I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my friend, Levi Stubbs. 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.
Levi was the greatest interpreter of songs I’ve ever heard. He was lead singer of the greatest and most loving group, The Four Tops. I remember when we heard their first Motown release, “Baby I Need Your Loving. Levi’s voice exploded in the room and went straight for our hearts. We all knew it was a hit, hands down.
He could easily have made it as a solo star, but his love and loyalty for Obie, Lawrence and Duke kept them together longer than any group I know. His integrity and character were impeccable. I have never seen a more dedicated person—to his wife, his group, his friends.
He was my first choice for the romantic lead in “Lady Sings the Blues.” Levi had the looks, the stature and the street smarts of a Louis MacKay. He was on the road with The Four Tops when I contacted him. But he refused the role because he thought it would interfere with the group’s future success.
I loved his hit songs for Motown, like "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," "Reach Out (I'll Be There)," "Standing in the Shadows of Love," “MacArthur Park” and "Bernadette," But also outside of Motown, his rendition of “I Believe in You and Me” was incredible. I’ve heard no one better.
I want to express my heartfelt sympathy to his wife, Clineice and children, to Duke and other family members and friends.
He will be really missed.
October 17, 2008