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giovedì 1 settembre 2016

Four Tops 1964/1972

Four Tops

I Four Tops sono un quartetto statunitense vocale, il cui repertorio include brani doo-wop, jazz, soul, R&B, disco, e showtunes. Fondati a Detroit, inizialmente con il nome The Four Aims, il principale cantante Levi Stubbs, insieme a Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson e Lawrence Payton sono rimasti in attività per quattro decenni.
Nel 1999 sono stati inseriti nella Vocal Group Hall of Fame.


I Four Tops furono uno dei gruppi che aiutarono a definire il riconoscibile stile musicale della Motown degli anni sessanta. Insieme a The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, e The Supremes, i Four Tops erano soprattutto famosi dato che il cantante, Stubbs, era un baritono, mentre la maggior parte degli altri gruppi avevano un tenore.
Il gruppo ebbe due singoli che arrivarono in vetta alla Billboard Hot 100: I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) per due settimane nel 1965 e Reach Out I'll Be There, entrambe scritte come quasi tutti i loro lavori, dal team di compositori Holland-Dozier-Holland. Nel 1972, i Four Tops passarono alla ABC Records, con cui continuarono a registrare dischi fino alla fine degli anni settanta. In seguito il gruppo ha spesso cambiato casa discografica, ed attualmente è sotto contratto per la Universal Music Group.
Nel 1997, dopo la morte di Lawrence Payton, il gruppo continuò ad esibirsi con tre elementi, cambiando provvisoriamente il proprio nome in The Tops,, fino al momento in cui Theo Peoples (ex componente dei The Temptations) fu reclutato come quarto componente. Nel 2000 Ronnie McNeir si unì al gruppo in sostituzione di Stubbs, malato di cuore. Nel 2005, Roquel Peyton (figlio di Lawrence), prese il posto di Renaldo Benson morto di cancro.
Dal 2006, Fakir, McNeir, Payton, e Peoples compongono l'attuale formazione dei Four Tops. Dopo la morte di Levi Stubbs avvenuta nel 2008, Fakir è l'unico membro originale del gruppo ancora in vita.


  • Abdul "Duke" Fakir (Detroit, 26 dicembre 1935)
  • Lawrence Roquel Payton Jr.
  • Theo Peoples (St. Louis, 24 gennaio)
  • Ronnie McNeir (Camden, 14 dicembre 1949)

Membri del passato

  • Levi Stubbs (Detroit, 17 giugno 1936 - 17 ottobre 2008)
  • Renaldo "Obie" Benson (Detroit, 14 giugno 1937 – 1º luglio 2005)
  • Lawrence Payton (Detroit, 2 marzo 1938 - 20 giugno 1997)


Pubblicazioni della Motown
  • 1964: The Four Tops (UK #2)
  • 1965: Four Tops' Second Album (US #20)
  • 1966: Four Tops Live! (US #17; UK #4)
  • 1966: Four Tops On Top (UK #9)
  • 1967: Four Tops' Hits (UK #1)
  • 1967: Reach Out (US #14; UK #6)
  • 1968: Yesterday's Dreams
  • 1968: Four Tops' Greatest Hits (UK #1)
  • 1969: The Four Tops Now
  • 1969: Soul Spin
  • 1970: Still Waters Run Deep (US #21)
  • 1970: Changing Times
  • 1970: The Magnificent 7 (con The Supremes)
  • 1971: The Return of the Magnificent 7 (con The Supremes)
  • 1971: Dynamite! (con The Supremes)
  • 1971: Mac Arthur Park
  • 1972: Nature Planned It
Pubblicazioni della ABC
  • 1972: Keeper of the Castle (US #33)
  • 1973: Main Street People
  • 1974: Meeting the Minds
  • 1974: Live & in Concert
  • 1975: Night Lights Harmony
  • 1976: Catfish
  • 1977: The Show Must Go On
  • 1978: At The Top
Pubblicazioni della Casablanca
  • 1981: Tonight! (US #37)
  • 1982: One More Mountain
Pubblicazioni della Motown
  • 1983: Back where I belong
  • 1985: Magic
  • 1986: Hot Nights
  • 1999: Lost & Found: Breaking Through
Pubblicazioni della Arista
  • 1988: Indestructible

The Four Tops tijdens het Grand Gala du Disque Populaire 1968 

The Four Tops are an American vocal quartet from Detroit, Michigan who helped to define the city's Motown sound of the 1960s. The group's repertoire has included soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, doo-wop, jazz, and show tunes.
Founded as The Four Aims, lead singer Levi Stubbs, and groupmates Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton remained together for over four decades, having gone from 1953 until 1997 without a change in personnel.
The Four Tops were among a number of groups, including the Miracles, the Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Temptations, and the Supremes, who established the Motown Sound around the world during the 1960s. They were notable for having Stubbs, a baritone, as their lead singer, whereas most male/mixed vocal groups of the time were fronted by a tenor.
The group was the main male vocal group for the highly successful songwriting and production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland, who crafted a stream of hit singles on Motown. These included two Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits for the Tops: "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" in 1965 and "Reach Out I'll Be There" in 1966. After Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown in 1967, the Four Tops were assigned to a number of producers, primarily Frank Wilson, but generally with less success.
When Motown left Detroit in 1972 to move to Los Angeles, California, the Tops stayed in Detroit but signed a new recording deal with ABC Records' Dunhill imprint. Recording mainly in Los Angeles, they continued to have chart singles into the late 1970s, including the million-seller, "Ain't No Woman", their second release on Dunhill, produced by Steve Barri and composers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter.
In the 1980s, the Four Tops recorded for Casablanca Records, Arista Records and Motown, returning to that label on two occasions for brief stays. Apart from their Indestructible album (owned by Sony Music Entertainment), Universal Music Group controls the rights to their entire post-1963 catalog (through various mergers and acquisitions), as well as their 1956 single, "Could It Be You".
A change of line-up was finally forced upon the group when Lawrence Payton died on June 20, 1997. The group initially continued as a three-piece under the name The Tops, before Theo Peoples (formerly of The Temptations) was recruited as the new fourth member. Peoples eventually took over the role of lead singer when Stubbs suffered a stroke in 2000, with Ronnie McNeir then joining the group. On July 1, 2005, Benson died of lung cancer with Payton's son Roquel Payton replacing him. Levi Stubbs died on October 17, 2008.
Fakir, McNeir, Payton, and Harold "Spike" Bonhart, who replaced Peoples in 2011, are still performing together as the Four Tops. The 2016 Four Tops included Fakir as the only surviving founding member of the original group and Payton as a second-generation member.


Early years

All four members of the group began their careers together while they were high school students in Detroit. At the insistence of their friends, Pershing High students Levi Stubbs and Abdul "Duke" Fakir performed with Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton from Northern High at a local birthday party. The quartet decided to remain together and christened themselves The Four Aims. With the help of Payton's songwriter cousin Roquel Davis, The Aims signed to Chess Records in 1956, changing their name to Four Tops to avoid confusion with The Ames Brothers. Over the next seven years, The Tops endured unsuccessful tenures at Chess, Red Top, Riverside Records and Columbia Records. Without any hit records to their name, The Tops toured frequently, developing a polished stage presence and an experienced supper club act, as well as supporting Billy Eckstine. In 1963, Berry Gordy, Jr., who had worked with Roquel Davis as a songwriter in the late-1950s, convinced The Tops to join the roster of his growing Motown record company.

Joining Motown

During their early Motown years, the Four Tops recorded jazz standards for the company's Workshop label. In addition, they filled in time by singing backup on Motown singles such as The Supremes' "Run, Run, Run". The Tops also did backing vocals for Martha and the Vandellas on the 1966 hit "My Baby Loves Me".
In 1964, Motown's main songwriting/production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland created a complete instrumental track without any idea of what to do with it. They decided to craft the song as a more mainstream pop song for the Four Tops and proceeded to create "Baby I Need Your Loving" from the lyric-less instrumental track. On its mid-1964 release, "Baby I Need Your Loving" made it to #11 on the Billboard pop charts. However, the song proved to be much more popular on trend-setting radio stations in key U.S. markets and has since grown in popularity over the years to be one of the group's classic tracks. After the single's success, the Tops were pulled away from their jazz material and began recording more material in the vein of "Baby I Need Your Loving".
The first follow-up single, "Without the One You Love (Life's Not Worth While)", just missed both the pop and R&B Top 40 charts, but "Ask the Lonely", written and produced by Motown A&R head Mickey Stevenson with Ivy Hunter, was a Top 30 pop hit and a Top 10 R&B hit in early 1965. From there, the group really began to make their mark.


After scoring their first #1 hit, "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" in June 1965, the Four Tops began a long series of successful hit singles. Among the first wave of these hits were the Top 10 "It's the Same Old Song", "Something About You", "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)", and "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever". Four Tops records often represented the epitome of the Motown Sound: simple distinctive melodies and rhymes, call-and-response lyrics, and the musical contributions of studio band, The Funk Brothers.
Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote most of Levi Stubbs' vocals in a tenor range, near the top of his range, in order to get a sense of strained urgency in his gospel preacher-inspired leads. In addition, H-D-H used additional background vocals from female background vocalists, The Andantes on many of the songs, to add a high end to the low-voiced harmony of The Tops. Ivy Hunter's "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" was one of a few exceptions.
August 1966 brought the release of the Four Tops' all-time biggest hit and one of the most popular Motown songs ever. "Reach Out I'll Be There" hit #1 on the U.S. pop and R&B charts and UK chart and soon became The Tops' signature song. It was almost immediately followed by the similar-sounding "Standing in the Shadows of Love"; its depiction of heartbreak reflecting the opposite of the optimism in "Reach Out". It was another Top 10 hit for the Tops.
 Performing at New Rochelle High School (NY) c. 1967

The four tops - I can't help myself (sugar pie, honey bunch) - Live HQ ...

▶ 2:44
25 feb 2008 - Caricato da Fredo Zico
The four tops - I can't help myself (sugar pie, honey bunch) - Live HQ ..... Difficult choice cuz all their stuff ...

Four Tops - Baby I Need Your Loving (1966) HQ 0815007 - YouTube
03 apr 2010 - Caricato da Irma0815007
HQ-Video. Baby I Need Your Lovin' . Four Tops Hit und Motown-Classic, released 1964.

The Four Tops- (Reach Out) I'll Be There (1966) - YouTube
01 giu 2011 - Caricato da Isolation74
The Four Tops performing Reach Out in 1966. ... The Four Tops- (Reach Out) I'll Be There (1966 ...

Four Tops - It's The Same Old Song (1966) HQ 0815007 - YouTube
03 apr 2010 - Caricato da Jette0815007
HQ-Video. Four Tops - It's The Same Old Song, released 1965.

The Four Tops- (Reach Out) I'll Be There (1966) - YouTube
01 giu 2011 - Caricato da Isolation74
The Four Tops performing Reach Out in 1966. ... The Four Tops- (Reach Out) I'll Be There (1966 ...


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