Levi Stubbles was born in Detroit 78 years ago today. As Levi Stubbs for more than 40 years he was the lead vocalist of The Four Tops.
The Four Tops were one of soul music’s most popular and long-lived vocal groups. This quartet from Detroit endured for more than 40 years without a single change in personnel. …
The Four Tops consisted of lead singer Levi Stubbs, first tenor Abdul “Duke” Fakir, second tenor Lawrence Payton, and baritone Renaldo “Obie” Benson. Working closely with the in-house songwriting and production team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, the Four Tops cut some of Motown’s most memorable singles during the label’s mid-Sixties zenith. The list of classics recorded by the Four Tops during this fruitful period includes “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “I Can’t Help Myself,” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love” and “Bernadette.” Between 1964 and 1988, the Four Tops made Billboard’s Hot 100 chart 45 times and its R&B chart 52 times. Twenty-four of their singles made the Top 40, and seven of those entered the Top 10.
While their career took off at Motown, the Four Tops had a significant prehistory before arriving at the label, having already logged nearly a decade in show business. Stubbs and Fakir attended Pershing High School in Detroit’s North End, while Payton and Benson attended Detroit’s Northern High School. The four young men met at a friend’s birthday party, where they first sang together. …
It’s Stubbs who sings:
Now if you feel that you can’t go on
Because all of your hope is gone
And your life is filled with much confusion
Until happiness is just an illusion
And your world around is tumbling down
Darling reach out
Reach on out for me
Reach out for me
You will note it was never Levi Stubbs and the Tops, unlike Smokey Robinson and the Miracles or Diana Ross and the Supremes. Stubbs had the opportunity to lead or go solo, but he stayed loyal to his friends for life. He died in 2008.