'Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch?' Why The Four Tops Didn't Like 'I Can't Help Myself'

By Jacob Shelton
Portrait of the Four Tops featured on the cover of The Four Tops Second Album (1965).

Released on June 19, 1965, "I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" thrust The Four Tops into the mainstream with their first chart-topping hit. The quartet, formed in 1953, had been around the block a few times, with several record labels, before eventually landing at Motown, where they sang jazz standards and backup vocals on some of their label-mates' hits. In 1964, the Four Tops nearly made the Billboard Top Ten with "Baby I Need Your Loving," which peaked at #11 on the Hot 100. "Baby I Need Your Loving" was a composition of Motown's famous Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team; noting its success, Motown began to think that the Four Tops could be a significant act for the label. Then came "I Can't Help Myself" and its maddeningly catchy first line of "Sugar pie, honey bunch," which proved Motown's hunch beyond all doubt.