Al Green

2014 Al Green

Al Green was well on his way to becoming the first great soul singer of the 70s when he was only nine years old. Born in Forest City, Arkansas, Green formed a gospel quartet called the Green Brothers when he was only nine. The brothers toured all around the South in the 50s and were quite a popular act. Their Southern tour ended when his family relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The group folded soon after they moved to the North when Green's father caught him listening to a Jackie Wilson album and forced the Green Brothers to retire.

But by the age of 16, Green was at it again. He formed and R&B group named Al Green and the Creations with friends from his high school. Two of the members of the Creations, Curtis Rogers and Palmer James, founded Hot Line Music Journal and signed the group to their new independent label. Before they started recording, the Creations were renamed the Soul Mates. In 1968 the band's first single, 'Back Up Train', hit number five on the R&B charts, much to the surprise of Green's family. Encouraged by their success, Soul Mates attempted to release another hit single, but all of their later songs failed in the ratings.

In 1969 Green signed with Hi Records after being discovered by the record company's president, Willie Mitchell. Green's debut album was released in 1970. Green is Blues was a groovy soul album that showcased Green's startling ability at hitting notes in falsetto. Though not a show-stopper, the album garnered praise from critics and fans. Green's breakthrough success came with his second album, also released in 1970. The album, titled Next To You, featured his first chart topping solo single. 'Tire of Being Alone' began by quickly being certified quadruple gold. Let's Stay Together, released in 1972, was an even bigger success. The album reached number eight on the pop charts and the title single found itself at number one. Even more success came with I'm Still in Love with You which reached number four on the charts and launched two hit singles: 'Look What You Done for Me' and 'I'm Still in Love with You'.

By 1973 Green's fame had spread worldwide. The success of his fifth album, Call Me, was no surprise. Singles 'Call Me', 'Here I Am', and 'Sha-La-La (Mae Me Happy)' kept Green at the top of the charts for the next two years. Much to the surprise of the world, Green's hits stopped coming, but not because his musical talent was waning. In 1974 Green's former girlfriend, Mary Woodson, broke into his home and poured boiling grits on him as he was bathing. She then took his gun and shot herself. After his second degree burns had healed, he was still very traumatized by the event. Green decided the attack was a sign from God that he should join the ministry. In 1976 he bought a church in Memphis and became an ordained pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle. He pursued religion with a passion, but still found time to release three new albums, Al Green Is Love, Full of Fire, and Have a Good Time. The sales of these albums were not as high as his previous works, mainly due to the disco phenomenon.

Over the next two decades Green continued to release records as well as preach. By the 80s his sound had turned more to gospel. He released a series of gospel albums in Myrrh Records which appealed to many faithful audiences across the country. He returned to R&B in the late 80s when he sang 'Put a Little Love in Your Heart' with Annie Lennox for the comedy feature 'Scrooged', starring Bill Murray. By 1995 he had come back into the industry with the release of Your Heart's in Good Hands, which was positively received by critics. Also in 1995, Green's accomplishments in furthering the progress of soul and R&B were recognized when he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.


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