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Last original member of the Four Tops, Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir, dies | Ents & Arts News

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The last original member of Motown group the Four Tops has died at the age of 88.

Abdul “Duke” Fakir died on Monday of heart failure, according to a family spokesperson.

The Four Tops were among Motown’s most popular and enduring acts – hitting their peak in the 1960s.

Abdul 'Duke' Fakir at the Grammy awards in February  2023. pic: Action Press/Shutterstock
Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir at the Grammy Awards in February 2023. Pic: Action Press/Shutterstock

Between 1964 and 1967, they had 11 top 20 hits, including two number one hits: I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) and Reach Out I’ll Be There.

Other hits included Baby I Need Your Loving, Standing In The Shadows Of Love and Ask The Lonely.

They reached the top 20 for the last time in the early 1980s, with When She Was My Girl.

Fakir died with his wife and other loved ones by his side.

The Four Tops in November 1966. Pic: AP
The Four Tops in November 1966. Pic: AP

Many of Motown’s greatest stars, from the Supremes to Stevie Wonder, came of age at the Detroit-based company founded by Berry Gordy in the late 1950s.

But Fakir, lead singer Levi Stubbs, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton had been together for a decade when Gordy signed them up in 1963.

The Four Tops pose at Heathrow airport in 1966. From left to right are, Abdul Fakir, Levi Stubbs, Lawrence Payton and Renaldo Benson. Pic: AP
The Four Tops pose at Heathrow Airport in 1966. From left to right: Abdul Fakir, Levi Stubbs, Lawrence Payton and Renaldo Benson. Pic: AP

Their polished stage act and versatile vocal style enabled them to perform anything from country songs to pop standards like Paper Doll.

They called themselves the Four Aims when they started out, but soon renamed themselves the Four Tops to avoid confusion with the white harmony quartet the Ames Brothers.

The Tops had recorded for several labels, including the famed Chess Records in Chicago, with little commercial success.

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But Gordy and A&R man Mickey Stevenson paired them with the songwriting-production team of Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland and they quickly caught on.

After Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown in 1967, the Tops had more sporadic success.

However, they remained a busy concert act and at times toured with latter day members of the Temptations.

Fakir, of Ethiopian and Bangladeshi descent, was married twice and he had seven children.

His marriage to Piper Gibson lasted 50 years.

In the mid-1960s, he was briefly engaged to Mary Wilson of the Supremes.

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