WASHINGTON (AFP) — Levi Stubbs, the lead singer in the Motown rhythm and blues quartet, the Four Tops, died Friday at the age of 72 in Michigan after a long battle with illness, an official at the regional coroner's office said.
"He died at his home. We were informed but he wasn't brought here. He was being followed by his doctor because he had been ill for a long time," the official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.
Stubbs formed the Four Tops in 1954 with high school friend Abdul "Duke" Fakir, and Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton.
The band signed with the legendary Motown record label in 1963, and Stubbs' plaintive, gravelly voice helped the Four Tops to the top of the charts throughout the 1960s with hits like "Bernadette" and "Reach Out (I'll be there)."
In 1986, Stubbs' baritone voice was used in the film "Little Shop of Horrors" for Audrey II, the man-eating plant.
Stubbs was one of few contemporary singers who have been immortalized in song by others.
"Levi Stubbs' Tears" by British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg made it into the British charts in 1986.
The Four Tops were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
Stubbs' death brings the original band down to one surviving member, his former school friend Fakir.
Payton died in 1997 and Benson in 2005.
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