DETROIT (AP) — Levi Stubbs, the Four Tops frontman whose dynamic and emotive voice drove such Motown classics as “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” and “Baby I Need Your Loving,” died Friday. He was 72.
He had been ill recently and died in his sleep at the Detroit house he shared with his wife of 48 years, said Dana Meah, the wife of a grandson. The Wayne County medical examiner’s office also confirmed the death.
With Stubbs in the lead, the Four Tops sold millions of records and performed for more than four decades without a change in personnel.
They signed with Motown Records in 1963 and produced 20 Top-40 hits over the next 10 years, making music history with the other acts in Berry Gordy’s Motown stable.
Their 1965 hits “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” and 1966’s “Reach Out” went to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart. Other hits included “Shake Me, Wake Me” in 1966, and “Bernadette” and “Standing in the Shadows of Love” in 1967.
The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Stubbs’ death leaves one surviving member of the original group: Abdul “Duke” Fakir. Original Top Lawrence Payton died of liver cancer in 1997. Renaldo “Obie” Benson died of lung cancer in 2005.
Stubbs was born in 1936 and grew up in Detroit, where he sang with Fakir. They met fellow Payton and Benson while singing at a mutual friend’s birthday party.