The original group included members of two local Detroit vocal groups: The Distants, which featured second tenor Otis Williams, first tenor Elbridge “Al” Bryant and bass Melvin Franklin; and first tenor/falsetto Eddie Kendricks and second tenor/baritone Paul Williams (no relation to Otis) from The Primes. Among the most notable future Temptations were lead singers David Ruffin and Dennis Edwards (both of whom became successful Motown solo artists after leaving the group), Richard Street (another former Distant), Damon Harris, Ron Tyson, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Theo Peoples, and G.C. Cameron. Like its sister female group, the Supremes, the Temptations’ lineup has changed frequently particularly in recent decades.

Papa was a Rolling Stone

“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” is a soul song, written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong as a single for Motown act The Undisputed Truth in 1971. This version of “Papa” was released as a single in early 1972, and peaked at number sixty-three on the pop charts and number twenty-four on the R&B charts.

Later in 1972, Whitfield, who also produced the song, took “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and remade it as a twelve-minute record for The Temptations.

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It was the third of September.
That day I’ll always remember, yes I will.
‘Cause that was the day that my daddy died.
I never got a chance to see him.
Never heard nothing but bad things about him.
Mama, I’m depending on you, tell me the truth.

And Mama just hung her head and said,
“Son, Papa was a rolling stone.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
(And when he died) All he left us was ALONE.”
“Papa was a rolling stone, my son.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
(And when he died) All he left us was ALONE.”

Well, well.

Hey Mama, is it true what they say,
that Papa never worked a day in his life?
And Mama, bad talk going around town
saying that Papa had three outside children and another wife.
And that ain’t right.
HEARD SOME talk about Papa doing some store front preaching.
TalkIN about saving souls and all the time leeching.
Dealing in debt and stealing in the name of the Lord.

Mama just hung her head and said,
“Papa was a rolling stone, my son.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
(And when he died) All he left us was ALONE.”
“Hey, Papa was a rolling stone.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
(And when he died) All he left us was ALONE.”

Uh!

Hey Mama, I heard Papa call himself a jack of all trade.
Tell me is that what sent Papa to an early grave?
Folk say Papa would beg, borrow, steal to pay his bill.
Hey Mama, folk say that Papa was never much on thinking.
Spent most of his time chasing women and drinking.
Mama, I’m depending on you to tell me the truth. Mama looked up with a tear in her eye and said,
“Son, Papa was a rolling stone. (Well, well, well, well)
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
(And when he died) All he left us was ALONE.”
“Papa was a rolling stone.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
(And when he died) All he left us was ALONE.”

“I said, Papa was a rolling stone. Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
(And when he died) All he left us was ALONE.”

  • Audio from the 1972 album,  All Directions:
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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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