Talented Songwriters Renaldo 'Obie' Benson and Lawrence Payton, of The Four Tops.
"I explained my predicament to Lawrence " says Fred. "and straight away he asked me if I'd be interested in running the Four Tops new studio couple of doors up. I liked the thought of working with my old friends and jumped at the chance.

Initially the Tops had set up an office, a studio, a rehearsal room and a store next door to Dink, so it made sense for them to expand a bit more and take over this other studio.

So I became the Tops A&R guy, in effect a Mr Fixit, who managed the studios, auditioned the groups, vetted the songs and even oversaw the financial transactions of the company.

Lawrence was the Tops music man and it was great to link up with him again.

We wrote a number of songs together during those days. Some of which ended up with ABC Records, like 'Catfish', 'We all gotta stick together', 'Feel free'. Obie (Renaldo) Benson also wrote a couple of tunes with me too. There was also an album called 'Catfish' in 1976.

But we cut other stuff, like Levi singing 'Give me just a little more time', which remains in the can to this day.

We also cut groups from around town one of which included singer Belita Woods. Man she was good, real good.

It was a busy place and when the Tops would come back off the road I would have to find them some studio time to cut this new material. That became a bit of a problem however, as George Clinton was block booking United for weeks on end during the height of his Parliament-Funkadelic thang.

It was tough, but George respected us and we got slotted in."


Notes thanks to David Meikle.

Photograph courtesy of Blues & Soul Magazine

Label scans courtesy MotorCityMusic


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