Baltimore native Otis "Damon" Harris, a one-time member of the legendary Motown act The Temptations, died on Monday after losing a 14-year-long battle to prostate cancer, according to family spokesman Chuck Woodson. Harris was 62.
Harris, a resident of Owings Mills, died at the Joseph Richey Hospice in Seton Hill. Woodson said he was in remission until three years ago. The cancer had "gotten pretty bad" by the end of last summer, Woodson said, leaving Harris in the hospital from November until last week, when he was transferred to the hospice.
In 1971, Harris auditioned for The Temptations at the age of 21, more than a decade younger than the other members. He was brought into the group under one condition: He had to change his first name because the group already had an Otis — founding member Otis Williams.
Harris went on to win three Grammy Awards with The Temptations. As a member, the group also recorded nine gold records. Harris left The Temptations in 1975.
Woodson said Harris, who had lived in Reno and Philadelphia, always planned to return to his hometown.
"Baltimore is his home, and he always championed being a Baltimorean," Woodson said.
Naturally, Harris was a Ravens fan. Midway through this past season, Harris told Woodson the Ravens would win the Super Bowl. Woodson laughed it off. After the Ravens defeated the 49ers in the Super Bowl, Harris reminded Woodson of his prediction.
"He rubbed it in on me, too," Woodson said with a laugh. "No sooner than the game was over — 'What did I tell you?'"
After his original diagnosis, Harris became an advocate for men getting regular prostate exams. He was also active with the organization Stand Up to Cancer. Woodson said Harris became vocal about cancer awareness because he had waited too long to get checked by a doctor.
"He didn't want anyone to suffer the consequences that he suffered for not doing that," Woodson said.