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Four Tops frontman Levi Stubbs dead at 72

October 17th, 2008 Posted in Hot Search Trends

By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER
Four Tops frontman Levi Stubbs, whose dynamic and emotive voice drove such Motown Classics as “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” and “Baby I Need Your Loving,” died Friday at 72.

He had been ill recently and died in his sleep at the Detroit house he shared with his wife of 48 years, said Dana Meah, the wife of a grandson. The Wayne County medical examiner’s office also confirmed the death.

With Stubbs in the lead, the Four Tops sold millions of records and performed for more than four decades without a change in personnel.

“Levi Stubbs was one of the great voices of all times,” former Motown labelmate Smokey Robinson said. “He was very near and dear to my heart. He was my friend and my brother, I miss him. God bless his family and comfort them.”

The Four Tops began singing together in 1953 under the name the Four Aims and signed a deal with Chess Records. They later changed their names to the Four Tops to avoid being confused with the Ames Brothers.

They also recorded for Red Top, Riverside and Columbia Records and toured supper clubs.

The Four Tops signed with Motown Records in 1963 and produced 20 Top-40 hits over the next 10 years, making music history with the other acts in Berry Gordy’s Motown stable.

Their biggest hits were recorded between 1964 and 1967 with the in-house songwriting and production team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland. Both 1965’s “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” and 1966’s “Reach Out” went to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart.

Other hits included “Shake Me, Wake Me” (1966), “Bernadette” and “Standing in the Shadows of Love” (both 1967).

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