The great voice of Levi Stubbs is now silenced.
That dynamic voice that brought us classics like “Reach Out (I’ll be There)” , “Baby I need Your Loving” and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey-bunch)” and other hits, died today at the age of 72.
Levi Stubbs was the front man and lead singer for the popular Motown group known as the Four Tops. The Four Tops sold millions of records and performed for more than four decades without a change in personnel.
Former Motown label-mate Smokey Robinson said, “Levi Stubbs was one of the great voices of all times. 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 also recorded for Red Top, Riverside and Columbia Records and toured supper clubs.
The received their greatest success when they signed with Motown Records in 1963. They produced 20 Top-40 hits over the next 10 years, making music history with the other acts in Berry Gordy’s Motown stable.
“It is not only a tremendous personal loss for me, but for the Motown family, and people all over the world who were touched by his rare voice and remarkable spirit,” Gordy said Friday. “Levi was the greatest interpreter of songs I’ve ever heard.”
When he and others at Motown first heard “Baby I Need Your Loving,” Gordy remembered: “Levi’s voice exploded in the room and went straight for our hearts. We all knew it was a hit, hands down.”
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).
Stubbs “fits right up there with all the icons of Motown,” said Audley Smith, chief operating officer of the Motown Historical Museum. “His voice was as unique as Marvin’s or as Smokey’s or as Stevie’s.”
Levi Stubbs and the Four Tops were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and they have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Click on the following links and enjoy the voice and legend of Levi Stubbs…