"Reach Out I'll Be There" (also formatted as "Reach Out (I'll Be There)") is a song recorded by the Four Tops from their fourth studio album Reach Out (1967). Written and produced by Motown's main production team, Holland–Dozier–Holland, the song is one of the best known Motown tunes of the 1960s, and is today considered The Tops' signature song.
Lead singer Levi Stubbs delivers many of the lines in the song in a tone that some suggest straddles the line between singing and shouting, 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." Critic Martin Charles Strong calls the song "a soul symphony of epic proportions that remains [the Four Tops'] signature tune."
Eddie realised that when Levi hit the top of his vocal range, it sounded like someone hurting, so he made him sing right up there. Levi complained, but we knew he loved it. Every time they thought he was at the top, he would reach a little further until you could hear the tears in his voice. The line "Just look over your shoulder" was something he threw in spontaneously. Levi was very creative like that, always adding something extra from the heart.
For Diana Ross' fourth single, Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson re-imagined "Reach Out, I'll Be There" as a dramatic epic similar to what they had done a year before with their song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Rooted in gospel elements accompanied by strings from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra) and relying heavily on background vocals by Ashford & Simpson, Jo Armstead, and The Andantes, the song took on a deeper meaning in stark contrast to upbeat encouragement of the Four Tops' original. The song would be released from her LP Surrender. Unlike her version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" which was a smash hit, her version of "Reach Out, I'll There" failed to be the hit like its predecessor reaching number 29 on Billboard's Top 100 and number 35 in Canada.
Gaynor's version of "Reach Out, I'll Be There" became an international hit. It reached number 60 in the U.S. and number 16 in Canada. It did best in Europe, where it reached number 14 in the UK and number five in Germany.