April 1965: The Four Tops Release "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)"

NEW YORK - 1965: R&B vocal group 'The Four Tops' pose for a portait on the roof of their agent's apartment building in 1965 in New York City, New York. (L-R) Ronaldo 'Obie' Benson, Abdul 'Duke' Fakir, Levi Stubbs, Lawrence Payton. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Photo Credit
(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The story behind the Four Tops' perennial 1965 classic, "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" all begins with inspiration from an old-school Detroit player.

RELATED: February 1966: The Four Tops Record "Wake Me, Shake (When It's Over)"

"I stayed with my grandmother when I was a kid," songwriter Lamont Dozier of the legendary  Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team said in the  behind-the-scenes video for his 2018 Reimagination album. "She owned her own home beauty shop, and when the women would come up the walkway to get their hair done, my grandfather would be pedaling around in the garden. He was a bit of a flirt, and would say, 'How you doin', sugar pie? Good morning, honey bunch.' He was one of those types of guys. My grandmother had a big bay window to the front of the house. She'd say, 'Look at that old codger - he thinks I don't see. I know what he's doing.' He was just flirting with his big smile. I'm sitting there on the porch watching this - I'm probably 11 or 12. I was like a sponge, soaking it up.

"Years later, at Motown, I'm sitting at the piano," Dozier continued. "I'd take these mind trips back to my childhood, and I'm trying to see what this piano part is telling me. Sure enough, there my grandfather is, pedaling in the garden. That memory comes to my mind's eye, and I know where the song is supposed to go. I hear him saying, 'Good morning, sugar pie. How you doin', honey bunch?' That's what started it."

Released as a single on the iconic Motown label on April 23, 1965, the Four Tops' "I Can't Help Myself" (the parenthetical addition came later) soared up the charts to achieve the group's first #1 on the mainstream Hot 100 chart for the week of June 19, 1965. It would be dethroned the following week by the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man," but would reclaim the crown for the week of July 3, 1965. On July 10, it would fall to the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

At the end of the year, Billboard would cite the song as the #2 song of 1965. At #1: Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs' "Wooly Bully."

Artist Name

Read More

(Tamla/Motown)
The first LP of Wonder's "classic" period began with the March 3, 1972 release of this seminal album.
article column overlay
(YouTube)
All it took was the hottest soap opera of the year to adopt it as a love theme.
article column overlay
Echoes/Redferns
2020 introduction: Brass Construction, recent inductees into The SoulMusic Hall Of Fame in the ‘Funk Group’ category, hit the ground running in 1976 when their first self-titled LP became a platinum-certified million-selling R&B and pop success. By the end of the same year, “Brass Construction II” was on its way to gold status...
article column overlay

Facebook Comments