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Levi Stubbs, Gave Voice To Emotion

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Levi Stubbs died yesterday. He was the lead singer of The Four Tops and one of Motown's most recognizable voices.

(Soundbite of song "Ain't No Woman Like The One I Got")

THE FOUR TOPS: (Singing) Oooh, ain't no woman like the one I've got.

Mr. LEVI STUBBS: (Singing) Oh, no, they don't come better.

THE FOUR TOPS: (Singing) To make her happy doesn't take a lot.

Mr. STUBBS: (Singing) She don't ask for things, no diamond rings.

THE FOUR TOPS: (Singing) So together, like a hand in glove.

Mr. STUBBS: (Singing) Like pages in a letter.

THE FOUR TOPS: (Singing) Ain't no woman like the one I love...

SIMON: But Stubbs never left Motown. He lived with his wife in Detroit, and died at his home at age 72. As for recordings he leaves behind, he never will leave Motown songs like "I Can't Help Myself," "Reach Out, I'll Be There" and "Baby I Need Your Loving." Levi Stubbs gave voice to love, to hurt, to desire, to loneliness. His depth of feeling came through even on the tinny transistor radios that squeezed out Motown hits on street corners, beaches and parks in the 1960s. If you ever wondered why this kind of music was called soul, just listen to that voice, now silent, but never silenced, of Levi Stubbs.

(Soundbite of song "It's the Same Old Song")

THE FOUR TOPS: (Singing) Now it's the same old song, But with a different meaning since you've been gone. It's the same old song, But with a different meaning since you've been gone.

Mr. STUBBS: (Singing) A sentimental fool am I, To hear an old love song and want to cry. But the melody keeps haunting me, Reminding me how in love we used to be. Keep hearing the part that used to touch my heart, Saying...

THE FOUR TOPS: (Singing) Together forever, breaking up never. It's the same old song, But with a different meaning since you've been gone. It's the same old song, But with a different meaning since you've been gone.

Mr. STUBBS: (Singing) Precious memories keep lingering on, Every time I hear our favorite song...

SIMON: You're listening to Levi Stubbs on Weekend Edition from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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