Melvin Franklin, whose real name was David Melvin English, was born on Oct. 12, 1942, in Montgomery, Alabama. His mother, Rose English, was a teenager at the time of his birth, and his father was the preacher of the family's church. In 1952, when David was 10 years old, his mother married and moved the family to Detroit, where David changed his name to Melvin Franklin and began singing in a number of local groups with another singer, Otis Williams.
One of Melvin and Otis's groups, The Primes, captured the attention of Motown Records manager Berry Gordy in 1960. The group signed to Miracle records, a subsidiary of Motown, under the new group name the Temptations. Throughout the long decades of the Temptations' career, Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams were the only two members who never left the group. Melvin's deep voice became a trademark of the group's sound, and he became one of the most successful bass vocalists of soul music.
In the late 1960s, Melvin developed arthritis and began using cortisol to suppress the pain in order to continue performing. The overuse of cortisol led to widespread health problems, including diabetes. He died in Los Angeles on Feb. 23, 1995.