June 6th marks the birth anniversary of one of the greatest R&B singers ever…Levi Stubbs of the 4 Tops. Born in 1936, Levi met his fellow group members while they were still in high school. They formed in 1954, calling themselves The Four Aims. They changed their name to the Four Tops after signing with Chess Records in 1956.
Motown signed them in 1963, after Berry Gordy saw them perform on the Jack Paar Show. The songwriting team Holland-Dozier and Holland was assigned to them, and The Tops finally scored their first hit a year later, with Baby I Need Your Loving. Levi Stubbs always refused to have separate “star” billing, and also turned down several offers
for a solo career out of loyalty to his bandmates. And what loyalty!
The original members of the 4 Tops were together until 1997 when Lawrence Payton died. Levi suffered a stroke in 2000 which ended his performing career. He was married to his wife Clineice for 48 years, and died in 2008 at the age of 72. Here are Levi Stubbs and the 4 Tops at their best, performing Bernadette on TV!