Reach Out I'll Be There

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"Reach Out I'll Be There"
Single by Four Tops
from the album Reach Out
B-side "Until You Love Someone"
Released August 18, 1966
Format 7" single
Recorded Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A); 1966
Genre Soul, pop
Length 3:01
Label Motown
M 1098
Writer(s) Holland–Dozier–Holland[1]
Producer(s) Brian Holland
Lamont Dozier[1]
Four Tops singles chronology
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever"
"Reach Out I'll Be There"
"Standing in the Shadows of Love"

"Reach Out I'll Be There" (also formatted as "Reach Out (I'll Be There)") is a 1966 hit song recorded by the Four Tops for the Motown label. Written and produced by Motown's main production team Holland–Dozier–Holland,[2] the song is one of the most well-known Motown tunes of the 1960s and is today considered The Tops' signature song. It was the number one song on the R&B charts for two weeks,[3] and on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, from September 24, 1966 to October 15. It replaced "Cherish" by The Association, and was itself replaced by "96 Tears" by Question Mark & the Mysterians. Rolling Stone later ranked this version #206 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". This version is also currently ranked as the 36th best song of all time, as well as the #3 song of 1966, in an aggregation of critics' lists at[4]

The track also reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart, becoming Motown's second UK chart-topper after The Supremes hit #1 with "Baby Love" in late 1964.[5] It had replaced Jim Reeves' "Distant Drums" at number one in October 1966 and stayed there for three weeks before being replaced by The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" in November.[6]

Lead singer Levi Stubbs delivers many of the lines in the song in a tone that straddles the line between singing and shouting,[2] as he did in 1965's "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)". Allmusic critic Ed Hogan praises Stubb's vocal, as well as the song's "rock-solid groove" and "dramatic, semi-operatic tension and release."[7] Critic Martin Charles Strong calls the song "a soul symphony of epic proportions that remains [the Four Tops'] signature tune."[8]

This song differs markedly from the Four Tops' earlier efforts, due to the highly-contrasting shifts between minor and major, and also major and augmented chords.[citation needed] These contrasting tonal shades form the hook for which the song is so well known. The Four Tops would rely on this formula for several subsequent releases.[citation needed]

The song was included in the soundtrack to the 1975 movie Cooley High.[7] Allmusic critic Ed Hogan claims it was an effective song for the closing scenes.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 105. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  2. ^ a b "Show 50 - The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit.". Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 212. 
  4. ^ "Acclaimed Music Top 3000 songs". 27 May 2009. 
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 170. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  6. ^ "All The Number One Singles 1966". Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Hogan, E. "Reach Out I'll Be There". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  8. ^ Strong, M.C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography. Canongate. p. 556. ISBN 9781841956152. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Cherish" by The Association
Billboard Hot 100 number one single (The Four Tops version)
October 15, 1966 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"96 Tears" by ? & the Mysterians
Preceded by
"Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" by The Temptations
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single (The Four Tops version)
October 29, 1966 – November 5, 1966 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Love Is a Hurtin' Thing" by Lou Rawls
Preceded by
"Distant Drums" by Jim Reeves
UK number one single
27 October 1966
(three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Good Vibrations" by Beach Boys