The first time I met Dennis Edwards, I thought he stood nine feet tall.

Edwards, who died of meningitis in a Chicago hospital on Friday, a day short of his 75th birthday, strode into the Los Angeles offices of SOUL Magazine that day to give his first interview after leaving the Temptations.

Since replacing David Ruffin in 1968, Edwards had led the group through a period of ground-breaking creativity and commercial success that produced such iconic hits as “Cloud Nine,” “I Can’t Get Next To You,” “Psychedelic Shack,” “Ball of Confusion” and “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.” By ’77 the group was in a period of commercial decline, and Edwards was in a mood to dish dirt on the way out the door.

You have to understand that when I was a kid, t were three men I wanted to be: Little Joe Cartwright, Joe Mannix and Dennis Edwards.

Neither the TV cowboy nor the TV detective ever sang like Edwards did.

“Three years later, with the group’s sales now flatlining and Edwards’ solo career stillborn, he returned to the group and delivered what is arguably his greatest single performance. It was”Power,” a hard-charging song about political demagoguery built around a hypnotic repetition of the hook by Franklin, the great bass singer.

“Power” wasn’t a hit – Williams says DJs feared to play it because it came in the wake of the McDuffie riots in Miami – but it is worth hearing for the way Edwards absolutely crushes the song.

On “Power,” Edwards did some serious sangin’.

We wanted to sing like they did, wanted to float along with Eddie’s creamy falsetto, dig in the soil with Melvin’s coal-mine bass or blow things up with Dennis’ explosive tenor.