Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1936, deep-voiced singer Levi Stubbs began his professional singing career in his hometown when he and friends Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson, and Lawrence Payton formed the Four Aims vocal group in 1954 (some accounts put the date a year earlier). The group worked as a supper club act for a couple of years, changing their name to the Four Tops and, following unsuccessful recording stints with Chess and Columbia, signed to Berry Gordy's then-fledgling Motown Records in 1963. They completed a debut LP for Motown in their polished and jazzy supper club style but it wasn't really what Gordy was looking for and he switched their style to a harder, more pop-flavored R&B sound, wisely placing them in the hands of the in-house Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team. Pure magic happened. With Stubbs singing lead, his natural baritone pitched at the top of his range to create a sense of vibrant urgency, the Four Tops delivered an impressive run of hits for Motown, beginning with "Baby I Need Your Loving" in 1964 and following it with "Ask the Lonely," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," and "It's the Same Old Song" in 1965, and "Something About You," "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)," "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever," and the soul symphony "Reach Out, I'll Be There" in 1966. "Standing in the Shadows of Love" and "Bernadette" followed in 1967. Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown over a financial dispute at the end of the year, though, and the Four Tops suffered for it, eventually leaving the label themselves in 1972 and signing with ABC-Dunhill, where they were teamed with producers/songwriters Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, who did their best to re-create the group's trademark Motown sound. The first single, "Keeper of the Castle," was a hit, as was "Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)" early in 1973, but the creative well was running dry for the group, at least as a chart-topping act. They continued to tour and perform shows, occasionally notching a song in the lower reaches of the charts. Benson died in 1995 and Payton passed away in 1997. Theo Peoples joined the group and took over the lead vocal work when Stubbs was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to continue touring. Aside from his work as a singer, Stubbs also did some acting, appearing in several television shows (usually as himself) and provided the voice for the carnivorous plant in the movie musical version of Little Shop of Horrors (1986) and the voice of Mother Brain in the animated TV series Captain N: The Game Master (1989). Levi Stubbs passed away at his home in Detroit on October 17, 2008. ~ Steve Leggett~ Rovi
Top Songs & Albums Levi Stubbs
... read moreBorn in Detroit, Michigan in 1936, deep-voiced singer Levi Stubbs began his professional singing career in his hometown when he and friends Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson, and Lawrence Payton formed the Four Aims vocal group in 1954 (some accounts put the date a year earlier). The group...