On this day in music history: July 10, 1964 – “Baby I Need Your Loving” by The Four Tops is released. Written by Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland, it is the fourth single release for the R&B vocal quartet from Detroit, MI. Originally known as The Four Aims when they’re formed in 1953, the group consists of Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton. The group come together while they are students at Northern High School in Detroit, MI. They land their first recording contract with Chess Records in 1956, with the help of Payton’s cousin, songwriter Roquel “Billy” Davis. The group change their name to The Four Tops in order to avoid confusion with the vocal group The Ames Brothers. The Tops release the single “Kiss Me Baby” in May of 1956, but it not successful. Though popular as a live act, often opening for top artists including Billy Eckstine, The Four Tops are unable to land a hit record. Between 1960 and 1963, the group record more unsuccessful singles for Columbia, Red Top and Riverside Records. Finally, they catch a break later in 1963, when Roquel Davis introduces them to Berry Gordy, Jr., one of Davis’ songwriting partners and the founder of Motown Records. Gordy initially signs them to the labels’ Workshop Records imprint. They record a series of jazz standards, but are still hitless. Instead, the group work as background singers for other Motown artists, including The Supremes on their first top 40 hit “When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes”. Then The Four Tops are paired with The Supremes’ production team Holland Dozier Holland. Feeling they need to move in a more R&B and mainstream pop direction, HDH set about crafting a song suitable for The Tops. They quickly come up with “Baby I Need Your Loving”, after seeing the group perform at a local Detroit club. The song is recorded in May of 1964 at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit, with members of The Funk Brothers including James Jamerson (bass), Benny Benjamin (drums), Robert White (guitar) and Earl Van Dyke (piano). Paul Riser adds the finishing touch by arranging the horns and strings on the track. The Four Tops add their vocals and the song is completed in short order. Released in the Summer of 1964, “Baby I Need Your Loving” becomes the elusive hit that Motown and The Four Tops have been looking for. “Baby” peaks at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 3, 1964, becoming their first million selling single. It is the first of sixteen pop and twenty five R&B top 40 hits, the group have with Motown. One of the evergreens in the Motown catalog, “Baby I Need Your Loving” is also covered by Johnny Rivers, Marvin Gaye (w/ Kim Weston and Tammi Terrrell), O.C. Smith, Mitch Ryder, Checkmates, Ltd., Eric Carmen, and Carl Carlton to name a few.
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