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Motown Was Not Four Tops' First Choice

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2009

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The Four Tops are known as one of Motown’s most popular acts and most prolific hitmakers.

What’s not as widely known is the group turned down its first invitation to sign with the company, currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, for which it would eventually release 18 Top 40 hits.

“When Berry (Gordy, Jr.) first started the company (in 1958), we knew him very well and he casually asked us, ‘Hey would you like to come to my company?’ and we very casually said, ‘No, that’s OK,’ ” recalls Abdul “Duke” Fakir, the sole surviving member of the Tops’ original lineup, which stayed together, intact, for nearly 55 years.

The Tops had already recorded for other labels, including Chess, Columbia and Riverside. They were an established act, but they weren’t sure Gordy’s vision would pan out. “We didn’t think it was possible for a black company to win or to even survive in the climate of that particular day,” Fakir notes.

But the group members were more than happy to change their minds in 1963, when Gordy approached them again.

“We kept looking over our shoulders and listening to the radio and seeing how the company was going,” Fakir says. “We said, ‘Hey, that’s really where we need to be. So we were really thrilled when (Gordy) saw us on ‘The Tonight Show’ in ’63 ... and invited us again.

“Of course it was an open invitation, and we just went and ever since then, it’s just been a magnificent ride.”

The Four Tops and the Temptations perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Aug. 6) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $36.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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