R.I.P. Levi Stubbs

News bulletin: "DETROIT (AP) -- Four Tops frontman Levi Stubbs has died at 72."

Reaction: One of 1960s soul music's greatest expressionists has been silenced.

As the longtime lead singer for the Four Tops, Stubbs was known for his yearning vocals on some classic Motown sides, including "Baby I Need Your Loving," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)," "It's the Same Old Song," "Bernadette" and "Reach Out I'll Be There."

Detroit News critic Susan Whithall wrote today that Stubbs's "impassioned baritone was one of the most iconic voices to come out of Motown." She went on to call his voice "a rare instrument, capable of sheer, soaring joy, but also the most abject, broken-hearted sorrow."

Howard Kramer, curatorial director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was told USA Today that Stubbs "could invoke so much passion and longing in a voice" and added that the singer was "incredibly expressive."

Here are four of the group's most memorable songs:

"Baby I Need Your Loving"

"Reach Out I'll Be There"

"It's the Same Old Song"

"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)"

By J. Freedom du Lac |  October 17, 2008; 2:25 PM ET Appreciations
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Levi Stubbs, a consummate Motown singer. (But how about a nod to his "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space"? It took a special dignity to make a title like that work).

Posted by: Nosy Parker | October 17, 2008 3:17 PM

A true legend and one of the most underrated soul singers around. Since he was part of a group, he was never presented as a star in the same way as Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, etc. But Levi was awesome. Legend has it the Four Tops' songs were arranged in a higher key to put some strain in his natural baritone voice. Needless to say, it worked. RIP, Levi.

Posted by: baltova | October 17, 2008 3:21 PM

Rest in peace. A great among a generation of incredible Motown legends, Levi accomplished much for race relations with his spectacular music. We were there with him, and we will all remember Levi and the Tops until our own dying days.

Posted by: Butch Dillon | October 17, 2008 3:59 PM

Just bought their greatest hits cd a couple of months ago. He will truly be missed by me. His music is my kind of music and I will never get tired of it.

Posted by: A Long TIme Fan | October 17, 2008 4:05 PM

If there was one person who personified the Motown sound; it was Levi Stubbs. Thanks for the memories.

Posted by: OdessaTerp | October 17, 2008 4:20 PM

I remember my first time seeing my Four Tops... 1998, fall of my freshman year in college. I and my older sister were shouting "We Love You" to Duke, Obie and Levi so loud that the poor guys HAD to acknowledge their overly exuberant twosome of an appreciation committee. I was just happy to finally see the Four Tops live, although the Four Tops were three that night; Lawrence Payton, Sr. had passed on, and Theo Peoples hadn't yet joined.

I'd taken to liking the Tops when I was in diapers, the hook-laden tunes, sweet harmonies and Levi's impassioned vocals had me sold early on. And now, I'm just happy to know that I saw the Captain in all his splendor.

I will spend the night listening to my particular favorite Four Tops tune, "It's The Way Nature Planned It." A tip to a life well-lived. Peaceful journey, Mr. Stubbs. Condolences to the entire Stubbs. family.

Posted by: Ms. T | October 17, 2008 4:28 PM

What a voice. The Tops were before my time, but they were an acts whose music were classic and will be passed on from generation to generation.

Posted by: Simon2 | October 17, 2008 4:29 PM

Levi was a great one.

Another great tune of theirs is "Bernadette".

"Standing in the Shadows of Love" is another.

While the Gordy's were shadier than an old growth oak tree when it came to paying musicians and singers, I have to give them credit for assembling one of the most prolific producers of quality in pop history.

Posted by: shocked dad | October 17, 2008 4:33 PM

R.I.P. One of the all-time great voices ever put on wax.

Posted by: Laurel | October 17, 2008 4:44 PM

A great and underrated singer. Billy Bragg wrote a song called "Levi Stubbs' Tears" that's a tribute to Motown and to Stubbs and what his music means.

Posted by: SteveH | October 17, 2008 4:46 PM

One of the great voices in any era period,Levi was also a true ladies man there are many stories a little too risque to share, but a true music legend "shake me wake me", macarthur park, and a boatload of other hits he was the FOUR TOPS, RIP my brother.

Posted by: DARGREGMAG@AOL.COM | October 17, 2008 5:13 PM

RIP Levi, you were amazing and your voice lives on...I'll take:

There's something about you
Standing in the shadows of love

Posted by: basil | October 17, 2008 6:01 PM

Levi stubbs a great black soul music singer is back with the ancient ones..peace"

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2008 6:15 PM

The Four Tops were an older group by Motown standards, more mature than most of their compadres. They stayed together until illness and death parted them. What a wonderful ride.

To me, they will always be that sweet melody, together forever.

RIP Levi Stubbs and condolences to your family and friends

Posted by: AL | October 17, 2008 8:24 PM


Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2008 12:31 PM

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