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Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Four Tops Discography


Formed 1956, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

Levi Stubbs (b. Levi Stubbles, 6th June 1936, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 17th October 2008, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Renaldo 'Obie' Benson (b. 14th June 1936, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 1st July 2005, Harper Hospital, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Lawrence Payton (b. 2nd March 1938, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A, d. 20th June 1997)

and Abdul 'Duke' Fakir (b. 26th December 1935, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)

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The Four Tops were formed, under that name, in 1956 in Detroit, Michigan, although two years prior to that they had sang at a party together in the town.

All of the group members attended Detroit-area high schools.

Levi Stubbs and Abdul 'Duke' Fakir attended Pershing, and met Northern students Renaldo 'Obie' Benson and Lawrence Payton at a friend's birthday party.

It was at this party where the quartet first sang together.

In those preceding years they called themselves the Four Aims, as early as 1953, changing their name in 1956 to the Four Tops.

As the Four Aims, they sang Jazz Standards, converting to an R & B sound with the name change.

They changed their name to the Four Tops to avoid confusion with the group the Ames Brothers.

Lawrence Payton's cousin Roquel Davis helped them get an audition with Chess Records in 1956, where they recorded one single entitled 'Kiss Me Baby'.

The Four Tops also recorded for the Red Top, Columbia (where they recorded 'Ain't That Love' in 1960) and Riverside imprints between 1958 and 1962.

In 1963, the group were then signed to the Motown jazz subsidiary Workshop.

In 1964, they recorded an album entitled 'Breaking Through', which wasn't released and Berry Gordy decided to put the group in the songwriting hands of the Holland / Dozier / Holland writing and production team.

Instant success followed with the initial release, with the new collaboration, in the form of 'Baby I Need Your Loving'.

The song reached the Top 20 in the States.

In 1965, they released 'I Can't Help Myself', which went straight to the top of the charts, and the success continued for the group.

For two more years, the Tops and the writing team had continued success, with 'Reach Out I'll Be There' making the top spot in the charts both sides of the Atlantic in 1966.

The Four Tops also charted with the songs 'Bernadette' and 'It's The Same Old Song'.

By 1967, the groups sound diversified, however, they still charted with Left Banke's 'Walk Away Renee' and Tim Hardin's 'If I Were A Carpenter'.

When the Holland / Dozier / Holland writing team left the Motown stable to form the Invictus imprint, the Four Tops success was placed on the backburner, however, they teamed up with the various producers / writers such as Frank Wilson and Smokey Robinson.

In 1970, they charted again with the Tommy Edwards song 'It's All In The Game', and the ballad 'Still Waters (Run Deep)'.

Also in 1970, they teamed up with The Supremes for the first of three albums together.

They also had a hit in 1971 with the Jim Webb song 'MacArthur Park'.

Renaldo 'Obie' Benson co-wrote Marvin Gaye's classic song 'What's Going On' that same year.

One final album was released for the Motown label entitled 'Nature Planned it' in 1972.

Later that year, the Four Tops left Motown, following the release of the single 'A Simple Game'.

This was prompted by Motown's relocation to California from Detroit in 1972.

They group signed to the ABC / Dunhill Records imprint, where they charted with the song 'Are You Man Enough', taken from the movie soundtrack 'Shaft In Africa'.

'Keeper Of The Castle' provided the group with their first chart hit for a while in 1972, with the subsequent album containing the excellent 'When Tonight Meets Tomorrow'.

The group were teamed up with the songwriting partnership Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter at this time.

Several excellent albums followed including 'Main Street People' in 1973 and 'Meeting Of The Minds' in 1974.

'Night Lights Harmony' was released in 1975, followed by 'Catfish' in 1976 (containing the excellent 'Strung Out On Your Love').

'The Show Must Go On' turned out to be the groups final album for ABC / Dunhill before the Four Tops relocated to the MCA imprint.

In 1981, they joined Casablanca Records, and had a number 1 hit with 'When She Was My Girl'.

In 1983, the group performed with The Temptations during the Motown 25th Anniversary television special.

They re-signed to the label for 'Back Where I Belong', one side of which was produced by Holland / Dozier / Holland.

In 1986, Levi Stubbs provided the voice for Audrey the man-eating plant in the film version of 'Little Shop of Horrors'.

They then relocated to the Arista imprint, where they recorded the singles 'Indestructible' and 'Loco In Acapulco', the latter taken from the soundtrack to the film 'Buster'.

The Four Tops were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and continued to tour the oldies circuit.

The groups line-up remained the same throughout their recording career until Lawrence Payton died from liver cancer in June 1997.

In 2002, it was reported that Levi Stubbs was suffering from prostate cancer, however, he had suffered a stroke and a mild heart attack.

This led to Levi not being able to tour.

His place, in the line up, was taken by Ronnie McNeir.

In 2004, a special event was held in his honour, entitled 'It’s All The Way Live With Levi - 50 Years And Still Going'.

Levi attended, along with The Temptations, The Contours, Mary Wilson, Dennis Edwards, The Miracles, The Marvelettes, The Spinners, The Dells, Ollie Woodson, The Satin Tones, The Supremes including members Cindy Birdsong, Jean Terrell, Sherrie Payne amongst others.

Renaldo Obie Benson sadly died on the 1st July 2005, Harper Hospital, Detroit, from several medical conditions.

The current group line up comprises: 'Night Lights Harmony' was released in 1975, followed by 'Catfish' in 1976 (containing the excellent 'Strung Out On Your Love').

'The Show Must Go On' turned out to be the groups final album for ABC / Dunhill before the Four Tops relocated to the MCA imprint.

In 1981, they joined Casablanca Records, and had a number 1 hit with 'When She Was My Girl'.

In 1983, the group performed with The Temptations during the Motown 25th Anniversary television special.

They re-signed to the label for 'Back Where I Belong', one side of which was produced by Holland / Dozier / Holland.

In 1986, Levi Stubbs provided the voice for Audrey the man-eating plant in the film version of 'Little Shop of Horrors'.

They then relocated to the Arista imprint, where they recorded the singles 'Indestructible' and 'Loco In Acapulco', the latter taken from the soundtrack to the film 'Buster'.

The Four Tops were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and continued to tour the oldies circuit.

The groups line-up remained the same throughout their recording career until Lawrence Payton died from liver cancer in June 1997.

In 2002, it was reported that Levi Stubbs was suffering from prostate cancer, however, he had suffered a stroke and a mild heart attack.

This led to Levi not being able to tour.

His place, in the line up, was taken by Ronnie McNeir.

In 2004, a special event was held in his honour, entitled 'It’s All The Way Live With Levi - 50 Years And Still Going'.

Levi attended, along with The Temptations, The Contours, Mary Wilson, Dennis Edwards, The Miracles, The Marvelettes, The Spinners, The Dells, Ollie Woodson, The Satin Tones, The Supremes including members Cindy Birdsong, Jean Terrell, Sherrie Payne amongst others.

Renaldo Obie Benson sadly died on the 1st July 2005, Harper Hospital, Detroit, from several medical conditions.

The current group line up comprises:

Abdul 'Duke' Fakir, Roquel Payton (Lawrence's son), Theo Peoples and Ronnie McNeir.

Levi Stubbs passed away at his home in Detroit on the 17th October 2008. He was 72.

Levi had suffered a series of strokes and other illnesses had been sick for a number of years prior to his passing.




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ALBUMSLink
  • Lost and Found : Breaking Through (rec. 1963-64, rel. 1999)
  • Four Tops (Motown 1964)
  • Four Tops No. 2 (Motown 1965)
  • Four Tops On Top (Motown 1966)
  • Four Tops Live! (Motown 1966)
  • Four Tops Live! (Motown 1966)
  • Four Tops On Broadway (Motown 1967)
  • Four Tops Reach Out (Motown 1967)
  • Yesterday's Dreams (Motown 1968)
  • Four Tops Now! (Motown 1969)
  • Soul Spin (Motown 1969)
  • Still Waters Run Deep (Motown 1970)
  • Changing Times (Motown 1970)
  • with the Supremes: The Magnificent Seven (Motown 1970)
  • with the Supremes: The Return Of The Magnificent Seven (Motown 1971)
  • with the Supremes: Dynamite (Motown 1972)
  • Nature Planned It (Motown 1972)
  • Keeper Of The Castle (Dunhill 1972)
  • Shaft In Africa film soundtrack (Dunhill 1973)
  • Main Street People (Dunhill 1973)
  • Meeting Of The Minds (Dunhill 1974)
  • Live And In Concert (Dunhill 1974)
  • Night Lights Harmony (ABC 1975)
  • Catfish (ABC 1976)
  • The Show Must Go On (ABC 1977)
  • At The Top (MCA 1978)
  • Tonight! (Casablanca 1981)
  • One More Mountain (Casblanca 1982)
  • Back Where I Belong (Motown 1983)
  • Magic (Motown 1985)
  • Hot Nights (Motown 1986)
  • Indestructible (Arista 1988)
  • 16 Great Souvenirs (Duchesse 1990)
  • Christmas is Here (1995)
COMPILATIONS
  • Fourever (2001) - 4 CD set : 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
  • It's All In the Game (1979)
  • Lost and Found : Lost Without You (unreleased 1963-70) 
  • Greatest Hits (1967) at Pirate Island
  • Ultimate Collection (1997) at Blak's Lair
  • 50th Anniversary Anthology at Sad Songs
  • Soul Legends (2006)

49 comments:

Simon666 said...

Linked up "Keeper of the Castle" and "Catfish'.

Simon666 said...

...and "Shaft In Africa".
More later, bedtime ..

Simon666 said...

Linked 9 more albums, plus added links/entries for "16 great Souvenirs" and two comps.

Simon666 said...

.. and finally linked "Show Must go on" and another comp.

antonio said...

Hi, it's sad to say, but link from Fullundie site for "Back Where I Belong (Motown 1983)" does not working, and i don't know how to contact with guy from this blog...

Simon666 said...

Whoops, thought I'd checked all the links. Have unlinked that one now.
Antonio, why don't you leave a request there for a re-up?

http://fullundie.blogspot.com/2008/02/two-times-back-to-1983.html

zand said...

Exellent!!!
Thank You very much!!!
I had a few ones but now I can get more!!! :)

zand said...

The Four Tops-Indestructable-1988

http://rapidshare.com/files/158043912/I88.rar

Simon666 said...

thanks Zand.

zand said...

–°hristmas Here With You - 1995

http://rapidshare.com/files/158248834/chwy_-_95.rar

Simon666 said...

Thanks Zand, added ..

jcmoss33 said...

Your guys site is hot!!! Keep up the good work and keep the posts/links coming.
Peace

jcmoss33 said...

Great stuff and you saved me a TON of time converting vinyl to MP3s. Thank you!!! Peace

Simon666 said...

Added "Ultimate Collection"

Anonymous said...

The debut album from 1964:
http://sharebee.com/6d67a2aa

Enjoy!
Chris from Stockholm

Anonymous said...

The first Supreme/FT collaboration from 1970 (Diana has left the group by then):

http://sharebee.com/ec2d8233

Enjoy!
Chris from Stockholm

Anonymous said...

Mountain, anyone?

Here's the kinda hard to find album from 1982, containing the beautiful song "I believe in you and me".

http://sharebee.com/b44b7621

That's it from me today!

Enjoy!

Chris from Stockholm

Simon666 said...

Great job Chris, big thanks

Anonymous said...

This isn't an album, but this is their "First" solo release for "Chess" records from 1956! Early stuff!!! Mark
"Could It Be You"-The Four Tops
"Chess" #1623 (1956)

http://www.zshare.net/audio/532137722c053b05/

wkc said...

Thanks to all who made this wonderful discography available. Very nice to fill in a few blanks. I will help keep an eye out for valid links for the missing pieces. Thanks again

wkc said...

After the hassles I caused with Stylistics share I almost hesitate to add this link but I didn't notice any links for 50th anniversary anthology.
here's one
http://www.flyupload.com/get?fid=6691770

it is also a little different site. You have to click 5 times. No waiting just have to keep clicking the newly loaded page. It does work. This link was found on Sad Song For Dirty Lovers blog.

http://sadsongsfordirtylovers.blogspot.com/2008/10/four-tops-50th-anniversary-anthology.html

Hope this may help someone. Sorry I keep finding the unique links that aren't as easy to work with.

Simon666 said...

Thanks wkc

pete said...

http://blogsportsoul.blogspot.com/2009/03/four-tops-tonight-1981.html

Simon666 said...

thanks Pete.

Mark said...

Hi. When I tried the link for 'One More Mountain' the file downloaded, but would not open using Windows Media Player. Did anyone else have this problem? It looks like it needs a codec of some kind to work? Any help much appreciated.

Simon666 said...

Hi Mark -
I've replaced that with a different link, try the new one.

ALSO :

I've added a link for "Back Where I Belong" (Motown 1983)

Mark said...

Hi. Sorry I think that was my error. The tracks were MP4's so needed to be converted. I will try the new link...
Also does anyone have the password to unlock the link for 'Catfish'? I tried leaving a message on the guys blog but no response...
Thanks.

Simon666 said...

Check the Forrealheadz page again :

http://doctorokeh.blogspot.com/2008/08/four-tops-catfish-1976-01-catfish-02.html

Password is at the right above the shoutbox

Mr. Moo said...

SoulLegends (2006):

http://rapidshare.com/files/231294376/Four_Tops__SoulLegends__2006__.rar

Simon666 said...

Thanks Mr Moo :)

MrJJ said...

Thank you so much what a great collection. Here is The Four Tops - Four Tops Live And In Concert (1974)
Cheers
MrJJ

Simon666 said...

Fantastic, big thanks MrJJ :)
I used to have that on vinyl and have no idea what happened to it ,,, so have been surprised that it's been so hard to track down

Na'gia said...

Many thanks for the links and shares. So, I'd like to share the Lost and Founds with you =)


The Four Tops Lost & Found: Breaking Through


The Four Tops Lost & Found: Lost Without You Disc 1


The Four Tops Lost & Found: Lost Without You Disc 2

Simon666 said...

Big thanks for those Na'Gia :)
I've put the first volume up in the main albums, as it's essentially a lost "first album", and put the other one in the compilations.

Anonymous said...

Please, what password for Nature Planned It (Motown 1972)

Anonymous said...

Sorry .it's no need in pass

troods said...

First of all, continued thanks for reconnecting me (and everyone) with the music we remember and had so long ago. The music blog community is so incredibly generous and I appreciate it so much.

Question about "meeting of the minds" by the 4 tops. Both links look like the file sites got hit by copyright cops. I may be wrong.

I will contact the sites and ask. Just so you should know. Thanks again.

Simon666 said...

Thanks for letting us know troods. I've had a look around and can't see an alternate version of that album anywhere ...

Simon666 said...

If anyone from here grabbed that album and could contribute by re-upping , would be much appreciated ...

SelfScience said...

Hi Troods,

I re-upped the "Meeting of the Minds" album for you. Fresh RS link. Took down the alternate link as well.

troods said...

I am in awe.........thank you so much. Generosity AND speedy delivery. This is quite a site!

Simon666 said...

The blog with "Live and In Concert" (1974) had disappeared. New post at Fullundie now added :

http://fullundie.blogspot.com/2009/09/four-tops-live-and-in-concert.html

den81164 said...

here are the links for the box set "Fourever", which includes many unreleased items. enjoy
http://www.sendspace.com/file/ztymq6
http://www.sendspace.com/file/wxajz8
http://www.sendspace.com/file/yb5nkv
http://www.sendspace.com/file/1vk37l

Simon666 said...

Added :)
Thanks den81164 !

Anonymous said...

Hola, oach, velice supr, danke!

iRoNy_45 said...

Can anyone re=post "Catfish" [1976]. The link or pass [Lucy] does't work!

Thnx in advance!

iRoNy

iRoNy_45 said...

RE: Can Someone [re] upload Catfish [1976]. Password: Lucy [?], doesn't work!

Would be fine if someone would do the [dirty?] job!

Tnx

iRoNy

Anonymous said...

password: lucy

den81164 said...

password for catfish is lucy IN SMALL LETTERS

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