Saturday, October 18, 2008

R.I.P. Levi Stubbs (1936-2008)

I just learned yesterday that Levi Stubbs, the lead singer of the Four Tops, passed away. He was 72 years old. If the Temptations was my favorite Motown group, The Four Tops had to be my second favorite. When I think of all of the great voices that Motown produced... Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Dennis Edwards, David Ruffin, Smokey Robinson not withstanding... the emotional, dramatic, and pleading voice of Levi Stubbs stood out above them all as the one that had the most profound effect on me.

The Four Tops

Motown records were dramatic because they all told wonderful stories of loves ups and downs and the backing band, the Funk Brothers, punctuated those stories so well that, listening to a Motown record was akin to watching a western or a detective movie. It was a very moving and emotional experience.

"Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)"

Levi Stubb's voice was tailor made for that sound. He had a man's man kind of voice and when he poured his heart out on my favorite Four Top's song, the wonderful Holland-Dozier-Holland masterpiece "Shake Me, Wake Me (When it's Over)", I'm telling you I felt a sense of fear and dread in my soul. It felt like I was being cheated on in a relationship myself... and I was all of 8 years old and hadn't been in a relationship yet!

There was nothing weak about Levi's voice and it has been silenced now... but, it will live on in the timeless recordings made by the Four Tops. I don't know what it is about this year... it seems like we are losing so many greats. Here was another great one.


James Perkins said...

I loved all of that great Motown Music too..I'm 49 and it will always be a part of my childhood.
That and of course,Philly International. I was very sad to hear about Levi Stubb's passing.
Great Post Keith.

Oscar said...

A lot of helpful data for myself!
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