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  1. #1

    Four Tops question

    During the great late 60s Motown group name change was renaming the Tops ever on the table?

    I know Levi always rejected a solo career saying it was the Tops or nothing

    Was he approached with the idea and rejected it?

    What would you have called them?

    Levi Stubbs and the Four Tops? (That doesnít work for me, that implies a total of five people)

    Levi Stubbs and the Three Tops? (Awkward)

    Levi Stubbs and the Tops?

    I think it would have been a bad idea anyway

    The Four Tops had a unity and loyalty that is rare in music (then and now)

    Side question:

    It seems that some groups are as known and famous for their in fighting and breakups as their music

    Did the Tops ever have any drama or tension? If so Iíve never heard of any, amazing considering how long the original lineup was together

    Did they ever even disagree on what pizza toppings to get?
    Last edited by Optimal Saint; 05-19-2020 at 03:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Optimal Saint...Hi. You likely already know the bit i have to offer. I just read a lot.

    Levi was approached with offers to leave the group and go solo, he turned them down saying he wouldn't leave his 'brothers'. He was offered parts in movies and TV that he turned down unless there were parts for the other Tops, too. The way i hear it, they wanted it to be Levi Stubbs and the Tops. Levi wouldn't have it. He was a loyal friend, just like the others were.

    No real dirt on any of them. There were a couple of minor things, but nothing that would make the paper today. They have a story about living within blocks of each other, and seeing each other daily. They say they fished, golfed, shot hoops, hung out, but they were that tight in real life and professionally.

    I'm sure you'll get some really good responses. I'm anxious to read what others have to say.

  3. #3
    The Four Tops featuring The Sound of Levi Stubbs singing "Let's Hang On To What We Got".

  4. #4
    In the case of other Motown acts, the leader's name generally worked well and rolled off the tongue nicely. But in this case I am not so sure it would have. So Levi made the right choice in rejecting the idea.

  5. #5
    Their name was Four Tops meaning four top guys (or similar) rather than The Four Tops which implies the four best. In a way a rather humble name which reflects their approach as a group of friends and colleagues.

    It could never have been that Levi was named up front as he wouldn't want that and it wouldn't have worked, being as they were a group of equals. Whilst their bigger hits did feature the voice of Levi, in reality they were a group of four close harmoniers and that sound comes through on many of their recordings - that to me was their signature sound from the start (and on the Workshop Jazz stuff) - they really were great at that but that wasn't a commercial enough sound.

    I'm so glad they achieved big success with the Motown Sound though my own preference is the softer stuff, "Do What You Gotta Do", "MacArthur Park", "What Is A Man", "The Good Lord Knows", "Walk Away Renee" and "Ask The Lonely" for example.

  6. #6
    Well they change to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and it sounded ok to me. Levi was the Four Tops, and it is amazing to me the lack of recognition he has had for being the greatest singer we have had.

  7. #7
    I believe there were four group members behind Franki Valli when they became Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. I've always respected and admired Levi Stubbs' decision not to be singled out in the group. But I do feel he deserved wider and greater recognition, although The Four Tops became major stars, even superstars to many British and Motown fans. I always tell people who he is/was and never fail to mention he is the voice of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors.

  8. #8
    Agree completely that Levi should have got far much recognition, but it summed up Levi to a tee, that he was quite a private man & was perfectly content being a Four Top! My first ever single as a youngster, first album, first live concert, telling school I had a dentist appointment & Mom I had an away rugby match, then they used to have two performances one at 5.30pm, a change of clothes in my rugby bag, quick change out of school uniform at the railway station and my first train journey on my own to Liverpool a 30 minute journey! Teachers laughed at me when I said I wanted to be on the radio as a DJ, but I did! and one of the first interviews was the Four Tops, of all the members of the group it was Levi that became life friends, we as a Radio Station used to promote their concerts every time they came over to the UK, what a Genuine Guy! such True Talent, still miss him so much, but he left is His Music as a Gift!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by tmd View Post
    Well they change to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and it sounded ok to me. Levi was the Four Tops, and it is amazing to me the lack of recognition he has had for being the greatest singer we have had.
    I disagree, Levi would disagree and Obie, Lawrence, and Duke would disagree. They were all the Four Tops! I do agree that Levi was one of the greatest singers ever. He's always been a favorite of mine.

  10. #10
    And I disagree. Levi wasn't the Four Tops. Excellent singer - absolutely and a distinct voice, but the Tops were a four piece vocal group.

  11. #11
    if you think about it, motown only renamed 2 groups - supremes and miracles. and both were to highlight very specific people.

    yes MRATV was SLIGHTLY renamed. but it wasn't a drastic change. and GKATP already were named that as was Jr Walker and the All Stars.

    they didn't change the tops, temps, marvelettes, contours, velvelettes, elgins, monitors, isley brothers, spinners, originals

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    if you think about it, motown only renamed 2 groups - supremes and miracles. and both were to highlight very specific people.

    yes MRATV was SLIGHTLY renamed. but it wasn't a drastic change. and GKATP already were named that as was Jr Walker and the All Stars.

    they didn't change the tops, temps, marvelettes, contours, velvelettes, elgins, monitors, isley brothers, spinners, originals
    Agree, however, David Ruffin tried to the best of his capability to change the name of the Temptations to David Ruffin and the Temptations. Wonder what the ultimate destiny of the group would have been had this happened?

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by woodward View Post
    Agree, however, David Ruffin tried to the best of his capability to change the name of the Temptations to David Ruffin and the Temptations. Wonder what the ultimate destiny of the group would have been had this happened?
    David was tripping,lol...But in all seriousness there are folks who will insist he may have
    been the best voice in the company. To each it's reach...I dug em all. Anyway, the
    tightness of the Four Tops was not as common in most groups. The closest thing I can think of is outside of Motown in that kick ass combo The Dells..
    Last edited by splanky; 05-22-2020 at 01:45 PM. Reason: mispelling

  14. #14
    Haaaaaaaaaaaa...total chaos.

  15. #15
    Temps tv movie: "...David Ruffin and The... What's they name?!"(as he CRACKS up (pun intended) w/valet/bodyman in limo.

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