2 July 2005
And then there were two
The Four Tops got through forty-one years (forty-four if you count their pre-Tops identity as the Four Aims) without a personnel change, and when one came, there was no choice in the matter: Lawrence Payton died in the summer of 1997.
The Tops continued until lead singer Levi Stubbs suffered a stroke in 2002 and retired, at least temporarily, from touring.
Now a second Top has passed on: Renaldo "Obie" Benson, yesterday in his hometown of Detroit.
As a kid growing up on the cusp between rock and roll and R&B, I spun more Four Tops sides than any other Motown act, excepting possibly the Supremes, and while later Tops tracks tended toward All Levi, All The Time, I never forgot the harmonies. And Obie has one other distinction: he co-wrote "What's Going On," arguably Marvin Gaye's greatest record.
It's a measure of the times, and of my time in particular, that I'll certainly miss Luther Vandross, but I'm just floored by the loss of one of the Four Tops.Posted at 9:03 AM to Tongue and Groove