Levi Stubbs

June 6, 1936 – October 17, 2008

Levi Stubbs lived most of his life in Detroit. It was a fortunate coincidence that the Motor City became the hotbed of R&B music during the time when Stubbs and friends, Duke Fakir, Obie Benson and Lawrence Payton were performing together as the Four Aims. The group signed with Chess records, changed their name to the Four Tops and went on to become one of the biggest selling acts for Motown Records. Stubbs’s soulful voice was the centerpiece of all of the Four Tops’ biggest hits.

Despite singing lead on monster hits like “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There” and “Baby I Need Your Loving,” Stubbs was all about the group. He bucked the trend of some of his peers of separating themselves from the rest of the group and refused offers to record solo projects. The Four Tops’ classic lineup stayed together for more than 40 years until Payton’s death in 1997.

Levi Stubbs is widely regarded as one of the best lead vocalists in American music history. Despite his natural baritone, he sang most of the Tops’ songs in a tenor range, giving the songs an extra punch. Outside of music, Stubbs also lent his standout voice to various voice acting projects…most notably voicing the killer plant, Audrey II, in 1986’s classic film musical Little Shop of Horrors.

Stubbs suffered a stroke in 2000, but continued performing when he could. The Four Tops were inducted into multiple musical halls of fame and continue to be one of the best-selling vocal acts of all time. Levi Stubbs died in his sleep in 2008 at the age of 72.


Woodlawn Cemetery – Detroit, MI

Specific Location

Section 3, Space 325, Grave 3 – Levi is buried just a few rows from the parking area behind the office. His distinctive black heart-shaped monument is easy to spot.

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