Four Tops' Fakir reminisces about old Tigers teams

Susan Whitall
The Detroit News

Arriving early to sing the national anthem, Duke Fakir, senior member of the Four Tops, was reminded of some past Tigers teams, back in the festive '60s when seemingly every downtown bar was full of partying Tigers.

"1966 was my favorite team," Fakir reminisced. "I was friends with Willie Horton, Gates Brown, Earl Wilson. We were having fun all over town, every bar."

Fakir even owned a wine bar in the city.

Back then, Fakir noted, athletes and musicians not only hung out together, but were protected.

He recalled being in an afterhours place one time when the owner told him to jump out a window, the police had arrived.

Fakir jumped, but not before the club owner had to fight off two officers to give him time for a getaway.

Expect more such stories in the Four Tops musical Fakir says he is in meetings about with a Las Vegas producer.

Fakir and bandmates Spike Deleon, Ronnie McNeir and Lawrence Payton Jr. (son of the late Tops singer Lawrence Payton) have done the anthem at Comerica Park several times, always ending with a riff on their "Ain't No Woman" ("ain't no country like the one I got"), but the Tops never did it at the old Tiger stadium, Fakir didn't think.

Their four-part harmony was augmented backstage by the surprisingly strong vocals of Detroit-born actor J.K. Simmons.

"I guess I'm throwing the ball out, either before or after you guys sing the anthem," Simmons quipped.