Saturday, November 27, 2021

‘Ball Of Confusion’: New Memoir by Former Temptation Richard Street is Mighty Temptin’

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ball of confusion - my life as a temptation
I remember reading somewhere that Richard Street, a former member of The Temptations, had written a book – “Ball Of Confusion: My Life As A Temptin’ Temptation” (Tate Publishing) – but I forgot all about it.

Thankfully his former wife, Caldin “Cal” Street – lead singer of The Velvelettes (“Needle In A Haystack”) – recently sent me a copy.

After reading it, I was surprised that the book did not get as much fanfare as it deserves. First published in 2014, it offers a new perspective of the Motown story, and serves to help absolve founder Berry Gordy of accusations of wrongdoing.

Here are some highlights: Remember the restroom scene in the NBC production of The Temptations where Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin audition for Gordy? Richard says it was actually the whole group, and that the vocals of his first tenor and Melvin’s bass singing Ted Turner’s “Be Ever Wonderful” were the standouts that prompted Gordy to eventually sign them on as The Temptations; but Richard was not included. There’s a hint in this about backroom politics. Read about why, and how he anguished through coming to grips with it.

Then he writes about a “Supreme” love affair with a childhood sweetheart who became a mega-star. The writing is crafted to keep you guessing until the story unravels. Read all about it!


richard street
Richard Street

Richard was there from the beginning. As fate would have it, he ended up in Quality Control, giving the thumbs up or down on recordings at the emerging black-owned record company on Detroit’s west side called Hitsville. So, when Al Bryant was dismissed from the Tempts, and Otis asked Richard for a referral to replace him, rather than Richard – whose range spanned all the parts – being opportunistic, he selflessly recommended David Ruffin. Read about how it was revealed to him that The Temptations as we knew them then (David, Eddie, Paul, Melvin and Otis) were divinely appointed. Then too, Richard was loyal and committed to his own group called The Monitors best known for the song “Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam).”

Richard can be heard on the Grammy Award winning song “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” singing: “Heard some talk about Papa doing some storefront preachin’. Talkin’ about saving souls and all the time leechin’. Dealing in dirt and stealing in the name of the Lord. Mama just hung her head and said…” He was also the lead vocalist on “Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)” among others. Read how he shares why the chart-topper “Hey Girl” got pulled off the air.

Read about the Tempts encounter with “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali when he knocked on their dressing room door at the Aladdin Quarters in Cherry Hills, New Jersey. It’s hilarious!

Also, read about the irony of a comment he made about (now President) Donald Trump. The book was written before Trump announced his candidacy in 2015.

The book, written with Gary Flanigan – professor of entertainment law – is a must read serving to help round out all the other books by such Motown legends as Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wilson, Martha Reeves, Diana Ross and many more.

To order a copy please go to

Here’s a tune “Say You” by The Monitors with Richard on lead vocals. The song was also recorded by The Temptations with David Ruffin on lead.

Larry Buford
Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, and author of Book/CD titled "Things Are Gettin' Outta Hand" (Steuben Pub.) He writes Human Interest articles and entertainment reviews for various newspapers across the country. He is also an editor, and provides services for press releases, interviews, business letters, resumes, etc. A native Detroiter, he is a former Motown songwriter.



  1. Quote from the book: “Well, Marvin was da man. Despite all ‘this, that, and the other’ that’s been written and said, Marvin Gaye was an extremely talented brother. His silky smooth speaking and singing voice had an edge that would melt a female right smack dab in her seat.”

    Speaking on David Ruffin: “David’s image was casting a shadow over all the Motown family. Via the presence of David Ruffin, the Temptations had grown bigger than Motown. The Temptations were Motown.”


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