Motown legend was one
of the great voices of his time.
By Fred Mills
It was that voice – heard in such hits as “Reach Out (I’ll
Be There)”, “I Can’t Help Myself” and, most profoundly and achingly, “Standing
In the Shadows of Love – that you think of when you think of the Four Tops and
the soul legends’ Motown heyday. That voice belonged to Levi Stubbs, and he
died today in his longtime home of Detroit
following a protracted illness. He was
“He had one of the most prolific and identifiably
voices in American history,” the Motown Alumni Association’s Billy J.
Wilson told Billboard.com. “It’s a deep loss, to the entire Motown family
and to the world.” Stubbs, added Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr., “was the
greatest interpreter of songs I’ve ever heard.”
Read the Billboard article for more tributes.
I recall as a child laying in my bed at night, my tiny A.M.
transistor radio radio under my pillow so my parents wouldn’t realize I was
still awake and listening to the radio. When a Motown song came on, and in
particular a Four Tops or Temptations number, it was like getting a jolt of
electricity, and in the many years since I’ve never lost that feeling. To this
day I go numb when “Standing In The Shadows Of Love” comes over the oldies
airwaves, or cues up on one of my mixtapes.
Stubbs and his voice, then, played a huge role in shaping my
musical tastes, and will always owe him a great debt. R.I.P., sir.
[Top: Levi Stubbs pictured, left, along with Renaldo Benson and Abdul
Fakir of the Four Tops]