Monday, June 6, 2011

The Four Tops--I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)--1965

Levi Stubbs was born this day in 1936...he died in 2008 at the age of 72....

The Four Aims having become The Four Tops in 1956 had been bouncing around the supper club circuit for years. They signed a contract with Chess records in 56 (which precipitated the name change), but had gone nowhere, moves to Red Top and Riverside produced similar results. They were playing the best clubs in the country, but couldn't make that major breakthrough. In 64' they signed with Motown and after a bit of time experimenting on Berry Gordy's experimental label Workshop Jazz, they settled in with the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team and things began to pop.

"Baby, I Need Your Lovin" was the first charting song for them in 1964, and "I Can't Help Myself" would bring them a #1 hit., they would reach the top twenty 16 more times before the last, "Used to be My Girl" in 1981. During that time Levi would refuse to have his name in top billing like Diana Ross or Smokey Robinson would do, nor would he opt for a solo carrier choosing to remain true to his fellow mates. He would remain their lead singer until a stroke in 2000 put an end to his career.

For those younger, one might also remember Stubbs as the voice of Audrey II in the 1986 movie "Little Shop of Horrors"....


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