This Day in Black History: June 20, 1997

Lawrence Payton of the Four Tops dies of liver cancer.

Posted: 06/20/2013 08:00 AM EDT

Rock 'n' roll Hall of Famer Lawrence Payton began singing tenor with the Four Tops in 1953, marking the beginning of the group’s four decades long successful musical career.

With hits like “Baby, I Need Your Loving” in 1964 and “I Can’t Help Myself,” which infectiously became known as “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch” the year after, Four Tops became a rhythm and blues force to be reckoned with.

Payton, who hailed from Detroit, took the lead on songs like "Feel Free" from the Catfish album, as well as "Until You Love Someone" and "The Girl From Ipanema" from The Four Tops Live! album.

At the end of his career, he was awarded the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm-and-Blues Foundation. Payton died of liver cancer on June 20, 1997. He leaves behind a legacy of music and his son, Roquel Payton, who later joined the Four Tops in 2005.

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 (Photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns)


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