Paul Simon used to sing that he was "Still Crazy After All These years."
Otis Williams is still singing after 50 years and loving every minute of it.
Williams is a founder and original member of The Temptations ... and "Get Ready," the group's coming to the Bosque Event Center at Santa Ana Star Casino on Saturday. The music - and the fun - starts at 7:30 p.m.
Nearly five decades have passed since The Temptations were a favorite in Detroit, or Motown. Kids growing up there in the 1960s were always hearing tunes by the Temps, The Supremes, the Four Tops, Little Stevie Wonder, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles ... until the "British Invasion," led by The Beatles, began to dominate the airwaves in the U.S.
So it may be hard to believe for The Temptations today, "The crowds are bigger, the sales are sizzling," which one industry report states. "The outpouring of affection for this super group has never been greater."
Their 49th album - no longer vinyl, of course, but a CD - was recently released. Although you might not be familiar with what they've done lately, Williams says when the quintet steps out on stage, "We come out with ‘Hello, Young Lovers,' do five-part harmony into ‘Gas House', (from ‘A Song for You' CD), then ‘I'm Gonna Make You Love M,' a song we did with the Supremes - and into our hits."
That means a lot of sing-along songs, namely the ones you fondly remember while listening to an oldies station. They're called the crowd pleasers, he says, "Naturally, ‘My Girl' and ‘Ain't Too Proud to Beg,' and the choreography of ‘Treat Her Like a Lady.'"
Williams likes it that way.
"We've played New Mexico many times before," he said. "It's been a while. We were received real well - and long overdue for coming back."
Putting it into perspective, Williams said he has a lot of favorite places to perform. "We've been so many places I enjoy - New York City, California, London, Paris, New Zealand, Australia, Amsterdam."
Even though he's 70 but feels like he's still 39, Williams admitted traveling gets to be a grind.
"(But) when I stop and think about people losing their jobs, I can't complain because I still love what I love to do," he explained. "What we do is escapism for our many fans with their probes and what have you - they come out to be entertained. We're in a very unique position."
When he has some "Otis time," he said, "I go in my living room and watch movies; I sketch; go to the gym and work out. I'm a shopaholic," he said. "I like to keep a low profile and enjoy."
Back in 1964, the Smokey Robinson written-and-produced "The Way You Do the Things You Do" turned Williams and his soulful buddies into stars. The classic lineup was Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin. They soon became known for smooth stepping and flawless presentations.
When the sixties and seventies turned political, the Temps got serious. They changed their tone, dress and music. Temptations hits, many featuring Dennis Edwards, who had replaced David Ruffin, burned with intensity: "Runaway Child," "Cloud Nine," "I Can't Get Next to You," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Psychedelic Shack."
Williams said they really didn't want to do "Papa was a Rolling Stone," which he said, "is not just another No. 1 song. The guy who wrote the lyrics to it killed himself because of pain and heartache -- his wife was cheating on him." At the time, the group wanted to get away from the psychedelic sounds of the times and get back into ballads, but "Papa" won them two Grammys.
In the 1980s, the Temps prevailed with smashes like "Treat Her Like a Lady." In 1989, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and featured in the 1990s in an NBC mini-series that chronicled the group's history, written by Williams and titled, appropriately enough, "Temptations."
And the albums (er, CDs), kept coming: "For Lovers Only," a collection of love standards, termed an instant classic by critics; "Phoenix Rising" went through the roof; "Ear Resistible" nailed a Grammy and a legion of new fans; "Awesome," released in 2001, is The Temps at their freshest, strongest, and most appealing; "Reflections," released in 2005 was nominated for a Grammy; and, recently, "Still Here," became their 49th album.
The current lineup consists of Williams, Ron Tyson (who joined in 1983), Terry Weeks (1997), Joe Herndon (2003) and lead singer Bruce Williamson (2007).
Despite the proliferation of hip-hop and what passes for popular music in the 21st century, "Great singing," says Williams, "will always prevail.
"Wow, has the FCC dropped its guard? For the longest time, we couldn't even say the word ‘damn.' Now they beep; kids know what that beep is," he said.
Before the concert Saturday evening, do this: Google "Temptations" and enjoy a blast from the past, surfing around, catching their tunes and videos available on the ‘net.
Check out the way they do the things they do.