It was 49 years ago today (October 14th, 1972) the Temptations released “Papa Was A Rollin' Stone.” The song was written by Motown staff writers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong — who were best known for writing the chart toppers “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” for Marvin Gaye and “War” for Edwin Starr. Prior to “Papa Was A Rollin' Stone,” the pair had also written the Temps' last two Number One hits, “I Can't Get Next To You” and “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me).”
“Papa Was A Rollin' Stone” was originally recorded by a fellow Motown act called the Undisputed Truth, who were best known for their 1971 hit “Smiling Faces Sometimes.” Back then it was standard practice for Motown groups to all record the same material in hopes of one of them charting. It was the Temptations' version that hit, going all the way to Number One on December 2nd, 1972 and becoming their fourth and last Number One.
In a strange twist of fate lead singer Dennis Edwards' father also died on “the third day of September,” just like in the song.