*In the beginning, Motown’s mighty Temptations sounded like they came straight out of the church, and they did. But of all their line-up of singers, Ali “Ollie” Woodson took them back … literally.
He died on May 30th, and while offering words of comfort at Woodson’s funeral, Bishop Noel Jones declared of his friend:
“We are not burying him from a house, or from a club…we are burying him [this man of God] from the church!” And the church shouted “Amen!”
Lauded as one of the greatest singers of all time, at age 58, Woodson was laid to rest on Saturday, June 5th with a celebration of life fit for a king. He is best known for the song he wrote and recorded as lead vocal on the Temptations’ hit, “Treat Her Like A Lady.” Ron Brewington of the Motown Alumni Association, and also a member of the City of Refuge church in Los Angeles where Bishop Jones is pastor said, “On any given Sunday Ali would be up on that stage leading the choir.”
See photos from the services HERE.
Throughout the funeral service there were reflections of an influential man who lived out his role as a world-class entertainer, but remained firmly grounded in the church. The massive church choir set the tone. Aretha Franklin could not be in attendance, but sent a video tribute singing “I’ll Fly Away” in her own inimitable style with heart-wrenching echoes of her voice in the background that elevated the spirit in the church as only she could do. Followed by singer Howard Hewitt who sang a moving version of his classic “Amen”; the audience was moved to its feet!
Various comments and proclamations from dignitaries including Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Earvin “Magic” Johnson revealed Woodson’s integrity and willingness to lend his talent to any cause big or small. Tearful comments from his daughter Aliah Woodson, and the daughter of another great singer Barry White, showed just how well-rounded and balanced Woodson remained throughout his professional career.
The service was attended by celebrities from all walks of the entertainment industry, including the Detroit/Motown connection (Woodson was born in Detroit): Claudette Robinson, Janie Bradford, Iris Gordy, Ron Tyson, Cornelius Grant, Brenda Holloway, and sisters Scherrie and Freda Payne. Former members of the Temptations Richard Street and Louis Price were on hand along with the sons of two original members; David Ruffin Jr. and Paul Williams Jr. Other members of the Temptations could not attend due to prior tour commitments.
Larry Buford is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, CA. For more info visit: www.EditorialByLarry.com
Motown Alumni Association (MAA)