When Al Green drew himself a bath on a troubled night in 1977, he had no idea his life was about to change. All of a sudden his girlfriend, with whom he'd just had a row, burst through the door and... [more]
When Al Green drew himself a bath on a troubled night in 1977, he had no idea his life was about to change. All of a sudden his girlfriend, with whom he'd just had a row, burst through the door and slung a bowl of sizzling grits across his body. As he screamed in agony, she put the butt of a gun to her mouth and ended her life. It was a pivotal moment in Al Green's life, a moment of epiphany. He gave up singing soul and pop, turned to strict gospel, and dedicated the rest of his life to the love of God.
Green didn't come to gospel as a novice. He'd been inundated with the music while growing up in a poor Alabama family of sharecroppers. But Green had turned his back on religion with his first band, Al Green and the Soulmates. While his father protested that his singing had become "profane," Al's rebellion earned him a number-five hit on the R&B charts. Still he wasn't satisfied.
In 1969 Green formed a partnership with producer Willi Mitchell, thus becoming a powerhouse of pop music. Their first album together, "Green is Blues," showcased the silken yet primal voice that Green used to push soul into a new stratosphere. Taking up where Sam Cooke and Otis Redding left off, Green established a crossover appeal by fusing gospel directly to pop.
1973's "Let's Stay Together" secured Green's status as a legend. The title track hit number one on every chart in the country, and became the anthem of a nation struggling to find its identity after the troubled chaos of the late '60s. Green would assimilate the hippie ideal of love into African American traditions of soul and blues, thus earning himself the appellation "the voice of love." Director Quentin Tarrantino helped introduce these sounds to his own generation by including "Let's Stay Together" in "Pulp Fiction."
"I'm Still in Love with You" is Green's all-time biggest selling album. Raunchy in tone, it features the swinging and seductive soul anthem "Love and Happiness." The track begins with Green's falsetto swimming the scales, pausing here and there for reflection. Next, drummer Mabon "Teenie" Hodges picks up the rhythm, stamping on a Coke box (which his foot happened to be resting on). The organ slides in, transporting the listener on a journey of euphoric feeling that goes beyond the mere words of the lyrics.
Green's ministry of love, happiness, and euphoria had a seamy side comprised of drugs and womanizing, which provided the seedbed for the disaster of 1977 and the prodigal son's return to the fold. In 1980 Green produced his first all-gospel recording. Never having won a Grammy, he would now collect eight of them over a prolific gospel career.
Today you can see the Reverend Green at a small church in Memphis, four traffic lights past Graceland. His Rolls parked out front to announce his presence, the church fills every Sunday with those who come to hear Green impart the word of God. In 1995, Green was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [show less]