Elbridge Bryant was a founding member of the legendary Motown group The Temptations, who rose to fame in the 1960s with hits like My Girl, Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone, and Ain’t Too Proud to Beg. He was known by his nicknames Al or Bones, and had a tenor voice that blended well with the other singers. However, his life and career were cut short by alcoholism and liver cirrhosis, which claimed his life at the age of 36. How did this talented musician end up dying so young and what were the circumstances of his death? Here is a brief overview of his life story and the cause of his death.
Early Life and Music Career
Elbridge Bryant was born on September 28, 1939, in Thomasville, Georgia. He had some Native American ancestry in his bloodline. He moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he met his lifelong friend and bandmate Otis Williams. The two shared a passion for music and joined or formed several vocal groups together, such as the El Domingoes, the Siberians, and the Elgins.
The Elgins was the group that would eventually become The Temptations, after they added Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, and Paul Williams to their lineup. They changed their name to The Temptations and signed with Miracle Records, a subsidiary of Motown, in 1961. However, their first two singles did not achieve much success, and Miracle Records folded soon after. They then moved to Gordy Records, another Motown label, where they would find their breakthrough.
As a member of The Temptations, Bryant sang mostly background vocals, while occasionally taking the lead on songs like May I Have This Dance. He also played the guitar and the drums for the group. He was part of the original lineup that recorded 14 R&B singles for Motown, including classics like The Way You Do The Things You Do and My Girl. He also appeared on movie soundtracks like It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and Get On Up.
Alcoholism and Departure from The Temptations
Despite his musical success, Bryant had a problem with alcohol that affected his performance and behavior. He was nicknamed the “wild one” by his fellow group members, as he often drank heavily and got into fights with them or other people. He also missed rehearsals and shows frequently, causing friction with Motown executives and producers.
His alcoholism also took a toll on his health, as he developed liver cirrhosis, a condition that causes scarring and damage to the liver. This can lead to symptoms like jaundice, bleeding, swelling, fatigue, and confusion. Bryant’s condition worsened over time, making him unable to perform at his best.
In 1963, after a heated argument with Paul Williams during a show in Cleveland, Ohio, Bryant was fired from The Temptations and replaced by David Ruffin. He then tried to pursue a solo career, but did not achieve much success. He also sued Motown for unpaid royalties, but lost the case.
Death and Legacy
Bryant continued to struggle with alcoholism and liver cirrhosis until his death on October 26, 1975. He died in Florida at the age of 36. He was buried in Thomasville Cemetery in Georgia.
Bryant’s death was a tragic end to a promising career. He was one of the founding members of The Temptations, one of the most influential and successful groups in music history. He contributed to their early sound and style, and helped them achieve fame and recognition. He was also a talented singer and musician who had a unique voice and charisma.
Bryant’s legacy lives on through his music and his fans. He is remembered as an original member of The Temptations who left an indelible mark on the music industry. He is also honored by his former group members who have paid tribute to him in various occasions. In 1989, he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the other members of The Temptations.
Elbridge Bryant cause of death was a sad outcome of a life that had so much potential. He was a star who shone brightly but briefly in the musical sky. He will always be remembered as one of the pioneers of soul music and one of the legends of Motown.