Friday, October 31, 2008
Levi Stubbs Tribute
The Four Tops singer was given a grand farewell Monday in Detroit, his 72-year life commemorated by family and friends, including an array of high-profile figures.
About 2,500 people gathered at Greater Grace Temple to pay their respects to the celebrated Motown luminary, who died Oct. 17 after several years of health problems. On hand were key figures from Stubbs' life, including Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr., family friend the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Cliniece Stubbs, his wife of 48 years.
Four Tops singer Abdul (Duke) Fakir, the Tops' last surviving original member, was among the last to speak during the 3-hour event, choking up as he remembered his longtime friend. Fakir paid tribute to the unwavering solidarity that kept the original group together for nearly half a century.
"There will always be, through eternity, the four of us," he said, quoting the line that famously opens the group's concerts.
Many speakers talked of Stubbs' humility, noting that he declined to seek a lucrative solo career or hog attention at the expense of his group mates.
More than anything, they paid homage to his vocal gifts. Stubbs was a golden-throated baritone who "could be rough and tender at the same time," conveying "joy, pain, happiness, despair," said Gordy, who signed the Tops in 1963.
"It's not a matter of coming along once in a decade, or once in a century, or even once in a lifetime," Gordy said. "A Levi Stubbs comes along only once -- period."
"Today you'll turn on the radio and hear him. Tomorrow you'll turn on the radio and hear him. We'll never be able to forget him. All over the world they'll be hearing Levi Stubbs forever," [said Smokey Robinson].
"Many speakers talked of Stubbs' humility, noting that he declined to seek a lucrative solo career or hog attention at the expense of his group mates." Wow - do people with that kind of class even exist today? Not that I know.
Here's one of their best-known hits. Do The Four Tops know how to work an audience of their fans, getting them involved and part of the music? Damn right they do!
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