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.
“Bernadette” (from the 2004 reunion show):
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]