Four Tops

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Four Tops
Grand Gala du Disque . The Four Tops, Bestanddeelnr 921-1504.jpg
The Four Tops in 1968
Background information
Also known as Four Tops, the Four Aims, the Tops
Origin Detroit, Michigan Flag of Michigan.svg
Genres Soul, R&B, jazz, [[Rock and roll}rock n roll]], pop
Years active 1953–present
Labels Chess Records
Red Top
Members Abdul "Duke" Fakir
Ronnie McNeir
Lawrence Payton, Jr.
Harold Bonhart
Past members Levi Stubbs
Renaldo "Obie" Benson
Lawrence Payton
Theo Peoples

The Four Tops' story is one of longevity and togetherness: these Motown legends teamed up in high school and spent over four decades without a single personnel change. In between, they became one of the top-tier acts on a label with no shortage of talent, ranking with the Temptations and the Supremes as Motown's most consistent hitmakers. Where many other R&B vocal groups spotlighted a tenor-range lead singer, the Four Tops were fronted by deep-voiced Levi Stubbs, who never cut a solo record outside of the group. Stubbs had all the grit of a pleading, wailing, gospel-trained soul belter, but at the same time, the Tops' creamy harmonies were smooth enough for Motown's radio-friendly pop-soul productions. From 1964-1967, the Four Tops recorded some of the Holland-Dozier-Holland team's greatest compositions, including "Reach Out, I'll Be There," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," "Standing in the Shadows of Love," "Bernadette," and "Baby I Need Your Loving." The group's fortunes took a downturn when their chief source of material left the label, but they enjoyed a renaissance in the early '70s, which saw them switching to the ABC-Dunhill imprint. Regardless of commercial fortunes, they kept on performing and touring, scoring the occasional comeback hit.

The Four Tops began life in 1953 (some accounts say 1954), when all of the members were attending Detroit-area high schools. Levi Stubbs and Abdul "Duke" Fakir went to Pershing, and met Northern students Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton at a friend's birthday party, where the quartet members first sang together. Sensing an immediate chemistry, they began rehearsing together and dubbed themselves the Four Aims. Payton's cousin Roquel Davis, a budding songwriter who sometimes sang with the group during its early days, helped them get an audition with Chess Records in 1956. Although Chess was more interested in Davis, who went on to become Berry Gordy's songwriting partner, they also signed the Four Aims, who became the Four Tops to avoid confusion with the Ames Brothers. The Four Tops' lone Chess single, "Kiss Me Baby," was an unequivocal flop, and the group moved on to similarly brief stints at Red Top and Riverside. They signed with Columbia in 1960 and were steered in a more upscale supper-club direction, singing jazz and pop standards. This too failed to break them, although they did tour with Billy Eckstine during this period.

In 1963, the Four Tops signed with longtime friend Berry Gordy's new label, specifically the jazz-oriented Workshop subsidiary. They completed a debut LP, to be called Breaking Through, but Gordy scrapped it and switched their style back to R&B, placing them on Motown with the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team. After a full decade in existence, the Four Tops finally notched their first hit in 1964 with "Baby I Need Your Loving," which just missed the pop Top Ten. Early 1965 brought the follow-up ballad hit "Ask the Lonely," and from then on there was no stopping them. "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" went all the way to number one that spring, and the follow-up "It's the Same Old Song" reached the Top Five. The hits continued into 1966, with "Something About You" "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)," and "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" all coming in succession. The fall of 1966 brought the group's masterpiece in the form of the virtual soul symphony "Reach Out, I'll Be There"; not only did it become their second number one pop hit, it also wound up ranking as the creative peak of the group's career and one of Motown's finest singles ever. During this period, the Tops also earned a reputation as one of Motown's best live acts, having previously honed their performances for years before hitting the big time.

The Four Tops kicked off 1967 with the dramatic Top Ten smash "Standing in the Shadows of Love," which was followed by the Top Five "Bernadette." "7-Rooms of Gloom" and "You Keep Running Away" reached the Top 20, but toward the end of the year, Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown over a financial dispute, which didn't bode well for the Four Tops' impressive hit streak. Their next two hits, 1968's "Walk Away Renee" and "If I Were a Carpenter," were both covers of well-known recent songs (by the Left Banke and Tim Hardin, respectively), and while both made the Top 20, they heralded a rough couple of years when top-drawer material was in short supply. They enjoyed a resurgence in 1970 under producer Frank Wilson, who helmed a hit cover of the Tommy Edwards pop standard "It's All in the Game" and a ballad co-written by Smokey Robinson, "Still Water (Love)." The Tops also recorded with the post-Diana Ross Supremes, scoring a duet hit with a cover of "River Deep, Mountain High" in 1971.

Tonight When Motown moved its headquarters to Los Angeles in 1972, the Four Tops parted ways with the company, choosing to remain in their hometown of Detroit. They signed with ABC-Dunhill and were teamed with producers/songwriters Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, who did their best to re-create the group's trademark Motown sound. The immediate result was "Keeper of the Castle," the Four Tops' first Top Ten hit in several years. They followed it in early 1973 with "Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)," a gold-selling smash that proved to be their final Top Five pop hit. That year they also recorded the theme song to the film Shaft in Africa, "Are You Man Enough." Several more R&B chart hits followed over the next few years, with the last being 1976's "Catfish"; after a final ABC album in 1978, the Tops largely disappeared from sight before resurfacing on Casablanca in 1981. Incredibly, their first single, "When She Was My Girl," went all the way to number one on the R&B charts, just missing the pop Top Ten. The accompanying album, Tonight!, became their last to hit the Top 40. The Four Tops rejoined Motown in 1983, the year of the company's 25th anniversary, and toured extensively with the Temptations. They also recorded a couple albums of new material that failed to sell well, and wound up leaving Motown amid confusion over proper musical direction. Meanwhile, Levi Stubbs provided the voice for Audrey the man-eating plant in the film version of Little Shop of Horrors. The Four Tops next caught on with Arista, where in 1988 they scored their last Top 40 pop hit, the aptly titled "Indestructible." The Four Tops were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and continued to tour the oldies circuit. In 1997, Lawrence Payton passed away due to cancer of the liver, which proved to be the only thing that could break up the Four Tops. After some consideration, the remaining members hired Theo Peoples to take Payton's place on tour.

The Four Tops Career Awards

The Four Tops have won many awards during their long and distinguished career, including the following:

After similar releases in the Motown "Definitive DVD" series on The Miracles, The Temptations, The Supremes, and Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops' Motown Definitive DVD, Reach Out, was finally released on November 11, 2008.

The Four Tops received The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the 51st Annual Grammy Awards. Speaking in January 2010 to noted UK soul writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning Blues & Soul, Fakir confirmed plans for the "new" Four Tops to release a new album, while revealing his personal feelings about the current line-up: "To me the new group is like an extension of the family, because we've all been very close for so many years... Which makes it easier for ME, because I truly miss Lawrence, "Obie" AND Levi - I'd be lying if I said I didn't - and not one of them could EVER be replaced. But, you know, these new guys do perform well enough for the people to still enjoy the shows and still enjoy the music. So for me, it kinda makes it bittersweet. Because, at the end of the day, the legacy is still going on and I'm very pleased that it IS!" The Four Tops sang the National Anthem before the start of game 5 for the 2011 ALCS between the Texas Rangers & Detroit Tigers on October 13, 2011 in Detroit, MI. When singing the last line of "The Star Spangled Banner", "...and the home of the brave", they quickly sang the words "Ain't No country Like the One I Got", before singing the last word, "brave". The Four Tops were honored with an induction into the R&B Music Hall of Fame at the Inaugural ceremony held at Cleveland State University's Waetejen Auditorium on Saturday August 17, 2013.


main|Four Tops discography

Studio Albums

Four Tops (1964)

The Four Tops
The Four Tops
  1. Baby I Need Your Loving
  2. Without the One You Love
  3. Where Did You Go
  4. Ask the Lonely
  5. Your Love Is Amazing
  6. Sad Souvenirs
  7. Don't Turn Away
  8. Tea House in China Town
  9. Left with a Broken Heart
  10. Love Has Gone
  11. Call on Me

Four Tops' Second Album (1965)

Four Tops' Second Album
Four Tops' Second Album
  1. I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)
  2. Love Feels Like Fire
  3. Is There Anything That I Can Do
  4. Pete
  5. Something About You
  6. It's the Same Old Song
  7. Helpless
  8. Just As Long As You Need Me
  9. Darling, I Hum Our Song
  10. I Like Everything About You
  11. Since You've Been Gone
  12. Stay in My Lonely Arms
  13. I'm Grateful

On Top (1966)

On Top
On Top
  1. I Got a Feeling
  2. Brenda
  3. Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
  4. Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)
  5. Until You Love Someone
  6. There's No Love Left
  7. Matchmaker, Matchmaker
  8. Michelle
  9. In the Still of the Night
  10. Bluesette
  11. Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars
  12. Then

Reach Out (1967)

Reach Out
Reach Out
  1. Reach Out I'll Be There
  2. Walk Away Renee
  3. 7-Rooms of Gloom
  4. If I Were a Carpenter
  5. Last Train to Clarksville
  6. I'll Turn to Stone
  7. I'm a Believer
  8. Standing in the Shadows of Love
  9. Bernadette
  10. Cherish
  11. Wonderful Baby
  12. What Else Is There to Do (But Think About You)

Yesterday's Dreams (1968)

Yesterday's Dreams
Yesterday's Dreams
  1. Yesterday's Dreams
  2. Can't Seem to Get You Out of My Mind
  3. I'm in a Different World
  4. We've Got a Strong Love
  5. By the Time I Get to Phoenix
  6. Remember When
  7. Sunny
  8. Never My Love
  9. Daydream Believer
  10. Once Upon a Time
  11. The Sweetheart Tree
  12. A Place in the Sun

Four Tops Now! (1969)

Four Tops Now!
Four Tops Now!
  1. The Key
  2. What Is a Man
  3. My Past Just Crossed My Future
  4. Don't Let Him Take Your Love from Me
  5. Eleanor Rigby
  6. Little Green Apples
  7. Do What You Gotta Do
  8. MacArthur Park
  9. Don't Bring Back Memories
  10. Wish I Didn't Love You
  11. Opportunity Knock (For Me)
  12. The Fool on the Hill

Soul Spin (1969)

Soul Spin
Soul Spin
  1. Look Out Your Window
  2. Barbara's Boy
  3. Lost in a Pool of Red
  4. Got to Get You into My Life
  5. Stop the World
  6. Nothing
  7. This Guy's in Love with You
  8. Light My Fire
  9. Honey
  10. The Look of Love
  11. California Dreamin'

Still Waters Run Deep (1970)

Still Waters Run Deep
Still Waters Run Deep
  1. Still Water (Love)
  2. Reflections
  3. It's All in the Game
  4. Everybody's Talkin'
  5. Love Is the Answer
  6. I Wish I Were Your Mirror
  7. Elusive Butterfly
  8. Bring Me Together
  9. L.A. (My Town)
  10. Still Water (Peace)

Changing Times (1970)

Changing Times
Changing Times
  1. In These Changing Times
  2. Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)
  3. Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
  4. Right Before My Eyes
  5. I Almost Had Her (But She Got Away)
  6. Try to Remember
  7. Something's Tearing at the Edges of Time
  8. Sing a Song of Yesterday
  9. Medley: The Long and Winding Road/In These Changing Times

Nature Planned It (1972)

Nature Planned It
Nature Planned It
  1. I Am Your Man
  2. (It's the Way) Nature Planned It
  3. I'll Never Change
  4. She's an Understanding Woman
  5. I Can't Quit Your Love
  6. Walk with Me, Talk with Me, Darling
  7. Medley: Hey Man/We Got to Get You a Woman
  8. You Gotta Forget Him, Darling
  9. If You Let Me
  10. Happy (Is a Bumpy Road)
  11. How Will I Forget You

Keeper of the Castle (1972)

Keeper of the Castle
Keeper of the Castle
  1. Keeper of the Castle
  2. Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)
  3. Put a Little Love Away
  4. Turn On the Light of Your Love
  5. When Tonight Meets Tomorrow
  6. Love Music
  7. Remember What I Told You to Forget
  8. (I Think I Must Be) Dreamin'
  9. The Good Lord Knows
  10. Jubilee with Soul
  11. Love Makes You Human
  12. Keeper of the Castle (reprise)

Main Street People (1973)

Main Street People
Main Street People
  1. Main Street People (Intro)
  2. I Just Can't Get You Out of My Mind
  3. It Won't Be the First Time
  4. Sweet Understanding Love
  5. Am I My Brother's Keeper
  6. Are You Man Enough?
  7. Whenever There's Blue
  8. Too Little Too Late
  9. Peace of Mind
  10. One Woman Man
  11. Main Street People

Catfish (1976)

  1. Catfish
  2. Feel Free
  3. You Can't Hold Back on Love
  4. I Know You Like It
  5. Strung Out for Your Love
  6. Love Don't Come Easy
  7. Disco Daddy
  8. Look at My Baby

The Show Must Go On (1977)

The Show Must Go On
The Show Must Go On
  1. The Show Must Go On
  2. I Can't Live Without You
  3. Save It for a Rainy Day
  4. Runnin' from Your Love
  5. See the Real Me
  6. Love Is a Joy
  7. You'll Never Find a Better Man
  8. Candy

Tonight! (1981)

  1. When She Was My Girl
  2. Don't Walk Away
  3. Tonight I'm Gonna Love You All Over
  4. Who's Right, Who's Wrong
  5. Let Me Set You Free
  6. From a Distance
  7. Something to Remember
  8. All I Do

One More Mountain (1982)

One More Mountain
One More Mountain
  1. Sad Hearts
  2. One More Mountain to Climb
  3. Givin' It Up
  4. I Believe in You and Me
  5. I'm the One
  6. Keep On Lightin' My Fire
  7. Nobody's Gonna Love You Like I Do
  8. Dream On
  9. Whatever It Is

Hot Nights (1986)

Hot Nights
Hot Nights
  1. Hot Nights
  2. Red Hot Love
  3. I Believe in You and Me
  4. Let's Jam
  5. We Got Bus'ness
  6. This Is Love
  7. So Up for You
  8. Livin' It Up Too Much
  9. The Four of Us

Indestructible (1988)

  1. Indestructible
  2. Change of Heart
  3. If Ever a Love There Was
  4. The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine
  5. Next Time
  6. Loco in Acapulco
  7. Are You with Me?
  8. I'm Only Wounded
  9. When You Dance
  10. Let's Jam

Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got) (1991)

Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)
Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)
  1. Keeper of the Castle
  2. Are You Man Enough?
  3. Sweet Understanding Love
  4. Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)
  5. Medley: Love Music/Reach Out, I'll Be There/Standing in the Shadows of Love
  6. Baby I Need Your Loving
  7. All My Love
  8. I Just Can't Get You Out of My Mind
  9. Seven Lonely Nights
  10. We All Gotta Stick Together

Breaking Through (1999)

Breaking Through
Breaking Through
  1. This Can't Be Love
  2. On the Street Where You Live
  3. Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You
  4. Nice 'n' Easy
  5. Maybe Today
  6. Stranger on the Shore
  7. Young and Foolish
  8. Discovered
  9. I Left My Heart in San Francisco
  10. Fascinating Rhythm
  11. End of a Beautiful Friendship
  12. If My Heart Could Sing
  13. Can't Get Out of This Mood
  14. When I'm Alone I Cry
  15. Until I Met You
  16. I'm Falling for You
  17. Everyday I Have the Blues / Goin' to Chicago Blues
  18. I Could Have Danced All Night
  19. I'm Falling for You (live at the Apollo)


Other Songs

The songs listed below should be split into albums. Please remove this section once this has been done. (more information)
  1. Silent Night with Aretha Franklin
  2. Always and Forever
  3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  4. If You Don't Want My Love
  5. Just Walk Away Renee
  6. Little Drummer Boy
  7. My Way
  8. Papa Was A Rollin' Stone
  9. Reach Out, I'll Be There
  10. Ride Like the Wind
  11. The Christmas Song
  12. This Christmas
  13. White Christmas (featuring Aretha Franklin)
  14. Let's Make Love Now

Live Album

  1. Four Tops Live! 1966
  2. Live and In Concert 1974
  3. From the Heart: 50th Anniversary Celebration 2006
  4. Live at the Stardust 2007
  5. S.O.U.L. 2011 • The Four Tops


  1. Four Tops 1965
  2. Without the One You Love 1965
  3. Reach Out I'll Be There 1966
  4. Out I'll Be There (PRT)] ]1966
  5. Standing in the Shadow of Love 1966
  6. 7 - Rooms of Gloom 1967
  7. Bernadette 1967
  8. Bernadette (AUS) 1967
  9. Bernadette (PRT) 1967
  10. Four Top Hits 1967
  11. It's All in the Game 1970
  12. It's the Same Old Song 1970
  13. Soul Spin: I Can't Help Myself 1970
  14. 2 + 2, Vol. 7

Appears On

  1. Shaft in Africa1973 • Album • Johnny Pate
  2. Grease 2 1982 • Album • Various Artists
  3. Back to Basics1983 • Album • The Temptations
  4. The Big Chill 1984 • Album • Various Artists
  5. Through the Storm 1989 • Album • Aretha Franklin
  6. rHe Tracks of My Tears: The Best of Smokey Robinson 1990 • Compilation • Smokey Robinson
  7. George Clinton's Family Series: Testing Positive 4 the Funk 1993 • Compilation • George Clinton
  8. 40 Golden Motown Greats 1998 • Compilation • The Supremes
  9. The Supremes 2000 • Compilation • The Supremes
  10. The History of Rock 'n' Roll 2004 • Video • Various Artists
  11. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

2017 • Album • Carter Burwell

  1. The Supremes A' Go-Go Expanded Edition 2017 • Album • The Supremes


  1. The Four Tops Greatest Hits 1967
  2. Anthology 1974
  3. Motown's Greatest Hits 1992
  4. The Ultimate Collection 1997

Anthology: 50th Anniversary (2004)

Anthology: 50th Anniversary
Anthology: 50th Anniversary
Disc 1
  1. Baby I Need Your Loving
  2. Without the One You Love
  3. Ask the Lonely
  4. I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)
  5. It's the Same Old Song
  6. Something About You
  7. Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)
  8. Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
  9. Reach Out I'll Be There
  10. Standing in the Shadows of Love
  11. Bernadette
  12. I Got a Feeling
  13. 7-Rooms of Gloom
  14. I'll Turn to Stone
  15. You Keep Running Away
  16. Walk Away Renee
  17. If I Were a Carpenter
  18. Yesterday's Dreams
  19. I'm in a Different World
  20. What Is a Man?
  21. Don't Let Him Take Your Love from Me
  22. It's All in the Game
  23. Still Water (Love)
  24. River Deep-Mountain High by The Supremes & the Four Tops
  25. Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)
  26. In These Changing Times
  27. MacArthur Park
Disc 2
  1. A Simple Game
  2. I Can't Quit Your Love
  3. (It's the Way) Nature Planned It
  4. Keeper of the Castle
  5. Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)
  6. Are You Man Enough?
  7. Sweet Understanding Love
  8. I Just Can't Get You Out of My Mind
  9. One Chain Don't Make No Prison
  10. Midnight Flower
  11. Seven Lonely Nights
  12. We All Gotta Stick Together
  13. Catfish
  14. H.E.L.P.
  15. When She Was My Girl
  16. Tonight I'm Gonna Love You All Over
  17. I Believe in You and Me
  18. Back to School Again
  19. I Just Can't Walk Away
  20. Mean Green Mother from Outer Space by Levi Stubbs
  21. Indestructible

V/A Compilation

  1. Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971 1992
  2. Forrest Gump 1994
  3. Beg, Scream & Shout!: The Big Ol' Box of '60s Soul 1997
  4. Motown: The Classic Years 2000
  5. Can You Dig It? The '70s Soul Experience 2001
  6. Top of the Pops 1970 - 1974 2016
  7. Let It Be: Black America Sings Lennon, McCartney and Harrison2016
  8. 1967 Summer of Love 2017

Bootleg / Unauthorized

  1. Appears on: Motown Flies Jamaica Vol. 22008 • Various Artists
  2. Appears on: Time Fades Away / Where the Buffalo Roam - Original Soundtrack

• Neil Young