Friday, October 17, 2008

I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)

Rest in peace Levi. Thank you for the music.

Levi Stubbs, whose impassioned baritone was one of the most iconic voices to come out of Motown Records, died this morning at his Detroit home. The singer was 72.

On songs like "Baby I Need Your Loving," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," "Reach Out (I'll Be There)," "Standing in the Shadows of Love," "Bernadette," "Ask the Lonely" and other Four Tops hits, Stubbs' voice was a rare instrument, capable of sheer, soaring joy, but also the most abject, broken-hearted sorrow.

Stubbs suffered a series of strokes several years ago that forced him to retire from touring with the Tops. The group -- which also included Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Lawrence Payton and Renaldo "Obie" Benson -- had been together since the 1950s, well before Berry Gordy Jr. signed them to Motown, and were seasoned performers on the sophisticated nightclub circuit. Fakir is now the only survivor of the original group.