“Bow Wow Wow, Yippee Yow Yippee Yay.” “Tear The Roof Off [The Sucker].” “Old Man River.” “Some Enchanted Evening…” The songs will play on, but the rumbling, rich, and resonating bass voice of Ray Davis will be heard no more. Raymond Davis, aka Stingray, legendary lead singer of Parliament-Funkadelics, ZAPP, later replacing Melvin Franklin in The Temptations, and going on to become a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee passed away on Tuesday, July 5, 2005 around 9:00 PM in a Franklin Park, New Jersey hospital after a valiant battle with cancer.
May, 2005 in Youngstown, OH is where Ray did his last television interview as a member and lead singer with Glenn Leonard and the Temptations Experience on “The Valley Gold Show with Deborah Benton.” Upon being introduced on the show, in merely speaking, Davis wowed the studio audience with his sultry deep voice. Deborah Benton spoke fondly of his warm and gracious personality. After the taping of The Valley Gold Show, a dinner was held at a local [Youngstown] residence in honor of the Temptations Experience. Deborah recalls, “A group of us gathered around Ray and asked him to sing. He sat on the sofa and serenaded each of us, one at a time. He was a genuinely warm and adorable man.”
Group leader, Glenn Leonard of the Temptations Experience considered Ray and himself to be ‘joined at the hip.’ As professional artists and colleagues, Glenn referred to Ray and himself as ‘the Bookends;’ referring to Glenn’s high tenor and Ray’s deep bass - creating the frame for all the other vocal parts.’ (This was actually a concept Glenn learned from his mentor and friend, bass singer, [the late] Melvin Franklin, during Glenn’s ten year stint with the original Temptations. Glenn later adopted this concept for his own group, the Temptations Experience in an effort to maintain that vintage sound that the world had come to recognize and love in the music produced by the members of The Temptations.) Glenn Leonard and Ray Davis also shared an endearing friendship that went beyond the bonds of professional legendary singers. Glenn often spoke very openly of his love and respect for Ray as a person and a friend. Upon Ray’s joining the Temptations Experience, Glenn described Ray as ‘extremely gifted, yet possessing a lot of class and humility.’ “Ray Davis is the Total Package and a very rare human being who will always be with me.” Glenn proclaimed. Clearly Glenn’s and Ray’s feelings were mutual. During the recent, and what would be his last television interview (on The Valley Gold Show,) Ray spoke of how being with Glenn gave him rewards far more meaningful than the financial benefits he received. He said, “Glenn pays me with respect.”
Cornelius Grant, former Musical Director of the original Temptations describes Ray as, “A Gentle soul.” In that same vein, Kareem Ali, a current lead singer with Glenn Leonard and the Temptations Experience expressed his grief in saying, “This has just knocked the wind out of everyone’s sail.” Kareem spoke of his loss for the caring person Ray was: During a recent concert tour with the Temptations Experience, Kareem’s cell phone broke – again. Disgruntled with his carrier and the lack of service he was receiving, Kareem told Ray he was considering switching carriers. Ray went into the store of his own provider, simply added Kareem to his own account, and then handed Kareem a brand new phone. On another occasion, while shopping at a fruit market, Ray noticed that a young lady didn’t have enough money to pay for the items she selected. Classic Ray inquired as to the amount needed and paid for it with a smile. “That’s just the kind of caring guy he is, “Kareem explained, not yet ready to refer to his beloved friend in the past tense. On yet another occasion while the Temptations Experience was on tour, lead singer Winfred Black (Freddie) was experiencing a ‘wardrobe shortage’ of which he failed to bring enough suits for the social part of the tour. Without hesitation, Ray offered Freddie one of his own very expensive suits. Later, Freddie playfully told Ray “Man, this suit was cut to fit me.” And Ray responded, “It’s yours, you can have it.” “That’s Ray; that’s how giving he is,” stated Kareem.
It now seems very apparent to all who knew Ray Davis, that he held an ever-loosening grip on material and temporal things, in favor of those things that are far more precious and enduring. The love he shared and good memories he created will be cherished and held tightly by those he touched for the rest of their lives. The world should salute the man, Ray Davis, “Total Package.”
Photographs and B-roll are available for the Press through LinMar Strategies For Entertainment, Producer of “The Valley Gold Show with Deborah Benton.” Additionally, more photos of Ray Davis will be made available on the LinMar Strategies website. For more information, or for comments and interviews with any of the members of Glenn Leonard and the Temptations Experience contact:
LinMar Strategies For Entertainment