Four Tops frontman Levi Stubbs dies at 72
By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER
DETROIT (AP, 10/17/08) — Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs, who possessed one of the most dynamic and emotive voices of all the Motown singers, died Friday at 72. He had been ill recently and died in his sleep at the Detroit house he shared with his wife, said Dana Meah, the wife of a grandson. The Wayne County medical examiner's office also confirmed the death.
With Stubbs in the lead, the Four Tops sold millions of records, including such hits as "Baby I Need Your Loving," "Reach Out (I'll Be There)" and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)."
The group performed for more than four decades without a change in personnel. Stubbs' death leaves one surviving member of the original group: Abdul "Duke" Fakir.
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."
The Four Tops began singing together in 1953 under the group 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.
They also recorded for Red Top, Riverside and Columbia Records and toured supper clubs.
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.
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" 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).
They toured for decades afterward and reached the charts as late as 1988 with "Indestructible" on Arista Records. In 1986, Stubbs provided the voice for Audrey II the man-eating plant in the film "Little Shop of Horrors."
The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Original Top Lawrence Payton died of liver cancer in 1997. Renaldo "Obie" Benson died of lung cancer in 2005.
Stubbs was born in 1936 in Detroit and attended Pershing High School, where he sang with Fakir. They met fellow Detroiters Payton and Benson while singing at a mutual friend's birthday party, then decided to form a group.
"These are four of the greatest people I have ever known. They were major pros even before they came to Motown," Gordy said when the Four Tops' star was unveiled in Hollywood.
Stubbs is survived by his wife, five children and 11 grandchildren.
I Know Rochon's gotta be hurtin' today (you can see Roch in the clip below). Sorry, bro'. And, our sincere condolences to Levi's family.
GYPSY FIRE RETURNS TO VEGAS
Our friends from the UK Stuart Carter-Smith and Ben Travers are returning and will appear with Mundo's "Hot Club of Las Vegas" next week at VOX Lounge in Henderson.
Gonna see if we can get them to sit in again at the Santa Fe gig. Last time they did, they blew it out. BTW, you can hear them on Podcast #7, "Friends of Santa Fe, Volume 3." And, Mundo tells me he's gonna shortly have some new material for inclusion on my next "Friends of Santa Fe" podcast, from HCLV's upcoming CD release. Yes, there's gonna be a Volume 5.
Slow blogging week for me, sorry. Been busy doing volunteer work for the election and hangin' with my Ma at the nursing home.
Get out and vote. If, that is, you've done your serious and honest homework on the candidates and the real issues. BTW, early voting starts today in Nevada and continues through Oct 31st. Avoid the lines on November 4th. Cheryl and I will be voting either today or tomorrow. One nice side benefit of early voting is that your name gets removed from call and canvassing lists, so people like me won't continue to bug you.
Speaking of Cheryl: as I sit here writing this (9 a.m.) she's an hour into this 4-hour brain crusher of a certification exam, the ASQ Certified Quality Manager ("CMQ/OE"). She's long been a CQA (Certified Quality Auditor), but this one is a big prize. She'll do fine. Smartest woman I ever met.
Yummie. Lucky me.
She got home yesterday evening, and I get to have her home for a whole 7 days! Sweet thang will even be at the Santa Fe gig at The Palms Monday night. Yes!
Below, the fast-acting and effective post- Certification Exam medication I bought for her, LOL.
10 yr old single malt from Edinburgh.
O/T PROUD GWANDADDY REPORT
My Grandson Keenan (he's #12) scored his 10th and 11th touchdowns of the season yesterday, in a 52-34 losing effort against a school from Utah (Keebo's team is now 5-1 on the season). He's just back from a groin injury. I shot a few pics with my new camera during the 1st half. The first two shots below are of his 65 yd TD run. The kid is so fast, no one can touch him once he breaks clean.
He almost had a 3rd TD, and on D he made 3 score-saving open-field tackles in the first half (I had to split at halftime to go to McCarran and fetch Cheryl).
Lovin' this new camera (Sony Alpha 350). Got a lot to learn about it yet. it's extremely powerful and feature-rich (14.2 megapixels, and will even do HD video!). It's actually Minolta technology. Sony bought them.
Gotta say, though, there're no flies on my old, outdated 3.2 megapixel Fuji 602. Below, couple of shots from Monday night that I squeezed off with it.
I'm probably gonna put it on eBay and/or Craigslist and sell it for whatever it'll bring. It's been a great value for me. I bought it in early 2004, mainly for our trip to the UK and France, principally to see the end of le Tour de France (open directory of some of the 600+ shots I took over there).
LOL! ADOLPH, WE NEVER KNEW YE
This has been making the snarky rounds on our Santa Fe email list this morning. Jeez...
Soulful cat. Who knew?