Remembering Levi

I just heard of the death of Levi Stubbs, lead singer of the Four Tops. He was 72 years old. No cause of death was given, but he had been in declining health for years now, having suffered from both a stroke and an unknown type of cancer. I saw a photo of him in a wheelchair in Jet magazine a few years back.

I always admired the Four Tops. Unlike The Temptations, there seemed to be no squabbling or infighting among group members, and their lineup remained consistent until they began to pass away (only one original member, Duke Fakir, still survives). They were a little older than most of the Motown acts and maybe more mature.

Success came to the group rather late, in 1964 (by which time most of the groups had already been established). A string of hits followed their first, Baby, I Need Your Loving, most of which required Levi to sing at a higher pitch than his natural baritone, to make his vocals sound more heartfelt and desperate (he was, after all, singing about lost love much of the time).

Levi Stubbs stayed with the group for his entire career, taking on a memorable solo job as the voice of Audrey, the man-eating plant, in the movie version of Little Shop of Horrors.


Unfortunately, by the late 1970s, the group was pretty much turning into an oldies act, with few new hits (I read once that Joe Jackson feared his boys would meet the same fate, a factor in the Jackson Five's move to another label).

Here is my all-time favorite tune recorded by the Four Tops. Rest in peace, Levi Stubbs. Enjoy!


2 comments:

shelia said...

Another one has been called home. Thank goodness we still have his music.

Sean D. Young said...

Bettye,

I though Levi was such a handsome fellow. I think my favorite Four Tops song was "Ain't No Woman Like The One I've Got".

The music plays on.