Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$150 Thousand
Jan 18, 1941 - Jun 1, 1991 (50 years old)
Whynot, Mississippi
Singer, Musician
United States of America
💰 Compare David Ruffin's Net Worth

What Is David Ruffin's Net Worth?

David Ruffin was an American soul singer and musician who had a net worth of $150 thousand at the time of his death. Ruffin was best known for being part of the musical group the Temptations during their "Classic Five" period. David also released 10 solo albums, an album with his brother Jimmy called "I Am My Brother's Keeper" (1970), and the album "Ruffin & Kendrick" (1988) with Eddie Kendrick, and he was featured on the 1985 Hall & Oates album "Live at the Apollo."

His debut solo album, 1969's "My Whole World Ended," reached #1 on the "Billboard" R&B Albums chart and #31 on the "Billboard" 200 chart. Ruffin served as lead vocalist for the Temptations singles "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "My Girl." He was known for his raspy tenor vocals, and "Rolling Stone" magazine ranked him #65 on its "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" list in 2008. David was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with the Temptations in 1989. Ruffin passed away on June 1, 1991 at 50 years old.

Early Life

David Ruffin was born Davis Eli Ruffin on January 18, 1941, in Whynot, Mississippi. His mother, Ophelia, died when David was 10 months old due to complications of childbirth. His father, Eli (a truck driver), married a schoolteacher named Earline in 1942. Ruffin grew up with siblings Quincy, Jimmy Lee, and Reada Mae, and his sister Rosine died as an infant. Eli was abusive and strict, and during his youth, David and his siblings traveled with Eli and Earline as a gospel group. The group opened for acts such as The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi and Mahalia Jackson. Ruffin sang at church and in talent shows, and at age 14, he left Mississippi for Memphis, Tennessee, with minister Eddie Bush, intending to pursue a life in the ministry.

When David was 15, he traveled to Hot Springs, Arkansas, with jazz musician Phineas Newborn, Sr., and they performed at the Fifty Grand Ballroom and Casino. Under the name Little David Bush, Ruffin performed at talent shows and joined the group The Dixie Nightingales. He briefly performed with The Soul Stirrers after Johnnie Taylor left the group. At age 16, David moved to Detroit, Michigan, with Bush and his wife.


After moving to Detroit, Ruffin met Berry Gordy Jr., and he lived with Gordy's father and helped "Pops" do construction on the future Hitsville USA building, which would house Berry's Tamla Records. David released the single "Believe Me"/"You and I" in 1958 and "I'm In Love"/"One of These Days" (with the doo-wop group the Voice Masters) in 1960. His brother Jimmy took part in a Motortown Revue tour with the Temptations, who were looking for a new member to sing tenor, and David joined the group in January 1964. He originally sang background vocals, but after Smokey Robinson (who co-wrote and produced the band's material) decided to write the "perfect song" to showcase Ruffin's voice, "My Girl," David took on lead singer duties. Ruffin performed lead vocals on hits such as "Since I Lost My Baby," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "All I Need," and I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)," but by 1967, he had become addicted to cocaine and would miss performances and rehearsals. He eventually demanded that the band change its name to David Ruffin & the Temptations, and he was kicked out of the group in June 1968 after he missed a concert in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1969, Ruffin released the solo single "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)," which reached #8 on the "Billboard" Hot 100 chart and #2 on the Hot R&B Singles chart. His debut solo album, "My Whole World Ended," was released in May of that year, and he followed it with "Feelin' Good" six months later. His third solo album, "David," was recorded in the early '70s, but it wasn't released until 2004. In 1973, Ruffin released a self-titled album, followed by "Me 'N Rock 'N Roll Are Here To Stay" in 1974. The 1975 album "Who I Am" reached #5 on the R&B Albums chart and featured the top 10 single "Walk Away from Love." After the success of "Who I Am," David released the albums "Everything's Coming Up Love" (1976), "In My Stride" (1977), "So Soon We Change" (1979), and "Gentleman Ruffin" (1980). In 1982, he recorded the album "Reunion" with the Temptations and briefly went on tour with the group until he was fired for missing performances due to his drug use. In 1985, Ruffin and his former Temptations bandmate Eddie Kendrick performed with Hall & Oates at the re-opening of New York's Apollo Theater, and they sang a medley of Temptations songs with the duo at Live Aid. A live medley of "My Girl" and "The Way You Do the Things You Do" was released as a single, and it earned a Grammy nomination. In 1991, David embarked on a tour of England with Kendrick and another former Temptations bandmate, Dennis Edwards, and the trio was planning a European tour at the time of Ruffin's death.

Personal Life

David married Sandra Barnes in 1961, and they welcomed daughters Nedra, Cheryl, and Kimberly before divorcing. In 1964, he began dating Genna Sapia, and he had a son, David, with her. Sapia-Ruffin published the 2003 book "A Memoir: David Ruffin–My Temptation," in which she wrote about David's abusive behavior and infidelity. Ruffin began a tumultuous relationship with singer Tammi Terrell in 1966, and Tammi ended things in 1967 when David hit her in the head with a motorcycle helmet. Ruffin married Joy Hamilton in 1976, and at the time of his death in 1991, he was in a relationship with Diane Showers, who he had been living with since 1989.

David struggled with drug addiction throughout his life and first sought treatment in 1967. In 1978, he was charged with disorderly conduct after being arrested at a Memphis birthday party. He allegedly threatened the police officers while being taken to jail. In 1982, Ruffin was sentenced to six months in an Indiana low-security prison and ordered to pay $5,000 for failure to pay more than $310,000 in taxes from 1975 to 1977. He only served four months of his sentence due to good behavior. In 1987, David was arrested during a raid at a Detroit house party and spent one night in jail. Though he was charged with cocaine possession with intent to distribute, he was only convicted of using cocaine. Ruffin received a sentence of two years' probation as well as 50 days of community service. After violating his probation several times, he was ordered to seek treatment at a drug rehabilitation center, and he completed a 28-day program at New York's Areba Casriel Institute.


Ruffin died of an accidental crack cocaine overdose on June 1, 1991, at the age of 50. He reportedly collapsed at a crack house in West Philadelphia, and was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania by his friend Donald Brown. David was pronounced dead at 3:55 a.m. due to "an adverse reaction to drugs (cocaine)." His funeral took place at Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church, and the surviving members of the Temptations performed "My Girl" at the service. Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder performed as well, and Michael Jackson offered to pay for the funeral. Ruffin was buried at Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery.

Awards and Honors

In 1985, David was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for "The Way You Do The Things You Do/My Girl." In 2013, the Temptations were honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and Ruffin's children accepted the award on his behalf. In 2013, David was posthumously inducted into Cleveland State University's Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame, both as a member of the Temptations and as a solo artist. He was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame as well. In 2019, the section of Parkside (where Ruffin used to live) in Detroit between Seven Mile and McNichols was renamed "David Ruffin Avenue," and Meridian, Mississippi, renamed a section of 8th Street "David Ruffin Boulevard." He also received a star on Mississippi's Arts + Entertainment Experience's Walk of Fame.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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