Four of the Distants became members of the world-renowned Temptations, the most popular male recording group ever. They began as Otis & the Siberians with a lineup of Otis Williams, Elbridge "Al" Bryant, James Crawford, Arthur Walton, and Vernard Plain. Detroit DJ Bill Williams discovered them singing at a hop and became their manager, and helped get them their first recording opportunity "Pecos Kid" b/w "All of My Life" for another DJ, Senator Bristol Bryant's label. Williams had little time and no managerial skills, and Bryant had no inclination to promote the record outside of Detroit; so they switched to Johnnie Mae Matthews' Northern Records.
Like most groups seeking fame and fortune, the Distants endured many personnel changes, Melvin Franklin nee David English replaced bass singer Arthur Walton. Franklin had recorded with the Voice Masters on "Need It." Then Plain left, which gave Franklin's cousin Richard Street, an opening; he stepped in as the groups' lead singer. And if that wasn't enough change, the Siberians became the Distants.
Their first Northern release fell in 1960, on another song that Otis worked up called "Come On" b/w "Always." Richard's lead is exciting, but the mix and recording quality are very subpar. The Andantes overpowered the Distants on the track, but despite the flaws, the record had a groove. It sold locally and Matthews worked a distribution deal with Warwick Records out of New York, and brought the Distants a car with their name on the doors. They just knew success was imminent, well, most of them anyway, James Crawford left, and Albert Harrell (aka Mooch), an ex-member of the Ricardos, replaced him. Northern issued a second single later in 1960, "Open Your Heart" b/w "Always," which Warwick picked up as well. While popular locally and in small Michigan towns, the Distants wanted a hit and the monies and fame that went along with chart success, something they felt they couldn't achieve with Matthews.
Berry Gordy, Jr. offered them a deal with Motown, but by this time Otis had booted Mooch, and Street quit; the Distants were a trio consisting of Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Al Bryant; fortunately, they merged with two of the Primes: Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams, and became the Elgins, then the Temptations. Richard Street assembled the Distants for one last shot on Thelma Records with "Answer Me" b/w "Save Me from This Misery." No more Distants recordings' surfaced after the Thelma release. Street recorded with the Peps, and the Monitors before replacing Paul Williams, in the Temptations, where he remained until the early '90s. ~ Andrew Hamilton~ Rovi