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Four Tops member ‘Obie’ Benson dies

The Motown group member, a Hall of Fame inductee, was 69
/ Source: The Associated Press

Renaldo “Obie” Benson, a member of the legendary Motown singing group the Four Tops, died Friday. He was 69.

Benson died at a Detroit hospital, said the group’s road manager, Fred Bridges. His death also was confirmed by Craig Hankenson, president of Producers Inc., one of the agencies that books dates for the Four Tops.

“It was not unexpected. He has been ill,” Hankenson said.

The Four Tops sold more than 50 million records and recorded hit songs such as “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “Reach Out (I’ll be There),” “I Can’t Help Myself” and “Standing in the Shadows of Love.”

Benson’s death leaves two surviving members of the original group: Levi Stubbs and Abdul “Duke” Fakir. The fourth original Top, Lawrence Payton, died of liver cancer in 1997. They are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

A spokesman for Fakir told the Detroit Free Press for a story in Saturday’s editions that Fakir said: “He enjoyed every moment of his life, and put a smile on everyone’s face, including my own.”

The Four Tops began singing together in the 1950s under the name the Four Aims and signed a deal with Chess Records. They later changed their names to the Four Tops.

The group signed with Motown Records in 1963 and produced a string of hits over the next decade, making music history with the other acts in Berry Gordy’s Motown lineup.