Legendary Temptations member Damon Harris, whose falsetto voice was on the 1972 chart-topper “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” is reportedly gravely ill with prostate cancer, according to The Sentinel.
Harris, whose battle with the disease began in 1999 when he was 47 years old after unknowingly having it for five years, now spends most of his days going through chemotherapy, which he receives at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The man whom Michael Jackson nicknamed “The Voice” admits that his time on earth is limited and revealed to The Sentinel, “Look, cancer is what it is. I know my time is now very short, and I’m just thankful to have God and to be able to somehow have the care that I have,” said the now-62-year-old performer.
Harris, who was a die-hard Temptations fan, was 20 years old when he joined the iconic singing group back in 1971. With a falsetto voice that was a spot-on match for Eddie Kendricks, who had left the group earlier, a friend convinced Harris to audition for the group members who were a decade or so older than him. Harris’ actual first name is Otis, but he was forced to change it when he was hired as a Temptation because the group already had an Otis, leader Otis Williams.
Harris performed as a Temptation for four years and his Kendricks-esque voice could be heard on such memorable hits such as “Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are),” “Love Woke Me Up This Morning” and “Masterpiece.” Harris was released from the Temptations, when he made some comments about the popular group.
Afterward, Harris, formed another singing group, Impact, and they recorded a few soul and disco hits. Impact eventually disbanded, and then Harris went solo, having limited success. He eventually decided to attend college in the ’90s, but then tried going solo again touring as ‘The Temptations Review starring Damon Harris.’ He was, on occasion, joined by another ex-Temptation member, Richard Street.
With regards to his battle with prostate cancer, Harris says that it has depleted him of any savings and that the Grammy Foundation has helped to pay the rent on his modest Baltimore condo. He claims to have not mismanaged his money but contends that the costs involved in battling cancer are exorbitant. Unfortunately, these days Harris lives day-to-day not knowing if he can pay his monthly obligations. “I live a very simple life, but I’m sick and there isn’t much I can do. I’ve been offered gigs, some I haven’t been able to do because, since October, I haven’t been able to walk much,” he said.
As far as reaching out to famous friends for financial assistance like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, or Berry Gordy, he has chosen not to do so. He tells The Sentinel, “I’m realistic. You can say you hope to see me here in five years, but I’m telling you I don’t expect that. I’m preparing as best as I can.”
As a matter of fact, a band mate recently announced that Harris had passed away, with Harris, whose father also passed away from the dreaded disease, responding, “I’m still here. Cancer has been trying to shut my system down and the doctors here have been trying to put it off as best they can.”
Smokey Robinson recently appeared at a venue that was very near to Harris’ home; yet, the mega-entertainer had no idea that the man he once socialized and worked with is on his death-bed. “Listen, that life is over. I love Smokey and I know he feels the same about me, but that would have been too much to ask to have him come over,” said the now gray-haired Harris. ”I’ve giving up that pop star life now. That isn’t a thought for me anymore. Things have changed so much,” Harris said.
Harris’ friends and booking company has set up a fund-raiser to help the entertainer pay for his expenses. If you’d like to contribute, you can send your donation to:
RTJP Company, LTD., c/o the Damon Harris Fund, 717 Market St., Box 411, Lemoyne, PA 17043