October 19, 2008 – Levi Stubbs was born Levi Stubbles on June 6th 1936. He became lead vocalist with The Four Tops and began his professional singing career with friends Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton to form the Four Aims in 1954. Two years later, the group changed their name to the Four Tops.
The Four Tops were among a number of groups, including The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, and The Supremes, who established the Motown Sound around the world during the 1960s. They were notable for having Stubbs, a baritone, as their lead singer, whereas most male/mixed vocal groups of the time were fronted by a tenor.
The group began as a supper-club act before finally signing to Motown Records in 1963. As an actor, Stubbs provided the voice of the carnivorous 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.
With the Four Tops he scored international megahits with “If I were a Carpenter”, “Reach Out and I’ll be there” and “I can’t help myself” (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch). Personally I was more partial to their songs “It’s the same old song”, “Bernadette” and “Baby I need your loving”.
With more than 40 charting hits, the Four Tops have won many awards during their long and distinguished career, including the following:
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1990)
- Vocal Group Hall of Fame (1999)
- Hollywood Walk Of Fame (1997)
- Grammy Hall Of Fame (Reach Out I’ll Be There-1998)
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2009-51st Annual Grammy Awards)
- Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award (1997)
- Billboard Magazine Top 100 Artists of All Time(#77)
- R&B Music Hall of Fame Induction (2013)
- 100 Greatest Artists of All Time (#79-Rolling Stone Magazine)
Levi Stubbs died on October 19, 2008 from complications of cancer and stroke at age 72.