If Abdul "Duke" Fakir, the sole surviving member of the Four Tops, has a smile on his face these days, rest assured that, well, he can't help himself.
This is a big year for the marquee Motown group. It's been 60 years since Fakir and his late groupmates -- Levi Stubbs, Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Peyton came together as the Four Aims in Detroit. And it's been 50 years since "Baby I Need Your Loving" began the Tops' prolific mid-60s run of hits. So even though some commemorative projects haven't yet materialized -- including a memoir, an all-star concert/TV special and a stage musical -- Fakir is reveling in the moment.
"It's a great year for me," says the 78-year-old Detroit native, who continues to lead the group with four other members. "I'm just enjoying it my kind of way. I just feel great about my life and the things we've done and the things the Tops did that helped build us into this legacy that we're holding together."
"It feels like maybe 20 or 30 years, to be honest. I can't fathom in my mind what 60 years would feel like. It's like two or three lifetimes; some things seem so far back, like in another world, and some things that really are so far back seem so close. It's just about the emotional value of those experiences and how they linger with me."
Fakir says he's confident the various group projects will still transpire, the TV special perhaps before the end of the year. His enthusiasm for the group is not diminishing at all, either, though he has some reservations about continuing into his ninth decade.
"There's a thing about turning 80 that I've got in my head, like maybe you should not be doing on stage at 80 what you're doing now," Fakir admits. "But that's what my head says,not what my body and heart are saying. My body is saying, 'We're rolling,' and as long as we're still drawing good crowds and still enjoying the traveling and people are still enjoying the show and I have my desire and love for what we do, I feel like I can do this.
"I feel like I can do this 'til I drop."
The Four Tops and Temptations perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 21, at the Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, 14900 Metropolitan Parkway, Sterling Heights. Tickets are $25-$55 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (586) 268-5100 or visit www.freedomhill.net.
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