The Four Tops - from left to right: Renaldo 'Obie' Benson, Lawrence Payton, Abdul 'Duke' Fakir and Levi Stubbs. Photograph: Harry Goodwin/Rex Features
Another sad day in mytea@om world as we hear of Levi Stubbs, lead singer of the Four Tops and the voice of Motown hits including "Reach Out (I'll Be There)" and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)", has died aged 72. He died in his sleep at the Detroit house he shared with his wife of 48 years, Cliniece. He had not performed in recent years because of illness.
With Stubbs in the lead, the Four Tops sold millions of records and performed for more than four decades without a change in personnel. Former Motown labelmate Smokey Robinson said: "Levi Stubbs was one of the great voices of all times. He was very near and dear to my heart."
The group signed with Motown Records in 1963 and produced 20 Top-40 hits over the next decade. Their biggest hits were recorded between 1964 and 1967 with I Can't Help Myself and Reach Out reaching No 1 on the Billboard pop chart.
Barry Gordy, who founded Motown, said: "It is not only a tremendous personal loss for me but for the Motown family, and people all over the world who were touched by his rare voice and remarkable spirit."
Stubbs "fits right up there with all the icons of Motown," said Audley Smith, of the Motown Historical Museum. "His voice was as unique as Marvin [Gaye's] or as Smokey's or as Stevie [Wonder's]."
Stubbs once told the LA Times: "I don't really even have a style; I just come by the way I sing naturally. When I learn a song, I try to live it as best I can."