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Levi Stubbs, R.I.P.

By admin Published: October 17, 2008

(Photo from

You may not know the name, but you know the voice. Stubbs, who has died at the age of 72, was the lead singer in the Four Tops -- as well as the voice of Audrey II in the movie version of "Little Shop of Horrors." The man propelled the Tops on songs like "Baby I Need Your Loving," "Ask the Lonely," "I Can't Help Myself," "Reach Out I'll Be There," "Standing in the Shadows of Love," "Bernadette," "Walk Away Renee" ... To be sure, the Tops covered other people's songs, and other people covered the Tops. And the Tops were not Stubbs alone -- the harmonies and the back-and-forth between lead and backing vocals were essential -- but I can't imagine something like "Bernadette" without Stubbs. The obit I linked to notes that, while Stubbs retired in 2000, the group -- now down to one original member -- still performs. But, as the obit rightly argues, "it can be said that the group ceased to exist in any appreciable form once Levi Stubbs' robust baritone no longer led the charge."

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