Friday, October 17, 2008

RIP Levi Stubbs

The Four Tops - Don't Let Him Take Your Love From Me

I have just learned from Colin Dilnot that Levi Stubbs, longtime lead singer of the Four Tops, has died at age 70. Today's selection is the only MP3 of the group I have here at work, but it's a cooking groover that kicked off a recent podcast. The song had been recorded previously by both Jimmy Ruffin and (with switched genders, of course) Gladys Knight & The Pips, but Stubbs' shouted lead, fine support by the Tops and a nice funky groove makes this 1969 version my favorite.

The Four Tops headlined the Homecoming gala at my college my freshman year, and after the show my friend Norman and I slipped through the back hallways of our college's arts center and ran into the Tops, in their street clothes, heading out of their dressing room. Obie Benson had already headed out the door, so Norman and I got to talk briefly with Stubbs, Duke Fakir and Lawrence Payton. I remember telling Duke in response to a comment he'd made onstage about a song maybe being from some people's "crib days" that my mom played their records all the time when I was a kid. "Your mama's hip," he replied. I got autographs of the three men and then I watched them get into their limo and depart. I went back to my dorm feeling like a million bucks because I had met THE FOUR TOPS in person. Now with Levi's passing, only Duke Fakir remains as a living member of the group's classic lineup. I'll have to pull that program out of my souvenirs file this evening and consider that. RIP Levi.

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