Levi Stubbs, R.I.P.

Oct 17th, 2008 // 6 Comments

Levi Stubbs, the gravel-voiced singer for the Four Tops, passed away at his home in Detroit today. Stubbs was a founding member of the Tops, which formed in 1954 and signed to the Motown offshoot Workshop in 1963. The group went on to score a ton of hits for the label, including the indelible “Reach Out (I’ll Be There),” “Baby I Need Your Loving,” and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honeybunch),” all of which were penned by the Holland/Dozier/Holland songwriting powerhouse. Stubbs was diagnosed with cancer in 1995 and suffered a stroke in 2000; shortly after that, he stopped touring, although he appeared with the group again for a 50th-anniversary performance in 2004. After the jump, a few other glimpses into Stubbs’ storied career.

“Baby, I Need Your Lovin’”:

“Bernadette” (from the 2004 reunion show):

“Are You Man Enough”:

“Walk Away Renee”:

Stubbs also voiced the bloodthirsty plant Audrey II in the movie version of Little Shop Of Horrors. Here’s Audrey II’s big song, “Feed Me Seymour”:

And for a change of pace, here’s the Tops’ appearance on Sesame Street:

Stubbs was 72.

The Four Tops’ Levi Stubbs dies at 72 [USA Today]

  1. Lucas Jensen

    God, this is sad news. His was a powerful, distinctive voice.

  2. AL

    Idolator has sort of been a music biz obituary clearinghouse lately. As if I’m not being hit with depressing news everywhere else I turn!

  3. Maura Johnston

    @AL: I know. This is the 38th obituary we’ve run this year :(

  4. Chris N.

    Might this be a statistical inevitability? The first wave of rock and rollers are now at least in their late 60s. Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard are in their 70s, and Chuck Berry turns 82 tomorrow (!).

  5. Maura Johnston

    @Chris N.: Oh, absolutely. But that doesn’t make it any less sad (especially in a “oh, well, i’m writing yet another obituary, sigh” sense).

  6. Anonymous

    @Maura Johnston: And that didn’t even include prolific 2Pac producer Johnny J, who jumped to his death a few weeks ago. [www.mtv.com]


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