Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs dies

Friday, 17 October 2008 11:15 AM Written by 

Levi Stubbs, the voice of the Four Tops for more than 40 years, has died.

Stubbs led the Four Tops through their reign as one of Motown's top groups, a group that stayed intact for more than 40 years after they formed as the Four Aims in 1954. Two years later they spun into the Tops, finally getting their big-time Motown launching pad in 1963. Stubbs hadn't performed since 2000, due to illness. He was 72. Here's a USA Today obituary.

According to Wikipedia, Stubbs was also the voice of the hungry plant "Audrey II" in the movie version of the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" in 1986 and the voice of Mother Brain in the animated TV series "Captain N: The Game Master in 1989. And his death leaves one surviving member of the original group: Abdul ''Duke'' Fakir.

I don't know about all of you, but the Tops was one of those bands that formed part of the soundtrack of my life. I wasn't always happy with the Motown formula approach to soul and R&B, but it produced some great singers and great music, and Stubbs' lead vocals were right up there with all those hits --"Baby I Need Your Loving", "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)", "It's the Same Old Song", "Reach Out I'll Be There" -- ahhh, the sweet memories.

Nothing like some smooth and sensual soul to get you through those cold winter nights and hot summer afternoons, especially cruising with the top down ... I shouldn't digress, but that's the impact of music that speaks your language when you think no one else really does.

Here's a quick YouTube video from 1970. I always dug the cool dance steps and the sharp suits almost as much as the music itself.

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