Initial news on the passing of Temptations lead singer Dennis Edwards made no mention of an official cause of death. But a new report suggests that the legendary vocalist died of complications from meningitis, a disease he battled for several months before his untimely death.
Speaking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Brenda Edwards said that her husband Dennis, who died in a Chicago hospital on Thursday two days before what would have been his 75th birthday, had been “in and out of hospitals” since he was first diagnosed with meningitis in May 2017. While she did not provide additional details on Edwards’ cause of death or the exact complications from his bout with meningitis, publications such as the Mirror noted that the singer was undergoing rehabilitation for an aneurysm at the time of his passing.
Around the time Edwards was reportedly diagnosed with meningitis, Vintage Vinyl News cited one of Dennis’ friends who wrote on Facebook that the singer was admitted to a St. Louis hospital not long after he performed a concert date in Canada. The friend, Ken Bedford, chose not to disclose any information on the reason for Edwards’ hospitalization, simply stating that he was “seriously ill” and had a number of concert dates scheduled in the following weeks.
As noted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dennis Edwards was not considered part of the first successful Temptations lineup that included David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, and Otis Williams, the latter of whom is the “classic” lineup’s only surviving member. He did, however, take over from Ruffin as lead vocalist in the late ’60s, leading the Motown legends during their “psychedelic soul” period, which included hit singles such as “Cloud Nine,” “I Can’t Get Next To You,” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” As such, Dennis was widely considered as the “sixth Temptation” and had joined Otis Williams in representing the group as they received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2013.
Speaking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dennis Edwards’ fellow soul icon, Ronald Isley of the Isley Brothers did not make reference to his cause of death but acknowledged that he was aware that Dennis was ill. He paid tribute to his longtime friend, opining that the music industry doesn’t have too many people “left with voices like his.”
“We prayed for him and hoped he would get himself together and be able to come back. But he’s with the Lord now,” said Isley.