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. 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. 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. “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.” Stubbs’ death leaves one surviving member of the original group: Abdul “Duke” Fakir. Original Top Lawrence Payton died of liver cancer in 1997. Renaldo “Obie” Benson died of lung cancer in 2005. Stubbs is survived by his wife Cliniece, five children and 11 grandchildren.
Levi Stubbs-Rest in Peace
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