Four Tops (Motown)

~ Group

Wikipedia

The Four Tops are an American vocal quartet from Detroit, Michigan who helped to define the city's Motown sound of the 1960s. The group's repertoire has included soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, doo-wop, jazz, and show tunes.

Founded as The Four Aims, lead singer Levi Stubbs, and groupmates Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton remained together for over four decades, having gone from 1953 until 1997 without a change in personnel.

The Four Tops were among a number of groups, including The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, and The Supremes, who established the Motown Sound around the world during the 1960s. They were notable for having Stubbs, a baritone, as their lead singer, whereas most male/mixed vocal groups of the time were fronted by a tenor.

The group was the main male vocal group for the highly successful songwriting and production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland, who crafted a stream of hit singles on Motown. These included two Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits for the Tops: "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" in 1965 and "Reach Out I'll Be There" in 1966. After Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown in 1967, the Four Tops were assigned to a number of producers, primarily Frank Wilson, but generally with less success.

When Motown left Detroit in 1972 to move to Los Angeles, California, the Tops stayed in Detroit but signed a new recording deal with ABC Records' Dunhill imprint. Recording mainly in Los Angeles, they continued to have chart singles into the late 1970s, including the million-seller, "Ain't No Woman", their second release on Dunhill, produced by Steve Barri and composers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter.

In the 1980s, the Four Tops recorded for Casablanca Records, Arista Records and Motown, returning to that label on two occasions for brief stays. Apart from their Indestructible album (owned by Sony Music Entertainment), Universal Music Group controls the rights to their entire post-1963 catalog (through various mergers and acquisitions), as well as their 1956 single, "Could It Be You".

A change of line-up was finally forced upon the group when Lawrence Payton died on June 20, 1997. The group initially continued as a three-piece under the name The Tops, before Theo Peoples (formerly of The Temptations) was recruited as the new fourth member. Peoples eventually took over the role of lead singer when Stubbs suffered a stroke in 2000, with Ronnie McNeir then joining the group. On July 1, 2005, Benson died of lung cancer with Payton's son Roquel Payton replacing him. Levi Stubbs died on October 17, 2008.

Fakir, McNeir, Payton, and Harold "Spike" Bonhart, who replaced Peoples in 2011, are still performing together as the Four Tops. As of 2014, fifty years after their first Motown hit, Fakir is the only surviving founding member of the original group and Payton is a second-generation member.

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Discography

Album

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1964 Four Tops Four Tops 1
1965 Second Album Four Tops 1
1966 On Top Four Tops 1
1967 Reach Out Four Tops 4
1968 Yesterday's Dreams Four Tops 1
1969 Soul Spin Four Tops 2
1969 Four Tops Now! Four Tops 2
1970 Still Waters Run Deep Four Tops 1
1970 Changing Times Four Tops 1
1970 The Magnificent 7 The Supremes & Four Tops 2
1971 The Return of the Magnificent Seven The Supremes & Four Tops 1
1972 Nature Planned It Four Tops 1
1972 Dynamite The Supremes & Four Tops 1
1972 Keeper of the Castle Four Tops 1
1973 Main Street People Four Tops 1
1977 The Show Must Go On Four Tops 1
1981 Tonight Four Tops 1
1982 One More Mountain Four Tops 1
1988 Indestructible Four Tops 3
1998 Classic Sounds of the Motor City, Volume One Four Tops 1
1999 Breaking Through Four Tops 1
2001 Four Tops / Second Album Four Tops 1
2001 Still Waters Run Deep / Changing Times Four Tops 1
2001 Yesterday's Dreams / Soul Spin Four Tops 1
2012 The Best Of The Four Tops Four Tops 1
Four Tops Four Tops 1
Live At The Stardust 2006 Four Tops 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1968 Greatest Hits Four Tops 1
1973 Anthology 1964-1972 Four Tops 1
1973 The Best of The Four Tops Four Tops 1
1984 Compact Command Performances: 19 Greatest Hits Four Tops 2
1986 Anthology Four Tops 1
1987 Greatest Hits Four Tops 3
1988 Greatest Hits Four Tops 1
1990 Anthology Four Tops 1
1991 Ain't No Woman (Like The One I've Got) Four Tops 1
1991 Best Of The Supremes & Four Tops 1
1992 Motown's Greatest Hits Four Tops 1
1992 When She Was My Girl Four Tops 1
1992 The Singles Collection Four Tops 1
1993 The Look of Love Four Tops 1
1996 Early Classics: Four Tops Four Tops 1
1997 The Ultimate Collection Four Tops 1
1997 The Ultimate Collection Four Tops 1
1998 Shake Me, Wake Me Four Tops 1
1999 The Best of the ABC Years 1972-1977 Four Tops 1
2000 Essential Collection Four Tops 1
2000 The Singles+ Four Tops 1
2000 Loco in Acapulco Four Tops 1
2000 The Universal Masters Collection: Classic Four Tops Four Tops 1
2001 Fourever Four Tops 1
2001 On Top / Reach Out Four Tops 1
2002 At Their Very Best The Temptations & Four Tops 1
2002 Reach Out I'll Be There Four Tops 1
2002 Sing the Same Old Song Four Tops 1
2004 Anthology 50th Anniversary Four Tops 1
2006 Soul Legends Four Tops 1
2007 Reach Out I’ll Be There & Other Greatest Hits Four Tops 1
2007 Reach Out I'll Be There (Black Box 2007) Four Tops 1
2008 The Definitive Collection Four Tops 1
2009 Magnificent: The Complete Studio Duets The Supremes & Four Tops 1
2011 Icon Four Tops 1
16 Original World Hits Four Tops 1
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Four Tops Four Tops 1
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of The Four Tops, Volume 2 Four Tops 1
Anthology 1964-1972 Four Tops 1
At Their Very Best Four Tops 1
Christmas Here With You Four Tops 1
Greatest Hits Four Tops 1
Motown Legends Four Tops 1
The Best of the Four Tops - Greatest Hits 1972 - 1976 Four Tops 1
The Very Best of the Four Tops Four Tops 1
Until You Love Someone: More of the Best (1965-1970) Four Tops 1

Album + Live

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1966 Four Tops Live Four Tops 2
1974 Live and in Concert Four Tops 1
1999 The Four Tops Collection Four Tops 1
At the MGM Grand Four Tops 1
The Motown 25th Anniversary Television Special Four Tops 1

Single

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1964 Baby I Need Your Loving / Call on Me Four Tops 3
1964 Without the One You Love (Life's Not Worthwile) / Love Has Gone Four Tops 1
1965 Ask the Lonely / Where Did You Go? Four Tops 1
1965 I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) / Sad Souvenirs Four Tops 1
1966 Standing in the Shadows of Love Four Tops 1
1966 Reach Out, I'll Be There Four Tops 1
1966 Walk Away Renee Four Tops 1
1967 7-Rooms of Gloom Four Tops 1
1967 You Keep Running Away / If You Don't Want My Love Four Tops 1
1970 River Deep - Mountain High The Supremes & Four Tops 1
1971 You Gotta Have Love in Your Heart The Supremes & Four Tops 1
1971 Simple Game / You Stole My Love Four Tops 1
1981 When She Was My Girl Four Tops 1
1983 Medley The Temptations & Four Tops 1
1988 Indestructible Four Tops 1
1998 Loco in Acapulco Four Tops 1

Unspecified type

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1967 Four Tops on Broadway The Four Tops 1
1974 Meeting of the Minds Four Tops, The 1
1975 Night Lights Harmony Four Tops 1

Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
2006 Superstar Series Four Tops 1
Die Zeit Edition: Legenden Des Soul Four Tops 1

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