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"Reach Out I'll Be There" (also formatted as "Reach Out (I'll Be There)") is a 1966 hit song recorded by the Four Tops for the Motown label. Written and produced by Motown's main production team Holland-Dozier-Holland, the song is one of the most well-known Motown tunes of the 1960s and is today considered The Tops' signature song. It was the number one song on the R&B charts for two weeks,. and on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, from September 24 1966 to October 15. It replaced "Cherish" by The Association, and was itself replaced by "96 Tears" by Question Mark & the Mysterians. Rolling Stone later ranked this version #206 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. This version is also currently ranked as the 36th best song of all time, as well as the #3 song of 1966, in an aggregation of critics' lists at

Lead singer Levi Stubbs delivers many of the lines in the song in a tone that straddles the line between singing and shouting, like he did in 1965's "I Can't Help Myself ".

This song differs markedly from the Four Tops' earlier efforts, due to the highly-contrasting shifts between minor and major, and also major and augmented chords. These contrasting tonal shades form the hook for which the song is so well known. The Four Tops would rely on this formula for several subsequent releases.

The song is featured prominently in the final scene and the closing credits of the 1975 motion picture Cooley High, a coming-of-age film starring Glynn Turman and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs.

PWL remixed the song in 1988. The remix was done by Phil Harding & Ian Curnow. The 12" Remix runs 6:05 and the Radio Edit runs 3:10.


Only weeks after the original release, Jamaican soul singer Derrick Harriott recorded and released a version of this pop soul hit on his own Crystal label in Kingston, Jamaica (reissued on Gaz Mayall's Top Ska Tunes, Trojan 2004).

Petula Clark recorded a version for her 1967 album Colour My World/Who Am I.

Merrilee Rush recorded what many consider a psychedelic version of the song in 1968. Titled simply "Reach Out", the single on the AGP label only made it to #79 on Billboard's Hot 100 in December, 1968.

Diana Ross scored a Top 40 remake of the Four Tops' classic taking it to number twenty-nine on the Hot 100 in 1971. It was the second release from Ross' third solo album, Surrender, in just a year. Ross' version was produced by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, and was built around the same thematic basis that made Ross' 1970 remake of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" a success. Ross' cover is the best known and most successful cover of the song.

Gloria Gaynor performed a disco version in 1975.

Claude Fran├žois recorded a version in French that was titled J'attendrai. The song has no relation to the 1939 French son also named J'attendrai.

Famed drummer/producer/singer Narada Michael Walden performed a version of the tune on his 1983 album Looking at You, Looking at Me, and it became a moderate R&B hit.

Punk rock band Snuff released a version of the song on their covers album Flibbidydibbidydob.

Elton John's 1989 single "Healing Hands" was directly inspired by this song. Its chorus starts with the line "And reach out / for her healing hands".

Michael Bolton covered this song from his 1992 compilation album Timeless: The Classics.

The song inspired the 2003 film I'll Be There featuring Charlotte Church.

Michael McDonald also recorded a version for his album, Motown Two (2004), the follow-up to his album Motown (2003).

Bill Cosby recorded a humorous version of the song for his album Hooray for the Salvation Army Band, with sillier lyrics.

Boyz II Men covered this song during a live medley on UK reality talent show The X Factor in October 2007.

Clare Teal also covered this song on her 2007 album Paradisi Carousel.

Meat Puppets were known to cover this song live in the early 1980's.

The Human League did an instrumental version of this song which was released on a demo compact cassette.

Serbianmarker 1980s group Oktobar 1864 covered this song in Serbian and had hit with it.

Efrat Gosh covered this song in 2007 alongside local Israeli group "Red Band".

Richie Kotzen covered this song from his 1994 studio album Mother Head's Family Reunion.

The Swedish band Anywhen covered this song on their 1993 studio album As We Know It.

Use in other music

The song's introduction is sampled extensively throughout The Field's "Action".


See also


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