Levi Stubbs

Hey, did you see that Levi Stubbs died?

It took me a while to get into Motown. I think "Bernadette" clinched the deal. Or maybe it was "Reach Out (I'll Be There)". I remember driving to Becket, Massachusetts with the Resnicks to pick up Doug from summer camp. I heard that Four Tops song twice on the way up and a few times on the way back. It closed me. Because of the power. Of Levi Stubbs' voice.

Sometime in the future these old acts are gonna pass away. Stunningly, that time is now. Levi was 72. Even Ringo Starr is 68. We thought they were going to live forever. But even we got gray and lost our hair, and have slowed down. A younger generation has taken over for us, but kids still listen to our music.

It wasn't only one man who was responsible for the Four Tops' success. There were writers and producers, but without Levi Stubbs, the records wouldn't have been elevens, they wouldn't sound so pristine, wouldn't evoke a time and a place, whether it be that drive or that bar mitzvah party or just spinning records alone, in your basement, dreaming of a better life to come.

It saddens me when these performers die. It's like a candle has been snuffed, there's a little less light in the world. But when I hear their music I know that they'll live on in hearts and minds for generations, because they were just that good.

Will we ever revisit an era where acts as diverse as Louis Armstrong, the Four Tops and the Beatles can coexist on the airwaves, the music of all emanating from the same station, so dominant that everyone knows the licks? I don't think so. That's a bygone era. We don't even have a new "Bonanza", and there are many more records than TV shows.

So raise a glass to the golden era. We lost another soldier in the music wars. One who gave his all, just so your life could be a little bit better.

Levi Stubbs? I can't help myself for loving you and your music. Wherever you are right now, I hope you know that!

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