Joe Herndon (from left), Terry Weeks, Otis Williams, Bruce Williamson and Ronald Tyson of The Temptations perform during “The Temptations and The Four Tops on Broadway” at Palace Theatre on Dec. 29, 2014, in New York City. (Photo: John Lamparski/FilmMagic)
Bruce Williamson, 49, a long-running voice of The Temptations, has died from coronavirus.
The R&B singer died Sunday evening at Mountain View Hospital in Las Vegas, his business manager, Anta Ealy, confirms to USA TODAY. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late August, Ealy says, weeks after having his gallbladder removed.
“There’s no words in the world that can express how I feel right now,” Bruce Alan Williamson Jr., the singer’s son, wrote in an emotional post on Monday. “I love you Daddy thank you for being awesome thank you for being loving thank you for being Who You Are. … We will meet again.”
“We mourn the loss of one of our brothers,” original Temptation Otis Williams told USA TODAY in a statement on Monday. “Once you are a Temptation, you are always a Temptation.”
Later Monday, Williamson’s son posted a live video of himself captioned, “Hurt is not the word for it,” in which he sang gospel songs and reminisced about his father.
“My dad was a great dude,” he said.
Bruce Williamson, center, and Otis Williams, right, of The Temptations perform for President George W. Bush, seated, center back to camera, at a celebration of African American History Month, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (Photo: RON EDMONDS/AP)
Williamson was with The Temptations just short of 10 years and left in 2015, his manager says. He replaced G.C. Cameron in the long-running Motown group famed for beloved 1960s hits like “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”
“He was a great guy,” Ealy says, “and an amazing talent,” who performed packed shows throughout Vegas.
The singer remembered having to convince Williams to take him into The Temptations. “He thought I was too big and too young,” Williamson told Las Vegas Black Image Magazine in 2013. But Williams came around when he saw Williamson work the crowd at a Temptations performance. “When we went off-stage, Otis said, ‘That’s what I’m talking about!’ and it’s been smooth sailing every since,” the singer said.
Williamson, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, began singing in church at an early age. As a teen, he moved with his family to Las Vegas, where he performed in the EFX show at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino before becoming a featured lead singer in the Motown Café Moments.
With The Temptations, he performed on Broadway and at the White House in a 2008 African American History Month performance in the East Room attended by President George W. Bush.
Later, he joined the vocal trio Sons of Soul, appearing at the House of Blues Gospel Brunch, and sang with the Lon Bronson Band.
At the time of his death, Williamson was working on R&B and gospel albums with producer Darryl Ross, his manager says.
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