David Ruffin's funeral occurred on June 10, 1991, at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. Celebrities such as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, writer-director Robert Townsend and Mary Wilson attended the ceremony, while over 2,000 spectators filled the streets surrounding the church. Michael Jackson offered to foot the bill for the services, which totalled $7,000, and music notables such as Berry Gordy, Jr., Daryl Hall and John Oates, Rod Stewart and Diana Ross sent cards and flowers.
Ruffin suffered a fatal overdose on June 1, 1991, while binging on crack cocaine in a West Philadelphia drug den; he was 50 years old. At Ruffin's burial at Woodlawn Cemetery, New Bethel Church pastor, Rev. Robert Smith, Jr., spoke against the scourge of drug addiction. Rev. Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, also spoke, echoing Smith's sentiments.
Ruffin, a member of 1960s chart-toppers The Temptations, had just recorded a single for Motorcity Records, "Hurt the One You Love," and wrapped up a well-received series of performances in Las Vegas and a month-long stint in England. A return to Europe was slated for month's end, followed by a set of shows in Japan, according to Ruffin's manager, who was also hammering out a book deal and fine-tuning the terms of a new record contract at the time of the tragedy.