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"My Girl" is a 1964 song recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy (Motown) label which became a number one hit in 1965. Written and produced by The Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, the song became the Temptations' first U.S. number-one single, and is today their signature song. Robinson's inspiration for writing this song was his wife, Miracles member Claudette Rogers Robinson. The song was featured on the Temptations album The Temptations Sing Smokey.
Musically, the song is notable because the six ascending guitar notes in the opening riff over the C chord are a perfect example of a C major pentatonic scale, played exactly from octave to octave. Similarly, the analogous riff in the song that is played over the F chord is a perfect example of an F major pentatonic scale, also with notes ascending from octave to octave.
Recording and releaseEdit
The recorded version of "My Girl" was the first Temptations single to feature David Ruffin on lead vocals. Previously, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams had performed most of the group's lead vocals, and Ruffin had joined the group as a replacement for former Temptation Elbridge "Al" Bryant. While on tour as part of the Motortown Revue, a collective tour for most of the Motown roster, Smokey Robinson caught the Temptations' part of the show. The group had included a medley of soul standards in the show, one of which, The Drifters' "Under the Boardwalk", was a solo spot for Ruffin. Impressed, Robinson decided to produce a single with Ruffin singing lead. Robinson saw Ruffin as a "sleeping giant" in the group with a unique voice that was "mellow" yet "gruff".Robinson thought that if he could write just the perfect song for Ruffin's voice, then he could have a smash hit. The song was to be something that Ruffin could "belt out" yet something that was also "melodic and sweet".After some persuasion from Ruffin's bandmates, Robinson had the Temptations record "My Girl" instead of The Miracles,who were originally to record the song, and recruited Ruffin to sing the lead vocals. According to Robinson, he allowed the group to create their own background vocals "because they were so great at background vocals". The signature guitar riff heard during the introduction and under the verses was played by Robert White of the Funk Brothers. This part can be heard without vocals on the 2004 Deluxe Edition of the soundtrack from the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown.
"My Girl" was later sampled for "Stay", a single from the Temptations' 1998 album Phoenix Rising.
"My Girl" climbed to the top of the U.S. pop charts after its Christmas time 1964 release, making it the Temptations' first number-one hit. The single was also the first number-one hit on the reinstated Billboard R&B Singles chart, which had gone on a fifteen-month hiatus from 1963 to 1965. The success of this single launched a series of Ruffin-led hits, including "It's Growing" (1965), "Since I Lost My Baby" (1965), "My Baby" (1965), "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (1966), "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" (1966), "(I Know) I'm Losing You" (1966), "All I Need" (1967), "(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need" (1967), "I Wish It Would Rain" (1967), and "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" (1968). The former background figure quickly became the group's main (and, excepting irregular leads by Kendricks and Williams, only) lead singer by the end of 1965. After many Ruffin-led hits, he started to develop a large ego. He was later fired from the group (see the Temptations main article for more details).