Page last updated at 19:23 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 20:23 UK

Four Tops star Levi Stubbs dies

Levi Stubbs
Levi Stubbs was famous for his baritone voice

Levi Stubbs, lead singer of legendary Motown band The Four Tops, has died at his home in Detroit, US, aged 72.

The performer, who had suffered ill-health for several years, passed away in his sleep.

Abdul Fakir is the only surviving original member of the group, which has sold more than 50m records.

The Detroit band became one of Motown Records' biggest successes, scoring hits including Bernadette and Reach Out (I'll Be There).

Founding members Lawrence Payton and Obie Benson died in 1997 and 2005 respectively.

Audley Smith, of the Motown Historical Museum, said that Levi Stubbs had a voice as unique as Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson or Stevie Wonder.

"[He] fits right up there with all the icons of Motown," he said.

Levi Stubbs was born in 1936 in Detroit and met Abdul "Duke" Fakir at High School.

The Four Tops on Top of The Pops in 1988
The Four Tops were one of Motown's biggest successes

They met Payton and Benson while singing at a mutual friend's birthday party.

In 1953, they formed a group called The Four Aims and signed a deal with Chess Records.

Later they changed their names to the Four Tops to avoid being confused with the Ames Brothers.

The group signed with Motown Records in 1963 and produced 20 Top-40 hits over the following 10 years, making music history with other acts in Berry Gordy's Motown stable.

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Stubbs is survived by his wife Clineice, five children and 11 grandchildren.


SEE ALSO
Four Tops' Benson dies of cancer
02 Jul 05 |  Entertainment


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