The Dixie Nightingales

One of the most successful Southern gospel groups of the late '50s and early '60s, the Dixie Nightingales served as a training ground for future Temptations vocalist David Ruffin (1941-1991). The group, which featured the lead vocals of Ollie Hoskins, was heard every Saturday morning on Memphis radio station WDIA. As they were reaching the peak of their popularity, the Dixie Nightingales experienced a drastic change in 1962. Signing with the Stax label, they shifted their focus to R&B and re-christened themselves Ollie & the Nightingales. They disbanded shortly afterwards. Although he maintained a low profile for more than four decades, Hoskins mounted a serious comeback in the mid-'90s. Signing with Ecko in 1995, he released three impressive singles -- "I'll Drink Your Water, Baby," "Tell Me What You Want Me to Do," and "Make It Sweet" -- before succumbing to a heart attack resulting from complications of pneumonia, in October 1997. The son of a minister, Ruffin had toured with Mahalia Jackson at the age of six. After leaving the Dixie Nightingales, he went on to be a founding member of the Temptations, singing lead on such classics as "My Girl" and "I Wish It Would Rain." He had a Top Ten solo hit with "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)" in 1969. He died from a drug overdose in 1991. ~ Craig Harris

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