The Four Tops: I'll Be There

If you ask many R&B and Soul aficionados what their favorite male vocal group was in the 60's, chances are a bunch will reply, THE FOUR TOPS. The Tops were down home Detroit boys with great voices and style; they literally helped to mold the Motown Records image nationwide with their "Look" and sound.

The Tops--Lead singer, Levi Stubbs, Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton--kept the same members from 1953 to 1997, when Lawrence Peyton passed away. The Tops were favorites of the legendary Motown writing team, Holland–Dozier–Holland, who hand crafted songs for them like, "I Can't Help Myself," and "I'll Be There," both #1's on the Hot 100.

Then the H-D-Z team moved on to greener pastures and Motown moved to L.A.. So the Four Tops decided to make a label change going to ABC-Dunhill. They soon had another hit with the Steve Barri produced, "Ain't No Woman Like The One I Got," showing they could succeed without Motown.

Over the years attrition has taken over the group, and only Duke Fakir is left of the original members. But the Tops, like many successful groups, have been able to recruit strong replacements for missing members, like Theo Peoples from the Temps after Levi Stubbs suffered a stroke.

New recruits are taught the parts of the member they are replacing including the dance moves. Speaking of which, this video of the Four Tops singing and dancing to "I'll Be There," in a color clip from 1966 with good video and audio, shows the class in their shows. The jocks used to say they were, "Clean as the Board of Health," thanks to the Tops svelte suits, and cool dance moves. Now you can see them then for yourself. @therealdonrocks

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