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Levi Stubbs, Four Tops Singer, Dead At 72

Of the Oakland Press

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The Motown family lost one of its most powerful voices with Friday's (Oct. 17) death of Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs, Jr.

Stubbs, 72, passed away early Friday morning at his home in Detroit after a long series if illnesses -- including cancer and a stroke -- that forced him to stop performing in 2000.

Funeral arrangements are pending for Stubbs, who is survived by Clineice, his wife of 48 years, five children and grandchildren.

The Motown Alumni Association's Billy J. Wilson said on Friday that Stubbs "had one of the most prolific and identifiably voices in American history. It's a deep loss, to the entire Motown family and to the world."

Stubbs, who was born Levi Stubbles in Detroit and graduated from Pershing High School,- gave voice to enduring hits such as "Baby I Need Your Loving," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," "Reach Out I'll Be There," "Brenadette" and others. The Tops have sold more than 50 million records and racked up 45 chart hits for the Motown, ABC Dunhill and Casablanca labels, and the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Stubbs also provided the voice of Audrey II, the man-eating plant in the film version of the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" in 1986, and of Mother Brain in the 1989 animated TV series "Captain N: The Game Master."

Stubbs' last public appearance with the group came at the group's 50th Anniversary Concert on July 28, 2004 at the Detroit Opera House.

Stubbs' death leaves Abdul "Duke" Fakir as the Top's only living member from the original quartet, which formed in 1954 as the Four Aims and signed with Motown nine years later. Laurence Payton passed away in 1997, and Renaldo "Obie" Benson died in 2005. Fakir continues to lead a version of the Tops that includes Payton's son Roquel, former Temptations member Theo Peoples and Motown veteran Ronnie McNeir.

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