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Friday, October 17, 2008

Levi Stubbs, RIP

Levi Stubbs, the incredible lead singer of the Four Tops, is dead at 72.
He was my favorite Motown singer. Roughed edged, singing urban sounding songs mostly in minor keys with great chord progressions. As the Temptations were to become the biggest guy group Motown had with their crossover appeal, the Four Tops were Berry Gordy's more earthy complement. In other words, although both acts enjoyed multiple pop and R&B hits, the Four Tops were more geared directly towards black audiences and the Tempts were pointed towards whites. Both were aimed at up and coming metropolitan folks of the 60's. Genius.
The coolest thing about the Four Tops over the Tempts, though, is that the Four Tops stayed together in their original line-up through their entire career until the death of one member several years back (I forget the name). The Tempts always had a rotating cast of stars coming through. Both acts are great and I have developed a greater appreciation for Berry Gordy's production quality over the years, mostly due to the incredible feel of songs like "Bernadette" from the Tops. No one could top Levi Stubbs in singing that song. Nobody anywhere- ever. Rest in peace, Levi Stubbs.

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