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Al Green

Albert Greene (born April 13, 1946), better known as Al Green, is an American gospel and soul music singer who enjoyed great popularity in the early and mid 1970s.

Early years

Green was born in Forrest City, Arkansas. The son of a sharecropper, he started performing at age nine in a Forrest City quartet called the Greene Brothers; he dropped the final "e" from his last name years later as a solo artist. They toured extensively in the mid-1950s in the South until the Greenes moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, when they began to tour around Michigan. His father kicked him out of the group because he caught Al listening to Jackie Wilson.

Green formed a group called Al Greene & the Creations in high school. Curtis Rogers and Palmer James, two members of the Creations, formed an independent label called Hot Line Music Journal. In 1967, under the new name Al Greene & the Soul Mates, the band recorded "Back Up Train" and released it on Hot Line Music; the song was an R&B chart hit. The Soul Mates' subsequent singles did not sell as well. Green came into contact with band leader Willie Mitchell of Memphis' Hi Records in 1969, when Mitchell hired him as a vocalist for a Texas show with Mitchell's band and then asked him to sign with the label.

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), was a massive success that included four gold singles as Green developed his vocal and songwriting talents. 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 the song "Take Me to the River" covered by the Talking Heads on their second album.


On October 18, 1974, Mary Woodson, a woman who wanted to be Green's girlfriend, snuck into his bathroom and threw a large pot of sticky boiling grits on him as he was preparing to shower. She committed suicide in minutes, which deeply affected Green to turn to God and religion. Investigations found that she had done this because she suffered a mental breakdown which caused her to interpret him as having rejected her wish to discuss marriage with him, even though their relationship had never progressed past friendship. This assault from behind caused third-degree burns on his back, stomach and arm. Deeply shaken, Green continued to reaffirm and grow closer to his deeply held love for God, and became an ordained pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis in 1976. Continuing to record R&B, Green saw his sales start to slip and the critics grew steadily harsher.

1977's The Belle Album was critically acclaimed but did not regain his former mass audience. In 1979, Green was injured while performing, and interpreted this accident as a message from God. He then concentrated his energies towards pastoring his church and gospel singing, also appearing in 1982 with Patti Labelle in the Broadway musical Your Arms Too Short to Box with God. His first gospel album was The Lord Will Make a Way. From 1981 to 1989 Green recorded a series of gospel recordings, garnering eight "soul gospel performance" Grammys in that period. In 1984 director Robert Mugge released a documentary film, Gospel According to Al Green, including interviews about his life and footage from his church.

Return to R&B

After spending several years exclusively performing gospel, Green began to return to R&B. First, he released a duet with Annie Lennox, "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" for Scrooged, a 1988 Bill Murray film. In 1989 Green worked with producer Arthur Baker writing and producing the international hit "The Message Is Love". His 1994 duet with country music singer Lyle Lovett blended country with R&B, garnering him his ninth Grammy, this time in a pop music category. Green's first secular album in some time was Your Heart's In Good Hands (1995), released to positive reviews but disappointing sales, the same year Green was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 2000, Green published Take Me to the River, a book discussing his career. Green received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.

By 2003 Green released a non-religious (secular) album entitled I Can't Stop, his first collaboration with Willie Mitchell since 1985's He is the Light. In March 2005 he issued Everything's Ok as the follow up to I Can't Stop. Green also collaborated with Mitchell on this secular CD.

In 2004, Green was inducted into the Gospel Music Association's Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Green still continues to tour, and to preach at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, Tennessee. Also in 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #65 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Most recently, Al Green has been in the studio with The Roots' Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, working on Green's next album for Blue Note Records.



  • Back Up Train (1967)
  • Green Is Blues (1969) # 19 US
  • Al Green Gets Next to You (1971) # 58 US
  • Let's Stay Together (1972) # 8 US
  • I'm Still in Love with You (1972) # 4 US
  • Call Me (1973) # 10 US
  • Livin' for You (1973) # 24 US
  • Al Green Explores Your Mind (1974) # 15 US
  • Al Green Is Love (1975) # 28 US
  • Al Green's Greatest Hits (1975) # 17 US, # 18 UK
  • Full of Fire (1976) # 59 US
  • Have a Good Time (1976) # 93 US
  • The Belle Album (1977) # 103 US
  • Al Green's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1977) # 134 US
  • Truth N' Time (1978)
  • The Lord Will Make a Way (1980)
  • Higher Plane (1981)
  • Tokyo Live (1981)
  • Precious Lord (1982)
  • I'll Rise Again (1983)
  • The Christmas Album (1983)
  • Trust in God (1984)
  • He is the Light (1985)
  • White Christmas (1986)
  • Soul Survivor (1987) # 131 US
  • Hi Life - The Best of Al Green (1988) # 34 UK
  • I Get Joy (1989)
  • Love is Reality (1992)
  • Gospel Soul (1993)
  • Your Heart's in Good Hands (1995)
  • Don't look back (1997)
  • Take Me to the River (compilation) (2000) # 186 US
  • Feels Like Christmas (2001)
  • Love - The Essential Al Green (2002) # 18 UK
  • I Can't Stop (2003) # 53 US
  • The Love Songs Collection (compilation) (2003) # 91 US
  • Everything's OK (2005)
  • The Best Of Al Green (2007)

Hit singles

  • 1971 "Tired of Being Alone" # 11 US, # 4 UK
  • 1972 "Let's Stay Together" # 1 US, # 7 UK
  • 1972 "I'm Still in Love with You" # 3 US, # 35 UK
  • 1972 "Look What You Done for Me" # 4 US, # 44 UK
  • 1972 "You Ought to be with Me" # 3 US
  • 1973 "Call Me (Come Back Home)" # 10 US
  • 1973 "Here I am (Come and Take Me)" # 10 US
  • 1974 "Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)" # 7 US, # 20 UK
  • 1974 "Let's Get Married" # 32 US
  • 1974 "Livin' for You" # 19 US
  • 1975 "L-O-V-E (Love)" # 13 US, # 24 UK
  • 1975 "Full of Fire" # 28 US
  • 1977 "Keep Me Cryin'" # 37 US
  • 1988 "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" (with Annie Lennox) # 9 US, # 28 UK
  • 1989 "The Message is Love" (Arthur Baker and The Backbeat Disciples featuring Al Green) # 38 UK
  • 1993 "Love is A Beautiful Thing" # 56

Movie soundtracks

  • "Here I Am" was featured in the movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" was featured in the movies Notting Hill, Good Will Hunting and The Virgin Suicides.
  • "Let's Stay Together" was used in the soundtrack of the movies, Pulp Fiction (1994), Love Don't Cost a Thing (2003), and Hellboy (2005).
  • "Love Is A Beautiful Thing" was featured in the movies The Pallbearer (1996), Legally Blonde (2001), Sorority Boys (2002) and Two Weeks Notice (2002)
  • "Tired of Being Alone" was featured in the movie Love Don't Cost a Thing (2003) "Love and Happiness" was featured in the movie Love and Basketball (2000)The song was also featured in the movie Dead Presidents.