Four Tops

As one of the groups who defined the Motown sound in the 1950s and 1960s, the Four Tops were a huge influence on the wider music world with a series of immortal hit singles, notably I Can't Help Myself and Reach Out I'll Be There. They were originally formed by Levi Stubbs, Duke Fakir, Obie Benson and Lawrence Payton when all were students in Detroit - originally performing as the Four Aims and changing their name to the Four Tops to avoid confusion with another group, the Ames Brothers. Signed to Chess Records in 1956, they released a series of records without any great success before Berry Gordy added them to the Motown stable in 1963, initially playing jazz and then singing back-up vocals for the Supremes. Their big breakthrough came with the Holland-Dozier-Holland song Baby I Need Your Loving, which launched them on the path to a long series of international hits. In 1965 they hit the Number 1 spot in the US with I Can't Help Myself but even this triumph was outstripped a year later by Reach Out I'll Be There; a Number 1 in both the US and the UK and now one of the all-time great Motown classics. Other hits like Standing In The Shadow Of Love, Bernadette, If I Were A Carpenter and Walk Away Renee followed - and at one point they teamed up with the Supremes for recordings. As the hits dried up and Motown shifted focus in the 1970s, they left the label and signed with ABC-Dunhill, moving in an R&B direction. They were back with Motown in the 1980s but, despite a return to the charts in 1988 with Indestructible, their hit-making days were effectively over. However, they still toured, continuing for a while as the Tops after the death of Lawrence Payton in 1997. He was eventually replaced by Theo Peoples, they became the Four Tops again and Peoples took over the role of front man and lead singer when Levi Stubbs became ill with cancer (and died in 2008).

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Stations Featuring Four Tops

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