Detroit— Ralph Pruitt, the last original member of the Detroit R&B group The Fantastic Four, died Tuesday at Sinai Grace Hospital. According to his ex-wife, Nedra Denny, the singer was 74 and died of natural causes.
Pruitt, a Detroit native, and the Fantastic Four — named after the Marvel Comics heroes —recorded for Ric-Tic, Westbound, Epic and Motown Records.
The group was best known for their 1967 hit “The Whole World is a Stage” on Ric Tic Records, a label Berry Gordy coveted and then bought. That song got heavy airplay on Detroit’s R&B stations, reaching No. 6 on Billboard’s R&B charts, but got a lot of crossover play on Detroit/Windsor’s CKLW.
After Motown acquired Ric-Tic, the Fantastic Four had another R&B hit, “I Love You Madly.”
Later the group recorded for Westbound, notably “Alvin Stone (The Birth and Death of a Gangster)” and “I Got to Have Your Love,” and “Bring Your Own Funk,” produced by Dennis Coffey.
Pruitt left the group for a time, but then revived it as “The New Fantastic Four,” making an appearance with them in 2013.
The singer only married once, to Denny. He is survived by four daughters and one son, and 14 grandchildren. Services will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses at 2095 W. Davison in Detroit.