Saturday, October 18, 2008
Levi Stubbs (1936-2008) lead singer and powerhouse behind Motown soul group The Four Tops died at 72 in his hometown of Detroit. The NBC Nightly News tribute (above) is worth watching if you were a fan, or if you just want to hear humorless anchorman Brian Williams uttering the words "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch."
Stubbs was best known for singing such hits as "It's the Same Old Song" (1965), "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" (1965), "Reach Out" (1966), and "Standing in the Shadows of Love" (1967). A personal favorite of mine is the Tops' soulful rendition of The Left Banke's baroque pop nugget "Walk Away, Renee," which they covered in 1968.
In 1986, folk punker Billy Bragg paid tribute to the soul man with the ballad "Levi Stubbs' Tears."
Back in the Day: The Four Tops, in 1967, in some snappy sharkskin suits; Levi Stubbs at far right. Below is a clip from 1960s American pop TV show, Shindig.