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My Father

david ruffin

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“I was in awe! I didn’t know how important it was, until later in life” – DRJ  No, but seriously, I can tell you plenty about the blessing and curse of being the son of such a talented, world renowned, super entertaining extraordinaire! However, my father was also what you might call “a good ‘ol boy”! He wasn’t always Mr. Entertainment! So, here on this page, I may make mention of some of the highlights of his professional greatness. But more importantly,  I want to share some of my person stories, feelings or experiences that I’ve had with your favorite Temptation, Mr. David Ruffin!  On this DRJ/DR page, you may be reminded of some things that you’ve already read, heard or maybe even seen with your own eyes! I hope you wont mind me reminding you, that one of his best talents in life, (in addition to his voice of course), was his Stage Presence! Which might have had something to do with him being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 89 for his work, invovlement and contributions with and to The Temptations.  Maybe you’ve actually heard him deliver one of his most powerful songs? Such as “Common Man” (Solo), “Statue of a Fool” (Solo) or “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” & “Just My Imagination” (w/Tempts), in person …with your very own eyes and ears! Maybe somewhere, you’ve already read that in 2008, Rolling Stone Magazine listed him (David Ruffin) at no# 65, in their Top 100 Greatest Singers of All Times? [Ummm, and yes of course, without a doubt! … I’m sure we could go back and forth with one another right now, about how BBM placed him so low in the dang-on standings!) (Laughing, but frowning too! …Wink)  But lets keep things light and free as possible on this particular David Ruffin page today!  Yes, perhaps one day I may actually finish the book I’ve started a number of times and not have to go through all of this, but once! But until then, I suppose we’ll chat here at from time to time and cross those bridges if and when we get to them. For now, a little more about Dad!  Long Story Short, David Ruffin’s blood runs through me like Oil!   It’s thick, messy, can technically kill any life form trapped in its slick, but yet so friggin Valuable!  The part of the history of David Ruffin that I can speak on without pause is the life I’VE lived with and or for Him. Before and after his death!  As for his so-called attitude, I can bet you this; 90% of the same people that you know personally, can be a pain in the ass at times? My Pops certainly could be difficult, if provoked or coerced! Or if he suspected somebody wasn’t on the up & up with him about something. It didn’t matter if it was business or personal … if something smelled fishy, he would usually ask questions. And not necessarily in a loving, sensitive way! (shoulder shrug)  But he’s Capricorn as well, sooo! (laughing)  As from where I stood, my father was changing for the better, when he passed away!  I can tell you that I know for a fact, by his words (and from what my “gut” told me at the time in 91), that my Father had grown tired of his lifestyle! His habits or cravings had gotten the best of him. Here’s one of those times when his Ego and its desire to challenge things, were right on time!  Pops was looking more towards the light and future, then any Darkness he had already seen.  He had been victim long enough! As well as, responsible for having created within his Family and Friends, a lack of a more solid foundation and future! I’ll go on record and say; that my Father was (when Sober), one of thee funniest, goofiest, relaxed and most cooperative guys you could know! If you really got to know him that is!  He wasn’t difficult when the Glitz and Glam didn’t have him in Work Mode and People Pleasing!  Which, for most of you Energy drinking, RedBull addicts in denial about “needing” a fix to get you through the day, should be relatable! No? You don’t get grouchy when your energy is keeping your productivity to a minimum? Right! And Gas is a dollar at your local Mobil station! (laugh with me)  However unfortunate … In my Pop’s eyes, everyone was out to get him somehow!  And although it wasn’t true most of the time, no one could tell him otherwise!  He had been played for years (and par for the course), and had also unintentionally run the scheme on others long enough his-damn-self! It appeared to me, that he was coming to grasps with that Rebel Part of him self and wanted to change things. He was physically and mentally tired of trying to keep up with his crazy thoughts and wanted to feel more of what his Heart really wanted!  But, sometimes, we as human beings don’t have or aren’t taught the proper tools or technics to cope with the trials and tribulations that life deals us! Education can’t determine that outcome either. So, please don’t hold any one person in your community responsible for too long. (I don’t)  Dad is gone in the flesh … and deep down, a small piece of me still has beef with him still for leaving ME so early in life! (Teary-eyed Smile)  How about this for trying to be a good Dad and still hanging around: 2 weeks prior to his passing away to the next level, we had discussed the future of my singing career. I was supposed meet him in Hartford in 2 weeks, jump on the last few dates on the American part of the Tempts tour and we’d head back to Detroit and get to making music history again!  Yeah, well … luckily, now-a-days and also from some other plain, still pops in on sessions from time to time! But its hard to ever understand the mmmmoaning and mmmmumbling? (laughing)  Maybe he’s trying to tell me to hit them notes up a certain way! (Chuckle)  I get the feeling, that he’s advising me …but It just distracts me at times.  (in a good way though I suppose)    The fact that my Father made it through ALL the adversities, of not only life as a child in the south offered him! But for recognizing and attempting to undo what the money, sex, drugs and power had done to him thus far! Yet somehow still be sure it doesn’t happen to me.   
Things get trendy and sometimes, we forget to move on to the next. Or better yet, forget to go back to our old selves, once the trend has passed?  At least it was confirmation to me, that he saw it for himself … in himself!  He began to recognize his own patterns.   Maybe it was just that time in his life, where we grow up a little!?!  But he for one, had been living life as a grown up since he was 3. Doing a lot of fending for him self. Learning who and what was going to help him get away from where he no longer wanted to be!  Just like you, your friend, the neighbor lady next door, ol’man George at the store on the corner, Brenda the babysitter that’s dances at Jiggles or young Brandon from the projects… we all just trying to figure our way out of the madness!  Having said all of this …I’ll break it down real quick: David Ruffin was the youngest Son of Elias “Eli” Ruffin and Ophelia Ruffin and grew up hard, tough and fast, Although my father never got to know his birth mother had a new Mom that his father married, named Earline. Who by the way, was the only one of my 3 grandparents that I had the pleasure of even knowing! She was a warm, soft-spoken lady, who always kept a candle burning for her “lil Davey”. Earline, like my mom and couple of other girlfriends along the way, wanted to help him find the real him that was hidden since a baby. Im sure they simply sought to provide him a safe place that might allow him a moment to actually be weak or unsure. Everyone needs a haven or anchorage in his or her lives, don’t you think?  His brother and sister were the 1st ones to attempt, lending a hand in hopes of him finding his way and purpose! Oldest brother Quincy B., (previous son before Ophelia), Rita Mae and Jimmie Lee, where trying to find themselves too! But never wanted left lil bro behind to fend for himself … so they did their best to let him tag along on their, time away from home when they could. Fortunately, traveling together as a family probably helped a great deal in giving him some security. As a Gospel song singing family, they all at least knew the inspiration and “word” well enough, to “keep hope alive” in the expectation of finding success, peace and a safer environment! Right around that time, Dads big brother QB had gone off to serve in the Armed Forces, so he wasn’t alone for the ride. Dad, along with his father and their stepmother as a family gospel group, opening shows for Mahalia Jackson and 5 Blind Boys Gospel groups, did well enough on the road for dad to institute a career in secular music. (Time to leave to nest)  Dad traveled with many other groups honing his skill set and tightening up his knowledge of what entertainment looked like! Before the music turned into a machine! Back then Pops was simply happy to be doing his style of music, out on the road, learning and living “the life” his way! Yes, his father was a Preacher, but he was a mean spirited, devilish type of man! So after my dad’s jumping through the hoops, and having to be contributor to the family’s travel, lodging and food expenses. I can imagine how hard that must have been for him to be responsible for the family, at such a young age, and then to not be paid correctly! Or should I say, Fairly! Or perhaps, just being treated well could have been the deciding factor?  Who know? But I’m absolutely sure that he and his siblings wanted a different life. Who wouldn’t want to escape the “madness”, if they could?  So, ending up in Detroit to actually record and release his 1st song had to be the best feeling in the world for him at the time! I can imagine the smile on his face when his saw a record with his voice and name on it! It was entitled “You and I” Don’t even ask me why he used the name BUSH! Whatever the reason, I’m sure he felt like he knew what he was doing!    Shortly there after, he got a break! Thanks to his friends in Detroit having a place to put him up and his big brothers involvement and relationship with the whole Gordy family, he got the opportunity to join the Temptations in 64! Subsequently, he left in 68 and returned in 82, to do the Reunion record and Tour with fellow previous and current Temptations; David “Melvin Franklin” English, Eddie Kendrick, Dennis Edwards, Glen Leonard, Richard Street, Otis Williams.  I’m guessing that although they weren’t able to make a longer run of the tour with the 7 of them, that Eddie, Dennis and Dad  inked up to Tour the world under the recently fought in court for name of the “Tempts”, doing what they knew best! Now with the better half of the original group and a renewed interest to create the memories that their fans craved!     Pops rode that wagon til the wheels fell off. I think he was once again  inside of the element that made him most comfortable in life. And to not be doing it in the alone anymore,  was probably  a relief as well. Not that the tour  wouldn’t have continued for years to come,  but the wheels that were  getting rickety  and falling apart, were his very own! So, yes everyone that knew my father, also knew of his baggage and struggles with his dependencies and dwindling health.Do I believe that my father was a victim of his own demise? Or that there was foul play in him suddenly dying? I am sure that he wanted the madness that he was feeding the fiend  in him, would just to go away! Here’s my last thought on that whole thing in a nutshell; Good, Bad or Indifferent, my father was somewhat of a professional in all he did. I’m saying that to say, my father knew his limitations and boundaries in whatever extra curriculum behaviors he chose to be a part of or take part in. I feel it’s safe to say that perhaps someone did indeed taint his stimulants! My father could be a jere if and when he couldn’t do his thing when he wanted to. But who parties alone? It’s safe to say, that my Pops wasn’t selfish in the department. He would share til it was time to shut the party down. Having somehow, inadvertently shared the information that he had 40 thousand dollars on him, with the wrong person, could be the reason behind any criminally minded, desperate person would suddenly switch up on him. I don’t know how someone could concoct a drug you can smoke and could kill you in a matter of minutes? So, although I remain suspicious to this day, I am also reminded of the torment and suffering that my father was feeling in his last month’s on this planet and for that alone, I do my best to stay unselfish and not dwell on the “could have beens” too often! Every January, every June, every July, every November and December, are the months then I think about him most. I don’t expect that these feelings of regret or emptiness will ever go away. So in the meantime and in between time, I will do my best to keep the torch lit, in spite of my deepest feelings and knowledge.  By the way, there’s another generation of Ruffins following me, so I don’t expect this flame to go out anytime soon! Just remember, (like you and me), outside of the dance moves he helped you learn, the babies he helped you create that warm winter night or the signature he put on your favorers album or t-shirt, he’s just a man!  Please give him that Freedom!  My choice of words, elaboration and or lack of mention to the Demons that I feel truly believed possessed my father, doesn’t eliminate them from my existence!  Its just that there is a time and place for everything and above all, #weallmakemistakes!  Hopefully, someone beside ourselves, can learn from them! – Long live David Ruffin     This page is dedicated to the Living Memory of My Father David Ruffin, these thoughts are exclusively my own and may change or be removed at any time!   ThankQue All For Loving Him … Good, Bad or Indifferent – DRJ (12-1-15)      
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Mr. David Ruffin Jr aka D-RUFF
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