|Birth name||Levi Stubbles|
June 6, 1936|
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||October 17, 2008
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
|Associated acts||The Four Tops|
Levi Stubbles (June 6, 1936 – October 17, 2008), better known by the stage name Levi Stubbs, was an American baritone singer, best known as the lead vocalist of the Motown R&B group Four Tops. He was also a voice artist in film and animated television series, most famously having provided the voice of the alien plant Audrey II in the musical horror film Little Shop of Horrors, and Mother Brain in Captain N: The Game Master. Stubbs was admired by his peers for his impressive vocal range.
Berry Gordy said Friday."Levi was the greatest interpreter of songs I've ever heard." http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/18/local/me-stubbs18
"Levi Stubbs was one of the great voices of all times," former Motown label mate Smokey Robinson said. http://www.legacy.com/NS/Obituary.aspx?pid=118956865.
Gladys Knight remembered Stubbs as an immensely talented and kind man whom she had known since the 1950s. "We were family," she said. "Have you ever heard a voice that sounded like his? It was emotional. It was crisp, with energy and an edge." She said he was as good a person as he was a performer. "He was amazing, very unassuming," Knight said. "Very humble. So many artists don't like to share. He would hand you the mike in a minute."http://www.legacy.com/NS/Obituary.aspx?pid=118956865
"We have lost one of the great voices of the 20th century," said Otis Williams, lead singer of another Motown hit-maker, the Temptations. "A few years ago in Las Vegas, I told Levi, 'You are our black Frank Sinatra.' Levi could phrase a song just as beautifully."http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/18/local/me-stubbs18
Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. said, "He was a master interpreter of songs. He could be rough and tender at the same time. He made you walk in his shoes, love what he loved. ... He did not sing the song, he was the song." http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20081027/ENT04/810270401/
Levi Stubbs was my Pavarotti," Martha Reeves said.http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20081027/ENT04/810270401/
"We have lost one of the best lead singers of all time," Dennis Edwards said. "He was my mentor and best friend. He will be missed."http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20081027/ENT04/810270401/
Born in Detroit in 1936, Levi Stubbs had attended Pershing High School, where he met Abdul "Duke" Fakir. He began his professional singing career with friends Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson, and Lawrence Payton, forming a singing group called The Four Aims in 1954. Two years later, after having signed with Chess Records, the group changed their name to the Four Tops. The name change was meant to avoid confusion with the then-popular Ames Brothers. The Four Tops began as a supper-club act before signing to Motown Records in 1963. By the end of the decade, the Four Tops had over a dozen hits. The most popular of their hits (all of which featured Stubbs on lead vocals) include "Baby I Need Your Loving", "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)", "It's the Same Old Song", "Reach Out I'll Be There", "Standing in the Shadows of Love", "Bernadette", "Still Water (Love)", "Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)" as well as the late hit "Loco In Acapulco". Although Stubbs was a natural baritone, most Four Tops' hits were written in a tenor range to give the lead vocals a sense of urgency.
Despite being the most prominent member of the group, Stubbs refused to have separate billing (in contrast to other Motown acts such as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and Diana Ross and the Supremes), and he also turned down several offers for a solo career, out of loyalty to his bandmates. Stubbs and the other Tops remained a team until Payton died in 1997, at which point Theo Peoples took his place. The Four Tops were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and have sold over 50 million records worldwide. In 2000, Theo Peoples replaced Stubbs as lead singer after Stubbs suffered a stroke, with Ronnie McNeir taking the place that Payton originally held. Benson died on July 1, 2005, leaving Duke Fakir as the only surviving member of The Four Tops' original lineup.
Although not an actor, Stubbs provided the voice of the carnivorous plant Audrey II in the 1986 movie version of the musical Little Shop of Horrors to much acclaim from fans of the film, and the voice of Mother Brain in the animated TV series Captain N: The Game Master (1989). Stubbs also guest starred in a number of TV shows as himself. Berry Gordy offered him the role of Louis McKay in the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues, opposite Diana Ross as Billie Holiday, but Stubbs turned it down, once again not wishing to overshadow the other members of the Four Tops.
Levi Stubbs and his wife Clineice were married from 1960 until his death. He had five children. He was diagnosed with cancer, in 1995, and later he was no longer able to tour with the group after a stroke. Stubbs died in his sleep on October 17, 2008, at his home in Detroit. Like the majority of Detroit celebrities, Stubbs is interred at Detroit's historic Woodlawn Cemetery across from the Michigan State Fairgrounds.
|1986||Little Shop of Horrors||Audrey II|
|1987||Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light||Talking carnivorous plant||Episode: "Honor Among Thieves"|
|1989-1991||Captain N: The Game Master||Mother Brain||Credited as Levi Stubbs Jr.|
|1991||Captain N and the New Super Mario World||Episode: "Fire Sale"
"The Wheel Thing"
|1986||Howard Ashman & Alan Menken||"Feed Me Git It"
"Mean Green Mother From Outer Space"
|Little Shop of Horrors|
|2003||Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland & Edward Holland||"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)"||Queer as Folk|
- "Stars mourn Four Tops star Stubbs." BBC. Tuesday October 28, 2008. Retrieved on November 7, 2012.
- Maynard, Micheline. "Levi Stubbs, 72, Powerful Voice for Four Tops, Dies." The New York Times. October 17, 2008. Retrieved on November 7, 2012.
- Jones, Steve (October 19, 2008). "The Four Tops' Levi Stubbs dies at 72". USA Today. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
- Maynard, Micheline (October 17, 2008). "Levi Stubbs, 72, Powerful Voice for Four Tops, Dies". The New York Times
- Four Tops Vocalist Levi Stubbs Dies At 72
- USA Today
- Levi Stubbs at Find a Grave
- Levi Stubbs at the Internet Movie Database
- Levi Stubbs interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' October 1992
- Levi Stubbs discography at MusicBrainz
- Obituary in Los Angeles Times
- Obituary in The New York Times
- Obituary on NPR Music