Many of the Motown music label elite partied with “Super Fly Era” Detroit drug kingpins Eddie (The Fat Man) Jackson and Courtney (The Field Marshal) Brown. Per sources and archival law enforcement files, one of those revered R&B vocalists to show his face at social gatherings arranged and supplied with narcotics by Jackson and Brown was Temptations lead singer Dennis Edwards, who died in Chicago at 74 last week due to complications related to meningitis.

Once engaged to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, Edwards battled drug addiction in the 1970s and 1980s causing him to leave the legendary group, which snagged the storied Motown label its first Grammy win for the 1968 hit single Cloud Nine, the first recording with Edwards at the helm singing lead. Edwards replaced the group’s original lead singer David Ruffin, coming over from another Motown act called the Contours.

Both Ruffin and Edwards dealt with drug problems in their lives and careers and were known to party with local drug world figures, like Jackson and Brown, according to Michigan State Police records from the time period. Ruffin overdosed on cocaine in 1991, just weeks after finishing a tour of Europe with Edwards as solo acts.

“All of Motown got their drugs from Eddie and Courtney back then, they were the label’s Dr. Feelgoods…,” recalled one of Jackson’s former associates. “Everybody in that world knew Eddie had the hook up and threw the best drug parties. He’d give the shit away to a lot of those guys. They’d come for the free drugs. It was a big throw down whenever the Motown acts were performing around town, Eddie would make sure it was live at the after party. We’d see David, Dennis and Eddie Kendricks (another popular Temp) all the time and after a while it was no big deal. They were like everyone else. They loved the powder and they knew where they would find the best stuff.”

Eddie Jackson and Courtney Brown were partners in the dope game and ran the most successful narcotics empire in the Detroit area in the 1970s. They were known to be relatively non-violent and renowned for their ability to keep the peace on the streets unlike their successors and predecessors at the forefront of the drug trade in the Motor City. MSP documents describe both elegantly planned and impromptu get-togethers hosted by Jackson and Brown and involving professional entertainers such as many of the musicians at Motown and comedians Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor as well as plenty of cocaine.

Eddie Jackson (L) & Courtney Brown (R)

By the end of the decade, Motown was on the downside of its reign atop the charts and Jackson and Brown were behind bars for trafficking powder. Jackson enjoyed his own product and his all-day coke binges were fictionalized in a number of Detroit urban pulp novelist Donald Goines’ books. Goines and his wife were killed in 1974 in a brutal crime that remains unsolved.

As Edwards descended deeper into his addiction, he left Franklin for Ruth Pointer of the female singing group, Pointer Sisters. Franklin has told reporters Edwards was the inspiration for her 1972 song Day Dreaming. According to media reports in 1979, Edwards and Pointer were freebasing cocaine daily, causing him to briefly leave the Temptations. He left for good in 1984 before touring with a Temptations revue void of any original members in the 1990s.

Imprisoned for a second time in the mid-1980s, Eddie Jackson, known throughout the underworld nationwide as a “gentleman gangster,” passed away on the inside in 1996. Brown, 75, is a free man today, living in retirement in Southeast Michigan.

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