ABOUT TRUST ONLINE
The Most Trusted Agency On The Web For Booking Big Name Entertainment Since 1996...
Use the Booking Entertainment.com agency to book The Four Tops for your corporate event, private party, fundraiser, college, fair or festival. Submit an Entertainment Request Form and an agent will reply within 24 hours.
The Four Tops: Levi Stubbs, Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie"
Benson, and Lawrence Payton have been together for 43 years, constantly
producing songs about love, happiness, and romantic heartbreak in the
quintessential Detroit sound/Motown tradition. No other popular quartet has
stayed together with original personnel intact for as long as the legendary Four
Tops. And no other group associated with the American sixties sound has
succeeded in remaining as fresh, joyful, lively, and timely. The Four Tops have
created a special magic that continues to delight audiences of all ages and
nationalities, and their reign as the Grand Gentleman of Rock and Roll is far
The Four Tops have a list of top 10 hits, many of them gold records and number 1 chart-toppers, to their credit. These include "Baby, I Need Your Loving," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugarpie, Honeybunch)," "It's the Same Old Song," "Reach Out (I'll Be There)," "Bernadette," "Walk Away, Rene," "Standing in the Shadows of Love," "Shake Me, Wake Me," and "Still Waters Run Deep." They have recorded thirty-five albums during their illustrious career - twenty-one of them for Motown which reaffirms their power, punch, and enormous appeal.
The Four Tops' Levi, Duke, Obie, and Lawrence were teenage school friends in their native Detroit when they joined together in a singing group called the Aims. It was the mid-1950's and their early career was spent largely in jazz and R&B circles. By the time they had recorded their first single for Chess Records in 1956, The Aims were performing as an opening act or as backup singers with artists such as Della Resse, Brook Benton, Billy Eckstine, Count Basie, Betty Carter, Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, and Flip Wilson.
Levi's cousin, the great Jackie Wilson, was so impressed with the Aims' mellow harmonies and naturally-smooth style, that he invited them to perform with him on a regular basis, which they did for several years. Times were hard and the group's first years were difficult, typified by heavy travel and light money. But the spirit which has allowed them to stay together for more than three decades was already in place. They were never greedy, never riddled by egotism or impatience, and never lost sight of what they wanted to do most: sing!
It was also in 1956 that The Aims became "reincarnated." It had been suggested that they might be confused with the then-popular Ames Brothers. Since they had chosen their name because they were "aiming for the top," they changed it and without realizing that they were giving name to a legend, became The Four Tops.
It was 1963 when The Four Tops were truly discovered and signed by Berry Gordy for Motown Records. Their first single was "Baby, I Need Your Loving," and as the song skyrocketed up the charts, The Four Tops established themselves as the Crowned Princes of Motown. Life during Motown's heyday was both exhilarating and exhausting. It was there that their style was honed to perfection and blended with the spectacular songwriting team of Holland/Dozier/Holland.
In addition to their own records, members of the group often sang informal back-up for other Motown artists. They would often be just "hanging out" at the companies studios, when someone would pop into the lobby and ask "is there a tenor out here?" During the peak years at Motown, The Four Tops toured and/or recorded with nearly ever other artist on the label, including Stevie Wonder , Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Marvelettes, The Elgins, The Spinners, Tammi Terrell, Junior Walker and Edwin Starr.
The Four Tops' career and the non-stop hits continued and The Four Tops appeared in a wide variety of concert and club settings, from the star-studded shows at New York's famous Apollo Theatre and those at the Brooklyn Fox hosted by New York disc jockey, Murray The K, to the Grand Ole Opry and Las Vegas' most prestigious lounges. They went beyond the realm of the impressive Motown roster to share the stage with Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Patti Labelle, Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Carpenters, Jay and the Americans, The Four Seasons, and The Beach Boys .
Although the British Invasion spearheaded by The Beatles knocked countless American artists out of the U.S. music scene (some for years, some forever), The Four Tops were among a handful of American superstars who not only held strong, but contributed just as much as did the English to the tone and temper of the times and the musical/cultural changes which evolved. Interestingly, it was Brian Epstein, the Beatle's guiding force, who organized The Four Tops' first European tour and the group partied and performed with all of the legends of British Rock.
The Four Tops still cause excitement. Watching an audience at a Four Tops concert today is an exciting reminder of the pleasure they have given their fans for years. Their audience is a complete racial blend and spans an impressive age range. It includes those in their 50's who are the group's contemporaries; baby-boomers in their 40's; a new generation of people in their 20's and 30's who clearly long for an era they were too young to experience; and little kids (accompanied by the older generations) who are being exposed to the songs their parents loved as children. There is always a sense, as The Four Tops go through their early hits as well as new material, that the social unity which politics consistently fails to achieve, is a foregone conclusion in the atmosphere of this happy music.
The Four Tops still live in Detroit, a fact which each man feels has contributed to the naturalness and humanity of their sound, and of their success. Today, they are leaders in their community, active in civic projects and involved with Detroit's renaissance. All are married and have children, and all of the wives and kids are close friends - a complete, extended, Four Tops family. The Four Tops continues to tour, record and set their sights on new professional goals. But mostly, they do what they always wanted to do. The Four Tops just keep on singing.
Since the late-1980s, The Four Tops have focused on touring and live performances, only recording one album, 1995's Christmas Here With You, released on Motown. On June 20, 1997, 59-year-old Laurence Payton died of a heart attack, after singing for forty-four years with the Four Tops, who, unlike many Motown groups, never had a single lineup change until then. At first, Levi Stubbs, Obie Benson, and Duke Fakir toured as a trio called The Tops, in 1998 they recruited former Temptation Theo Peoples to join the act to restore the group to a quartet. By the turn of the century, Stubbs was becoming ill from cancer, and Ronnie McNair was recruited to fill in the Laurence Payton position, with Peoples stepping into Stubbs' shoes as the lead singer of The Four Tops while Payton's son Roquel replaced an ill Obie Benson, who later died on July 1, 2005.
The Four Tops was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.