Four Tops helped define the sound of 60s Motown and then just kept going!
44 years as a 4 piece vocal group with no changes in members, The Four Tops helped shape the sound of Motown when it was stationed in Detroit in the 60s.
As one of the first signings of Berry Gordy’s creation, they recorded many albums, released plenty of singles, and even sang BV’s on other artists’ recordings.
Their two biggest tunes I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) and Reach Out I’ll Be There were released a year apart in the mid-60s, just a year after they signed.
After the two big hits that are still played today by DJs, radio, and most importantly, Motown/Soul bands, they simply just kept going. Some success was had with Bernadette and Ain’t No Woman but neither stuck like the two aforementioned have.
One interesting collaboration was with The Supremes in the 70s, once Diana had left. Together they released an album called The Magnificent 7 (the same name as the famous Western film) as well as another two albums. The most notable tune would be their version of Tina Turner and Phil Spector’s River Deep, Mountain High.
After the glory days of the 60s, there was a lack of hits for the Four Tops, the albums didn’t do too well but I bet the live shows worked with all that material from the 60s to choose from.
These days, in the covers band world, the biggest productions that graduate from weddings to theatres often blend these two acts, making it a big show having many singers, a full horn section, and a 4 piece band. I know several acts that just tour around the country every year, impersonating The Supremes, Stevie, The Temptations, and of course, Four Tops.
But I digress, the Four Tops, with or without The Supremes, or Berry Gordy just kept going no matter what they were faced with, even avoiding a terrorist bomb on a flight in 1988.
Known as the Lockerbie bombing, Pan Am Flight 103 crashed and killed everyone onboard and people on the ground in the Scottish town of Lockerbie. The Four Tops were supposed to be on that flight if it wasn’t for a recording session that ran over time.
In 1997, original member Lawrence Payton died of liver cancer, turning the Four Tops into a trio for a year before they for the first time recruited a new member and again, just kept going.
Still, to this day there is a Four Tops out there, only one original member is left. In 2023, they celebrate their 70-year anniversary.
Four Tops tunes | Related pages
I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)
| C | C | G | G |
Oh, sugar pie, honey bunch, you know that I love you.
| Dm | Dm | F | G A5 |
I can’t help myself, I love you and nobody else.
I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) chords.
Reach Out I’ll Be There
| Abm7 Gb/Bb | Db | Abm7 Gb/Bb | Db |
Now if you feel that you can’t go on, because all of your hope is gone.
| Abm7 Gb/Bb | Db Db6 | Abm7 Gb/Bb | Db |
And your life is filled with much confusion, until happiness is just an illusion.
Reach Out I’ll Be There chords.