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The Four Tops

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The Four Tops


Who could have predicted that high-school vocal group the Four Aims would become one of the most beloved groups on the legendary Motown label? It took the Four Tops a good ten years of near misses before they hit with 1964's "Baby I Need Your Loving," but once the quartet got rolling, they were nearly impossible to stop. They racked up an incredible number of chart hits, including such Number 1 smashes as "I Can't Help Myself (Sugarpie Honeybunch)" and "Standing In the Shadows of Love." Levi Stubbs' soulful vocals were the perfect complement to the rich, seamless backing of the other Tops, and combined with the songwriting prowess of Holland-Dozier-Holland, the Four Tops were at the peak of their game throughout their seven-year tenure on Motown Records. The group continued to find pockets of chart success throughout the 1970s and '80s, including such post-Motown smashes as "Ain't No Woman Like the One I've Got" and the disco-flavored "When She Was My Girl." Under Stubbs' leadership, the band didn't have a single change in personnel during its 40-year career -- a rarity for the Motown roster -- and was inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1997, Lawrence Payton died of liver cancer and, after a short stint as a trio, the surviving members recruited Temptation Theo Peoples to take his place. Because of illness, the group saw a handful of other Motown vets shuffle through the line-up in subsequent reunions. In October of 2008, Levi Stubbs died in his sleep in his Detroit home at the age of 72.
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