Bruce Williamson, best known as the former frontman of legendary soul group The Temptations, has died aged 49. The singer died on Sunday, September 6, at his home in Las Vegas after battling the coronavirus, TMZ reports.
Williamson’s death was confirmed by his son, who paid tribute to his father on social media.
“There’s no words in the world that can express how I feel right now,” Bruce Williamson Jr. wrote on Facebook. “I love you Daddy, thank you for being awesome, thank you for being loving, thank you for being Who You Are. I pray to God and we will meet again.”
Born on September 28, 1970, in Compton, California, Williamson joined The Temptations in 2006 and performed with the group until 2015, singing lead on their albums Back To Front and Still Here. He was replaced by former Tower of Power vocalist Larry Braggs.
He was also a part of the group – best known for the iconic hits “My Girl”, “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, and “Get Ready” – when President George W. Bush invited them to perform at the White House for a celebration of Black History Month in February 2008.
Speaking in a 2013 interview with Las Vegas Black Image, Williamson credited his background in the church for creating the foundation for him to become a member of The Temptations.
“After seven years as a Temptation I am still in awe,” he said at the time, “and I can remember the first time I performed with the group: at a millionaire’s private birthday party, on a small stage that was erected on his tennis courts.”
“It was a beautiful house; Stevie Wonder’s house was right next door. There was a limited amount of room on the stage, and I could not play to the crowd as Otis [Williams] wanted me to. So when we got off the stage, Otis was saying, ‘You have to work the crowd,’ and I tried to interrupt to tell him why I was having difficulties on the small stage. But soon I got the hint to just listen to his criticism. The next time we performed on stage together, I had enough room to work the crowd and the audience went crazy. When we went off stage Otis said, ‘That’s what I am talking about!’ and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.”
After leaving The Temptations in 2015, Williamson directed his energy into singing the soul music he loved as a child.
“I never lost the dream of wanting to be a Temptation,’ he told Chapter & Verse Network in 2016. “But I didn’t want to be an imitation or one who impersonates my predecessors. I wanted to be myself.”
In recent years Williamson collaborated with the band BlackBerry Jam, and was working on a gospel project with the group before his death.