Al Green

  • R&B, soul and gospel singer songwriter born Albert Greene in 1946, from Forrest City Arkansas. Also known as The Reverend Al Green.
  • He began performing at the age of 10 with his brothers in a group called The Greene Brothers. His family moved to Grand Rapids Michigan, and he was kicked out of the house by his father in his teens, for listening to soul music instead of gospel music. In high school, he formed a group called Al Greene & The Creations, and in 1967, the name was changed to Al Greene & The Soul Mates. They recorded a song, Back Up Train, which was released on an independent label, and was a hit, reaching #5 on the R&B chart. Green’s debut album of the same name also was released in 1967 – it did not credit The Creations, and the spelling of his name included the ‘e’ at the end.
  • In 1969, Green was hired by Willie Mitchell to be a vocalist at a show in Texas, and Mitchell soon signed him to a recording contract. Mitchell coached Green to develop his own voice, and not to try to sound like other singers like James Brown or Wilson Pickett. Green released his first album with his new record company in 1969 – officially removing the ‘e’ at the end of his name. Green Is Blue was moderately successful, reaching #19 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and #3 on the R&B album chart – though none of the songs charted as singles. Al Green Gets Next To You was released in 1971, and had greater success – it included his breakout single Tired Of Being Alone, which peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and at #7 on the R&B. It also was his highest charting song in the UK, at #4.
  • 1972 was the peak of his success. He released his 2 biggest albums that year – Let’s Stay Together and I’m Still In Love With You. They were the first of 6 consecutive #1 albums on the R&B chart, and both were top 10 albums on the crossover album chart. His signature song Let’s Stay Together reached #1 on the Hot 100, and he had top 5 hits with Look What You Done For Me and the song I’m Still In Love With You. 
  • Green had 2 more gold albums in 1973. Call Me included the hits You Ought To Be With Me, Call Me (Come Back Home) and Here I Am (Come and Take Me). All 3 were #1 or #2 on the R&B chart. His album Livin’ For You had 2 more hits – the title track Livin’ For You and Let’s Get Married. 
  • Green had 2 more #1 R&B albums, in 1974 and 1975 – Al Green Explores Your Mind and Al Green is Love. His last Hot 100 top 20 songs came from these albums – Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy) and L-O-V-E. 
  • His music later in the 70s was less popular, as Green was interested in becoming a minister. He was ordained a pastor in 1976. Beginning in 1980, he released only gospel music for 13 years, releasing 11 albums. He won 8 Grammy awards in the gospel category. In 1982, he starred on Broadway in the revival of the musical play Your Arms Too Short To Box With God. 
  • He performed a duet with Annie Lennox in 1988, Put A Little Love In Your Heart, which was featured in the soundtrack for the film Scrooged. The single reached #9 in the Hot 100 chart – his first song to hit the chart in 10 years. In 1994, he collaborated with Lyle Lovett on the Willie Nelson song Funny How Time Slips Away, which won Green his 9th Grammy award. In 1993, he returned to popular music with the album Don’t Look Back and continued with 4 more albums from 1995 to 2008. Several of the songs from these albums made it to the R&B chart, and the last album, Lay It Down, was his first studio album to crack the top 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart since 1973.
  • Al Green was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and in 2014, he was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient. He is ranked #65 on Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest Artists of All Time. The song Let’s Stay Together makes the Rolling Stone list of Greatest Songs of All Time, at #65, and it was selected by the Library of Congress for the National Recording Registry in 2010.
  • Listen to the amazing soul voice of the man known as The Last of the Great Soul Singers, from a Soul Train episode in 1973 – Love and Happiness (which also is on the Rolling Stone GOAT list, at #98).

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