Levi Stubbles (June 6, 1936 – October 17, 2008), better known by the stage name, Levi Stubbs, was an American baritone singer, best known as the lead vocalist of the famed Motown R&B group The Four Tops.
Death of Levi Stubbles
Levi Stubbles died October 17, 2008 at his home in Detroit after a long serious illness including cancer and a stroke — that forced him to stop performing in 2000. Levi Stubbles was 72 years old at the time of his death
The Four Tops
Stubbs began his professional singing career with friends Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton to form the Four Aims in 1954. Two years later, the group changed their name to the Four Tops. The group began as a supper-club act before finally signing to Motown Records in 1963; by the end of the decade, The Four Tops had over a dozen hits to their name.
Levi Stubbs’ biography continues next page
Four Tops – I’ll be there. Lead singer is Levi Stubbs
The most popular of the Four Tops hits, all of which featured Stubbs on lead vocals, include "Baby I Need Your Loving", "I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)", "It’s the Same Old Song", "Reach Out I’ll Be There", "Standing in the Shadows of Love", "Bernadette", "Still Water (Love)", and "Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got)".
Although Stubbs was a natural baritone, most of the Four Tops’ hits were written in a tenor range to give the lead vocals a sense of urgency. Stubbs and the other Tops remained a team until Payton died in 1997, at which point Theo Peoples took his place. The Four Tops were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Benson also died on July 1, 2005.
As an actor, credited as Levi Stubbs, Jr., he provided the voice of the carnivorous plant "Audrey II" in the movie version of the musical, Little Shop of Horrors (1986) and the voice of Mother Brain in the animated TV series Captain N: The Game Master (1989). Stubbs has also guest starred in a number of TV shows as himself.
Stubbs and his wife Clineice were married from 1960 until his death, and had five children. In 1995, Stubbs was diagnosed with cancer, and later, a stroke, and therefore stopped touring. Since 2000, Theo Peoples has taken Stubbs’ place as the lead singer of The Four Tops, with Ronnie McNeir taking the place that Payton originally held. Stubbs was a cousin of soul singer Jackie Wilson.