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Profile: Al Green

By

Al Green

Al Green

source: kalamu.com

Born:

Albert Greene, April 13, 1946, Forrest City, AR

Genres:

R&B, Soul, Pop-Soul, Funk, Blues, Gospel, Pop

Instruments:

Vocals

Contributions to music:

  • The most popular soul singer of the Seventies
  • Brought Southern Soul into the smooth R&B era
  • One of rock music's greatest romantics
  • His vocals were a major influence on every R&B singer that followed
  • With the Hi rhythm section and producer Willie Mitchell, created a funky, sweet version of soul that is unmatched in its seductiveness
  • Sang about spiritual love and secular love in a way that made them seem interchangable
  • Almost singlehandedly brought R&B back into gospel upon his conversion, setting up the template for most modern black religious music

Early years:

By the age of nine, Al Green was singing professionally, touring with a group of siblings known as The Greene Brothers. But even at an early age, the battle between the secular and the spiritual was raging within him: Al's father kicked him out of the group after catching him listening to Jackie Wilson. Heavily influenced by Wilson and Sam Cooke, Al followed their lead, forming an R&B group called The Creations (later the Soul Mates) in Grand Rapids, MI, where the family had re-located. The group scored a Top Ten R&B hit with 1967's "Back Up Train," but subsequent efforts failed to match that success.

Success:

Band leader and head of Memphis' Hi label, Willie Mitchell, hired Green for a show in Texas in 1969, and was so impressed with the results he signed him as a solo act. Their first collaboration, an LP entitled Green Is Blues, got some notice, but it wasn't until 1971's hit "Tired Of Being Alone" that the two hit on the formula they would work for most of the decade: gutbucket soul on the bottom, sweet romanticism on top. Green went on to score 15 Top Ten R&B hits (including six Number Ones), all of which crossed over to the pop charts.

Later years:

In 1974, at the height of his popularity, Green was attacked by his girlfriend, Mary Woodson, while in the bathtub. Upset over the singer's refusal to marry her, she poured hot grits on his naked body, giving him second-degree burns, then killed herself with his gun. That and a bad fall at a 1979 concert encouraged Green to give up secular music and return to gospel, becoming one of the genre's most successful artists in the Eighties. Al dabbled with straight soul for years and returned fulltime in the early 21st century with some acclaimed albums for Blue Note, although he continues to sing gospel at times.

Other facts:

  • Has been an ordained minister sinc 1976 and has maintained a ministry at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, TN
  • Recorded all of his most famous pop hits at Memphis' Royal Recording Studio, which, like Stax, was a converted movie theater
  • The famous Hi label band that accompanied Green consisted of brothers Mabon "Teenie" Hodges (guitar), Leroy Hodges (bass), Charles Hodges (organ and piano), as well as drummer Howard Grimes
  • Booker T. and the MGs drummer Al Jackson co-wrote and played on many of Green's biggest hits
  • Has claimed that "Let's Stay Together" was written to heal a crisis-torn nation, and not about a woman

Awards/Honors:

  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1995)
  • GRAMMY Awards (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1994)
  • GRAMMY Hall of Fame (1999)
  • Songwriters Hall of Fame (2004)
  • Hollywood Walk Of Fame (2005)

Recorded work:

#1 hits:
Pop:
  • "Let's Stay Together" (1972)
R&B:
  • "Let's Stay Together" (1972)
  • "I'm Still In Love With You" (1972)
  • "You Ought To Be With Me" (1972)
  • "Livin' For You" (1974)
  • "L-O-V-E (Love)" (1975)
  • "Full Of Fire" (1975)
Top 10 hits:
Pop:
  • "Let's Stay Together" (1972)
  • "I'm Still In Love With You" (1972)
  • "Look What You Done For Me" (1972)
  • "You Ought To Be With Me" (1972)
  • "Call Me (Come Back Home)" (1973)
  • "Here I Am (Come And Take Me)" (1973)
  • "Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)" (1974)
R&B:
  • "Tired Of Being Alone" (1971)
  • "Look What You Done For Me" (1972)
  • "Call Me (Come Back Home)" (1973)
  • "Here I Am (Come And Take Me)" (1973)
  • "Let's Get Married" (1974)
  • "Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)" (1974)
  • "Oh Me, Oh My (Dreams In My Arms)" (1975)
  • "Keep Me Cryin'" (1976)
  • "Belle" (1977)
#1 albums:
R&B:
  • Let's Stay Together (1972)
  • I'm Still In Love With You (1972)
  • Call Me (1973)
  • Livin' For You (1974)
  • Al Green Explores Your Mind (1975)
  • Al Green Is Love (1975)
Gospel:
  • Soul Survivor (1987)
Top 10 albums:
Pop:
  • Let's Stay Together (1972)
  • I'm Still In Love With You (1972)
  • Call Me (1973)
R&B:
  • Green Is Blues (1973)
  • Greatest Hits (1975)
  • Call Me (1973)
  • I Can't Stop (2004)
Gospel:
  • I'll Rise Again (1983)
  • Trust in God (1984)
Other important recordings: "Back Up Train," "What Am I Gonna Do With Myself?" "I Can't Get Next To You," "Take Me To The River," "What A Wonderful Thing Love Is," "Funny How Time Slips Away," "For The Good Times," "Jesus Is Waiting," "How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?," "Love And Happiness," "My God Is Real," "Strong As Death (Sweet As Love)," "Have A Good Time"
Appears in the movies: "Putney Swope" (1969), "The Gospel According to Al Green" (1984), "Beverly Hills Cop III" (1994), "On The Line" (2001), "Soulsville" (2003)

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