Happy birthday to the Reverend Al Green, who turns 75 years old today.
The Memphis soul legend is best known for his run of memorable singles during the early to mid 1970s, including the 1971 chart-topper “Let’s Stay Together,” and the 1972 top-five hits “I’m Still in Love with You” and “Look What You Done for Me.”
Green was born in Forrest City, Arkansas, and began singing in a gospel quartet while still a child. After moving with his family to Michigan in the late 1950s, he began singing in local soul groups. He scored an R&B hit in 1968 with his band The Soul Mates, and then was signed as a solo artist in 1969 to Memphis’ famous Hi Records.
Hi Records vice president Willie Mitchell produced all of Green’s albums from 1969 to 1976, and also co-wrote many of Al’s biggest hits. Other classic tunes Green recorded during this period include “Here I Am (Come and Take Me),” “Call Me (Come Back Home),” and “Take Me to the River.”
In 1974, Green was assaulted by a girlfriend who then committed suicide. This incident led to his decision to become an ordained minister, and for many years he gave up performing pop music, instead focusing on gospel. Al eventually returned to singing pop music, and in 1988 his duet with Eurythmics‘ Annie Lennox of Jackie DeShannon‘s “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” became a top-10 hit.
Among Green’s many career accolades are his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004. He also was saluted at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors. His most recent single, a cover of Freddy Fender‘s 1975 smash “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” was released in 2018.
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