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Duke Fakir, the last original member of The Four Tops, shares Broadway musical plans

Posted at 11:30 PM, Dec 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 23:32:04-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The magic of Motown continues to live on.

This time, the legacy of The Four Tops will play out on stage and in a new book written by the last living original member of the tops Duke Fakir.

We've seen the magic of Motown come to life on the big screen with The Temptations and The Jackson 5 but now, it's The Four Tops taking center stage in a feel-good uplifting musical, one with great songs and a story about unity, love and dreams that come true. And Fakir, the last original living Four Tops, is the creator and mastermind.

“What are we going to see in this show, how did you come up with a show about The Four Tops?” WXYZ’s Carolyn Clifford asked.

“I've been thinking about this for maybe 15 years,” Fakir said.

WXYZ met Duke in Motown's Studio A, where all of their world-renowned hits were made with Levi Stubbs, Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton.

“This is still the original studio where you did all those marvelous songs, so how do you feel?” Clifford asked.

“I feel like it's hallowed ground. I really do we spent so much time here,” Fakir said.

The Tops are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and are listed among the Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Their four-part harmony made hit record making appear easy.

What's your favorite song of all?” Clifford asked.

“'Baby I Need Your Loving,' that's like our national anthem,” Fakir said.

“'Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch'” and “'Reach Out'” written by Eddie and Brian Holland made them world famous, and the duo is writing six new original songs just for this musical.

“They've written for us some great hits, mostly all of our big classical hits were written by the Holland brothers,” Fakir said.

In the musical, Fakir says you see intimate parts of their life like when he left his first wife and took up with Mary Wilson and his daughter came to his doorstep.

“She said, ‘When you coming home daddy?' Fakir said. “That changed everything — pretty big scene in the musical.”

His second marriage is now 47 years strong and so is his career.

“You're still performing, you told me all year long, right? Clifford asked.

“Oh yes, we were off all during the pandemic. We were off for about a year and a half, we're just getting back,” Fakir said.

“You look amazing, but you have a big birthday coming up,” Clifford said.

Yes, it is the day after Christmas,” Fakir said.

“And you'll be how old? Clifford said.

“86. 86 and still performing. Well, that's just a number,” Fakir said.

The Tops played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“The way that people looked at Black people when we first started out there, weren't a whole lot of black people on television and in White Houses,” Fakir said.

Fakir says he's also pinned a book that's coming out in May of 2022.

“What are we going to learn in the book? Tell me something that I don't know," Clifford said.

One thing you're going to learn, how four young men got together and were able to stay together for 44 years,” Fakir said.

Fakir grew up within walking distance of Motown, his home still today. This project is his love letter to Detroit and the worldwide premier of "I'll Be There" will be in the Motor City.

“Why would you open in Detroit? Clifford asked. “Why not New York?”

“I said, this is my Hollywood, this is my New York, this is my hometown,” Fakir said.

After that, they will be moving forward to Broadway, Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada. He says it's important for younger generations to know the legacy of the Tops, so the name lives on in history.

“A musical like this will definitely strengthen the name of the Tops and it will give me good reason to slide off into the wild blue yonder,” Fakir said.

“They left me a legacy. It's a great legacy and I'm not going to mess it up, just going to build on it so when I go, everything will be — that's beautiful,” Fakir continued.

The final touches are being put on Fakir's book and soon, he will be casting for The Four Tops the musical and who knows, the next stars of tomorrow may be born.