David Ruffin is best known as a member of The Temptations from 1964 to 1968. He sang lead vocals on some of the group’s most famous songs, including “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” Ruffin was revered by many, including fellow Motown alum Marvin Gaye.
Ruffin’s unique voice and engaging stage presence made him a favorite among Temptations fans. Unfortunately, his growing ego led to a number of problems within the group. In the late sixties Ruffin was noticeably addicted to cocaine. He began missing shows and rehearsals. When he was replaced by Dennis Edwards in 1968, Ruffin started arriving to performances uninvited, disrupting the show by joining the group onstage.
Outside of drama with Motown and The Temptations, Ruffin had a number of legal problems. He was sentenced to six months in prison in 1982 for failure to pay taxes in the mid-seventies. In 1986 he was charged with assault and battery and with concealing stolen property. In 1987 he was arrested for repeated parole violations when he was found with cocaine in his possession.
Cocaine was the beginning of the end for Ruffin. He died in 1991 due to an “adverse reaction to drugs.” Drugs and an inflated ego resulted in negative media attention and ultimately played part in David Ruffin’s downfall.