Albert Greene (born April 13, 1946), better known as Al Green, is an American gospel and soul music singer. He reached the peak of his popularity in the 1970s, with hit singles such as "You Oughta Be With Me," "I'm Still In Love With You," "Love and Happiness", and "Let's Stay Together". In 2005, Rolling Stone named him #65 in their list of the '100 Greatest Artists of All Time'. The nomination, written by Justin Timberlake, stated that "people are born to do certain things, and Al was born to make us smile." The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Green in 1995, referring to him as "one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music." Green has sold more than 20 million records.
Green was born in Forrest City, Arkansas where he formed a gospel quartet, the Green Brothers, at the age of nine. The group toured throughout the South in the mid- '50s, before the family relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Green Brothers continued to perform in Grand Rapids, but Al's father kicked the boy out of the group after he caught his son listening to Jackie Wilson. At the age of 16, Al formed an R&B group, Al Green & the Creations, with several of his high-school friends. Two Creation members, Curtis Rogers and Palmer James, founded their own independent record company, Hot Line Music Journal, and had the group record for the label. By that time, the Creations had been re-named the Soul Mates. The group's first single, "Back Up Train," became a surprise hit, climbing to number five on the R&B charts early in 1968. The Soul Mates attempted to record another hit, but all of their subsequent singles failed to find an audience. In 1969, Al Green met bandleader and Hi Records vice president Willie Mitchell while on tour in Midland, Texas. Impressed with Green's voice, he signed the singer to Hi Records, and began collaborating with Al on his debut album.
Rise to stardom
Mitchell predicted stardom for Green, coaching him to find his own, unique voice at a time when Green had previously been trying to sing like his heroes Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, and Sam Cooke. Green's debut album with Hi Records was Green Is Blues, a slow, horn-driven album that allowed Green to show off his powerful and expressive voice, with Mitchell arranging, engineering and producing. The album was a moderate success. The next LP, Al Green Gets Next to You (1970), included a hit remake of the Temptations classic "I Can't Get Next to You", and more significantly, Green's first of seven consecutive gold singles, "Tired of Being Alone". Let's Stay Together (1972) was an even bigger success, as was I'm Still In Love With You (1972). Call Me was a critical sensation and just as popular at the time; it is one of his most fondly remembered albums today. Al Green Explores Your Mind (1974) contained his own song "Take Me to the River", which was later turned into an R&B hit (#7) by label-mate Syl Johnson and also covered by Talking Heads (#26 Pop) on their second album.
Full article ▸