Renaldo “Obie” Benson, a member of legendary Motown singing group the Four Tops, died July 1 of lung cancer in Detroit. He was 69 and had a leg amputated several weeks ago because of circulation problems.
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.
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.
Benson was active with the group even into his 60s, spending more than a third of each year performing on the road. The group last played on April 8 on the “Late Show With David Letterman.”