FOUR TOPS FACTS:
Members: Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Roquel Payton, Theo Peoples, Ronnie McNeir
Genre: R&B, Soul
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Albums: Four Tops (1964); Four Tops' Second Album (1965); On Top (1966); On Broadway (1967); Reach Out (1967); Yesterday's Dreams (1968); The Four Tops Now! (1969); Soul Spin (1969); Still Waters Run Deep (1970); Changing Times (1970); The Magnificent 7 (1970); The Return of the Magnificent 7 (1971); Dynamite! (1971); Nature Planned It (1972); Back Where I Belong (1983); Magic (1985); Christmas Here With You (1995); The Ultimate Collection (1997); Lost & Found: Breaking Through (1999)
Awards: Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
Hits: "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)," "Reach Out I'll Be There," "Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)," "When She Was My Girl"
Other: The original group line-up performed from 1953 to 1997.
It's hard to think of Motown without thinking of the Four Tops. The quartet has been a mainstay in the genre since 1953, and although several members have passed away over time, the band remains among the most legendary acts of the last 50 years. With smooth vocals and lovable lyrics, the Four Tops continue to be fan favorites.
The band's original lineup consisted of four high school friends, Levi Stubbs, Duke Fakir, Obie Benson and Lawrence Payton. They began performing at local events, but by the early 1960s they signed a record contract and found themselves in the middle of one of the most significant musical movements in American history. Though they started out as backup singers, it would not be long before they made a name for themselves.
In 1964, the Four Tops released the song "Baby I Need Your Loving." The tune was an instant hit and reached number 11 on the Billboard pop charts in the United States. It gained considerable airplay on some of the most listened to radio stations in the country, and jump started their career.
By 1965, the Four Tops were on the verge of making it big, and after their song "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" they did. The single was their first number one hit and has remained one of their most well-known songs. The tune has been covered by numerous other artists and was just the first in a long line of popular songs.
Over the next several years, the Four Tops scored a number of top 10 hits including "It's the Same Old Song" and "Loving You is Sweeter than Ever." However, it was 1966s "Reach Out I'll Be There" which cemented their place in Motown history. The song is often considered to be one of the best singles from the era and was a number one hit on the pop charts.
Though the popularity of Motown slowed throughout the '80s, the Four Tops were still a considerable draw for audiences years later. During much of the '90s they turned their attention toward performing and touring, much to the delight of fans. Though only one of the original four remains (Duke Fakir), the group occupies a place in music history that will never shrink, and their music remains as timeless as ever.