Paul E. Williams was born in 1939 in Birmingham, Alabama, and was a member of the soul music group the Temptations. He was married to Mary Agnes, had six children and died in 1973 in Detroit, Michigan, from a gunshot wound.
Williams' first musical group, the Primes, included members Williams, Kell Osbourne and Eddie Kendricks. Otis Williams, Elbridge Bryant and Melvin Franklin merged with the Primes in Motown to form the Elgins in 1961. The Eglins became known as the Temptations. Williams was one of the three lead singers of the Temptations. He is considered to be the architect of the group's style, sophisticated image and dance choreography. In 1963, Williams was violently attacked by band member Bryant, and Bryant left the Temptations at this time. In 1971, Williams left the group due to poor health. Richard Street had been singing Williams' parts from behind the curtain. Williams suffered from sickle-cell anemia and alcoholism. He remained involved with the Temptations for the next two years but was found dead in his car with a gunshot wound to the head in Detroit near the Motown headquarters. Williams' death was ruled a suicide, but speculation exists. Nearly 3,000 fans, family members and friends paid their respects to Williams at Tried Stone Baptist Church in Detroit.