Four Tops  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Four Tops are an American vocal quartet, whose repertoire has included doo-wop, jazz, soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, and showtunes. Founded in Detroit, Michigan as The Four Aims, lead singer Levi Stubbs (a cousin of Jackie Wilson and brother of The Falcons' Joe Stubbs), and groupmates Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton remained together for over four decades.

Among a number of groups who helped define the Motown Sound of the 1960s, including The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, and The Supremes, the Four Tops were notable for having Stubbs, a baritone, as their lead singer; most groups of the time were fronted by a tenor. The group was the main male vocal group for the songwriting and production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, who crafted for the group a stream of hit singles, including two Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits: "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" and "Reach Out I'll Be There". After Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown in 1967, the Four Tops were assigned to a number of producers, primarily Frank Wilson. When Motown left Detroit in 1972 to move to Los Angeles, California, the Tops stayed in Detroit and moved over to ABC Records, where they continued to have charting singles into the late-1970s. Since the 1980s, the Four Tops have recorded for, at various times, Motown, Casablanca Records and Arista Records. Today, save for Indestructible (owned by Sony BMG), Universal Music Group controls the rights to their entire post-1963 catalog (through various mergers and acquisitions).

The musical group was finally forced to undergo a line-up change when Lawrence Payton died on June 20, 1997. At that time, Theo Peoples was added to the group. Peoples later replaced Stubbs, who suffered from a stroke in 2000, and Ronnie McNeir assumed Peoples's spot. On July 1, 2005, Benson died of lung cancer with Payton's son Roquel replacing him. As of 2006, Fakir, McNeir, Payton, and Peoples still perform together as the Four Tops. Levi Stubbs died on October 17, 2008. Fakir is now the only founding member of the group still living.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Four Tops" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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