The Four Tops Biography
The Four Tops are a Detroit-based American singing group who contributed to the development of the Motown sound in the 1960s. Soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, doo-wop, jazz, and show tunes have all been featured in the group’s past performances. Lead vocalist Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson, and Lawrence Payton formed the band The Four Aims and performed together continuously for more than 40 years, from 1953 to 1997.
While they were high school students in Detroit, all four members of the group started their professional lives together. Levi Stubbs and Abdul “Duke” Fakir from Pershing High School and Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton from Northern High School joined forces to perform at a neighborhood birthday celebration at the urging of their pals. The quartet made the decision to stick together and adopted the moniker the Four Aims. In order to prevent confusion with the Ames Brothers, the Aims changed their name to the Four Tops when they joined Chess Records in 1956 with the assistance of Payton’s musical cousin Roquel Davis.
The Tops spent the following seven years working unsuccessfully for Chess Records, Red Top Records, Riverside Records, and Columbia Records. They didn’t have any hit recordings, but they toured frequently, honing their stage presence and building a seasoned supper club act while also opening for Billy Eckstine. Berry Gordy, Jr., who had collaborated as a songwriter with Roquel “Billy” Davis in the late 1950s, persuaded the Tops to sign on with his expanding Motown record label in 1963.
The principal songwriting and production trio for Motown in 1964, Holland-Dozier-Holland, produced an entire instrumental tune without knowing what to do with it. They made the decision to transform the music into a more accessible pop song for the Four Tops, and they started by turning the instrumental track into “Baby I Need Your Loving.” “Baby I Need Your Loving” reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 following its release in the middle of 1964.
Without the One You Love (Life’s Not Worth While)” (1964), the first follow-up single, narrowly missed the pop and R&B Top 40 charts, but “Ask the Lonely,” written and produced by Motown A&R head William “Mickey” Stevenson with Ivy Jo Hunter, was a Top 30 pop hit and a Top 10 R&B hit in the early 1965.
The Miracles, the Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Temptations, and the Supremes were just a few of the groups that helped create the Motown Sound that became popular all over the world in the 1960s, along with the Four Tops. In contrast to most other male and mixed vocal groups at the time, they stood out for having baritone Stubbs as their lead singer.
The quartet served as the primary male vocal group for Holland-Dozier-Holland, a very successful songwriting and production combination that produced a steady stream of hit singles for Motown. These included the Tops’ 1965 and 1966 singles “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” both of which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Even into the 1970s, the group had hit singles on the charts, including the million-selling “Ain’t No Woman” (1973).
Both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame inducted the group in 1990 and 1999, respectively. They were voted #79 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004. The Four Tops continue to perform with Fakir as the last surviving original member.
The Four Tops Discography
|Back Where I Belong
|The Show Must Go On
|Meeting of the Minds
|Nature Planned It
|Four Tops Now!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Of The Original Four Tops Are?
The Four Tops are a Motown vocal group who achieved great success in the 1960s and 1970s. The group’s original lineup consisted of lead singer Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson, and Lawrence Payton.
How Many Hits Did The Four Tops Have?
The Four Tops are an American vocal group who helped to define the Motown sound of the 1960s. They had a string of hit singles that includes “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)”, “It’s the Same Old Song”, and “Reach Out I’ll Be There”. They also appeared in the films The Big Chill and Animal House.
What Is The Four Tops Most Famous Song?
The Four Tops are most famous for their song “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)”. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1965 and has been covered by many artists over the years.
How Many Albums Did The Four Tops Sell?
The Four Tops sold over 50 million records worldwide. They released 38 singles, including 12 number-one hits. Their most popular songs include “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”, “Reach Out I’ll Be There”, and “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got)”.