Today marks what would have been The Four Tops founding member Lawrence Payton’s 78th birthday. To celebrate his life and the iconic group, we’re taking a look at some interesting facts about The Four Tops; the Motown group behind famous tracks including “Baby, I Need Your Loving,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There” and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”, all written and produced by the prolific team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.
1. The Four Tops performed backing vocals for Martha and the Vandellas on their 1966 hit “My Baby Loves Me” and The Supremes’ “Run, Run, Run”.
2. The Four Tops first #1 hit was I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) which was released in 1965.
3. Lead singer of The Four Tops, Levi Stubbs, voiced the man-eating plant in the 1986 film Little Shop of Horrors.
4. In 1986, Billy Bragg wrote a song about the group, named after the lead singer Stubbs and entitled ‘Levi Stubbs’ Tears’. The song was about a woman whose Four Tops album helps her get through difficult times.
5. The Four Tops were together for over 40 years without a single change in their line up as a group from 1953 until Lawrence Payton sadly passed away in 1997.
6. The Four Tops first met at high school and made their singing debut together at a birthday party.
7. In 1983, The Four Tops and the Temptations took part in a battle-of-the-bands feature on television special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. The feature was such a success that the two groups began touring together.
8. In August 1966, The Four Tops released their biggest hit “Reach Out I’ll Be There” which reached #1 in the U.S. Pop and R&B charts as well as the UK chart.
9. The group have received many awards throughout the years including being inducted into many Halls of Fame. Notably, they are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1990), Vocal Group Hall of Fame (1999), Hollywood Walk of Fame (1997) and the Grammy Hall of Fame (1998).
10. In total throughout their career, The Four Tops released 27 studio albums and 61 singles. Between 1964 and 1988 they records made Billboard’s Hot 100 chart 45 times and its R&B chart 52 times. Twenty-four of their singles made the Top 40, and seven of those entered the Top 10.