The Four Tops were a vocal quartet signed to Motown. Lead singer Levi Stubbs,Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton formed the group as The Four Aims in 1953. They endured unsuccessful tenures at several different labels, but developed a polished stage presence. Impressed, Berry Gordy convinced them to sign with Motown in 1963.
They started at Motown by recording jazz material and providing backing vocals. Motown songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland began to create material for them, and eventually produced many of their mid-1960s hits. When H-D-H left Motown, The Four Tops were assigned to various different producers, and they continued to record successfully for the company until its relocation to Los Angeles in 1972.
They continued to release successful material under different labels throughout the 1970s and 1980s, even returning to Motown on two occasions. Unlike many Motown groups, The Four Tops maintained the same line-up – from their inception until Lawrence Payton died in 1997. A version of the group, with Abdul “Duke” Fakir as its only surviving original member, is still active.