Nine ACU students and one alumnus played backup for Motown legends The Temptations in a performance at the Abilene Civic Center on Sept. 27.
The Temptations were first formed in 1961 under the name The Elgins, but after signing with Motown Records – a company founded by Berry Gordy Jr. that launched the careers of acts such as The Supremes, Four Tops and Jackson 5 – the group changed its name to The Temptations and soon found success with their first hits The Way You Do the Things You Do and My Girl.
The group who played backup for the legends included sophomores Mary Potts, Anna Lawson, Jordan Morris, Geoffrey Driggers and Noah Hancock; juniors James Nix, Cedric Dario and Grayson Hancock; senior Abigail Kellogg, and Guy D. Gamble (’73).
Dr. Steven Ward, director of orchestra and bands, said he was honored when Creative Eventz, the company that hosted and arranged the concert, approached him about having students play back up for the music icons.
“I was approached by Creative Eventz because they had heard good things about ACU, our students and the program, which is terrific that we have that reputation in our community,” Ward said.
Kellogg, a senior music major from Decatur, said playing with The Temptations connected her with her high school teacher’s past and her present.
“My saxophone teacher in high school actually sang with The Temptations in ’69, so when I told him that I was playing this gig, he said it was like bringing his career full circle,” Kellogg said.
Kellogg also said working with The Temptations’ touring band was an amazing and hospitable experience.
“It was so cool to be in a fast-paced rehearsal environment with professionals who were so talented and knew exactly what they were talking about,” Kellogg said. “They were all so nice and when we got there, their music director already knew our names.”
When Driggers, a sophomore music education major from Sachse, found out he’d be playing with The Temptations, he brushed up on the history of the group.
“I wasn’t sure who they were, but once I listened to some of their songs, I was like, ‘Oh, this is that group?’ Diggers said. “So the songs were familiar; I just hadn’t remembered the band name.”
The group of students rehearsed a few times before the day of the actual concert and only rehearsed with The Temptations’ rhythm section the day of the event, something Driggers said was an interesting adjustment.
“We didn’t have drums, bass, guitar or piano, since all those people tour with The Temptations,” Driggers said. “Once we finally got to rehearse with them a couple hours before the concert, everything fell into place, and it sounded great.”
Ward said he is proud of not only the students that performed in the concert but all who participate in the music program.
“The way they contribute to ACU and the community at large is remarkable,” he said. “I feel so lucky and blessed to get to work with them.”