The Four Tops started their musical career as the Four Aims at a house party in Detroit in 1954. Members included
Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton. They changed the group’s name to the
Four Tops to avoid confusion with a popular group of the day, the Ames Brothers. A smooth lounge act, the Tops stuck
to standards and ballads and recorded for at least four other record companies before Berry Gordy signed them to
Motown in 1963.
Their breakthrough hit, “Baby I Need Your Loving,” was produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1964, and was followed
by greater success with “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” in 1965, the Tops’ first #1 hit. Other hits were
released during this time period, including “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over)” and
“Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever.” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” released in 1966, was the group’s biggest Motown hit.
It could also be considered the Four Tops’ theme song, as it musically expressed the feelings of solidarity and brotherly
love group members felt for one another.
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Motown hits continued through the remainder of the 1960s, with releases that included “Standing in the Shadows of Love”
and “Bernadette,” both of which placed well on the R&B and pop charts.
Like other Motown artists, the Four Tops occupy a place of honor among the highest stratum of rhythm and blues royalty.
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, the Tops also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
and were ranked #79 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.