Duke Fakir of The Four Tops pens new book

AP PHOTO The Four Tops, from left, Renaldo “Obie” Benson, Levi Stubbs Abdul “Duke” Fakir, and Lawrence Payton hold their awards after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York on in 1990. Fakir wrote a memoir, “I’ll Be There: My Life With The Four Tops.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The story of The Four Tops, the famous Motown harmony group, began at a high school graduation party in Detroit, when four young men were hoping to impress the girls with an impromptu performance.

That night in 1954, when Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Levi Stubbs, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton sung together for the first time, was the start of a lifelong brotherhood. Now that musical history will be laid out in a memoir called “I’ll Be There: My Life With The Four Tops” coming out on May 5 by Fakir, the last surviving member of The Four Tops.

“We came together in such beautiful harmony that we’d never rehearsed,” said Fakir. “The voices were a perfect blend from first tenor to the second tenor to baritone bass. And we had one of the greatest lead singers in Detroit and it just happened just like that.”

Over their career, The Four Tops grew from a vocal quartet (originally called the Four Aims) scraping by gig-to-gig, traveling the country, to the top of the charts, with hits like “I Can’t Help Myself,” “Baby I Need Your Loving,” and “Reach Out, I’ll Be There.” Their harmonies helped define the Motown sound of R&B and soul, but The Four Tops went beyond genre, often throwing in jazz and American standards in their shows. They would be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and earn a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy.

The quartet remained together for four decades. Payton died in 1997, followed by Benson in 2005 and Stubbs, who was the lead singer, in 2008. For Fakir, he wanted the book to memorialize not just his life, but also the bond that the four men created. He also is working on a musical based on The Four Tops as well. The memoir was co-written with Kathleen McGhee-Anderson.

“And now that the fellows are gone, I know it’s a story that should be told,” said Fakir. “It’s a love story. It’s got so many things about love in it. My life is part of that. But the Four Tops, we spread love.”


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