Edward James Kendrick was born in Union Springs, Alabama on December 17, 1939,
the son of Johnny and Lee Bell Kendrick. He had one sister, Patricia, and three brothers, Charles, Robert, and Clarence.
His family moved to Birmingham. where he met and began singing
with his best friend Paul Williams in their church choir in the late 1940s.
 In 1955, Kendricks, Williams, and friends Kell Osborne and Jerome Averette formed a doo-wop group called The Cavaliers
, and began performing around Birmingham. The group decided to move for better opportunities
 in their musical careers, and in 1957 the group moved to Cleveland Ohio.
 In Cleveland, they met manager Milton Jenkins, and soon moved with Jenkins to Detroit Michigan,
 where the Cavaliers renamed themselves 'The Primes'. Under Jenkins' management, the Primes did well for themselves in the Detroit area,
 eventually creating a female spin-off group called The Primettes later The Supremes .
In 1961, Osbourne moved to California  and the Primes disbanded. Kendricks and Paul Williams
 joined forces with members Otis Williams and Melvin "Blue" Franklin of Otis Wiliiams and the Distants
 after three members quit and became The Elgins, who on the same day changed their name to "The Temptations" and signed to Motown.