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Levi Stubbs, 72; Lead Singer of Four Tops
The Holland-Dozier-Holland team, which admired the Four Tops's club act, correctly thought their "Baby I Need Your Loving," would provide the breakthrough. Recording in 1964, the song reached No. 11 on the pop charts.
The Four Tops achieved its first No. 1 hit the next year with "I Can't Help Myself," after which Gordy sent them on a European concert tour. The songwriting team left Motown in 1967 after clashing with Gordy over royalties, but the Four Tops continued to record popular cover versions of other songs, including folk musician Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter."
The band collaborated on albums with the Supremes and continued its affiliation with Motown until Gordy moved the company to Los Angeles in 1972. The group solidified its post-Motown fame with "Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)," a No. 4 hit in 1973.
Unlike other Motown artists, Mr. Stubbs never spoke bitterly about the company in later years. "Motown just had so many big-time artists there it was virtually impossible to have them all serviced," he told The Post in 1987. "As far as I'm concerned, Motown was the greatest thing that happened to 99 percent of the people that were ever involved with it, simply because it was an outlet that you never would have possibly had otherwise."
Mr. Stubbs last performed in 2000, and Benson died in 2005. Fakir, the only surviving original member, continues to lead a version of the Tops that includes Payton's son Roquel, former Temptations member Theo Peoples and Ronnie McNeir.
In 1960, Mr. Stubbs married dancer Clineice Townsend, who survives him along with five children; three sisters; 11 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Apart from the Four Tops, Mr. Stubbs played the man-eating plant Audrey II in the 1986 version of "Little Shop of Horrors" and sang "Feed Me (Git It)," "Suppertime" and "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space."
He told People magazine that director Frank Oz gave him the best insight into the role. "He said the plant starts out sorta sweet and kind, then gets sly and devious and mean," Mr. Stubbs said. "I thought about it, some. In the music business you have quite a few people like that, so I put those people in my mind."