- 🇺🇸 Detroit, MI
- Years Active
1953 - Now
The Four Tops are one of the cornerstone groups responsible for the golden age of Motown Records, teaming with the production trio of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland for a series of dramatic crossover classics including "Baby I Need Your Loving," "I Can't Help Myself" and "Reach Out I'll Be There."
Four Tops founders Levi Stubbs, Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton first joined forces in 1953, and this lineup remained in place for an astounding 44 years, a run ending only with Payton's 1997 death. The Four Tops recorded only infrequently during their first decade of existence, focusing on the lucrative supper-club circuit before signing to local label Motown in 1963. The group's first album, a collection of standards, remained in the Motown vault for more than three decades, but when label founder Berry Gordy Jr. paired the Four Tops with Holland-Dozier-Holland, the result was the million-selling "Baby I Need Your Loving," the first in a series of now-familiar hits.
Holland-Dozier-Holland focused their efforts on Stubbs' melancholy, majestic baritone, a stark contrast to rival acts that featured a tenor as lead vocalist, and the raw power of his voice elevated records like "I Can't Help Myself" and "Reach Out I'll Be There" to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The Four Tops' commercial and creative fortunes declined after the H-D-H trio exited Motown in 1968, however, and when Motown relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles in the summer of 1972, the group signed to ABC-Dunhill, ultimately returning to Motown in 1983. The Four Tops continue to tour as of mid-2023, although Fakir is now the sole surviving member of the classic lineup.