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Four Tops Singer Levi Stubbs R.I.P.


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Four Tops singer Levi Stubbs dies at 72

Susan Whitall / The Detroit News

Levi Stubbs, whose impassioned baritone was one of the most iconic voices to come out of Motown Records, died this morning at his Detroit home. The singer was 72.

On songs like "Baby I Need Your Loving," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," "Reach Out (I'll Be There)," "Standing in the Shadows of Love," "Bernadette," "Ask the Lonely" and other Four Tops hits, Stubbs' voice was a rare instrument, capable of sheer, soaring joy, but also the most abject, broken-hearted sorrow.

Stubbs suffered a series of strokes several years ago that forced him to retire from touring with the Tops. The group -- which also included Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Lawrence Payton and Renaldo "Obie" Benson -- had been together since the 1950s, well before Berry Gordy Jr. signed them to Motown, and were seasoned performers on the sophisticated nightclub circuit. Fakir is now the only survivor of the original group.

"Smooth, classy and polished, they were big stuff," Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. wrote in his memoir "To Be Loved." "I wanted them bad. I could see how loyal they were to each other, and I knew they would be the same way to me and Motown."

You can reach Susan Whitall at (313) 222-2156 or swhitall@detnews.com.


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