Thursday, May 9, 2013

William Bell - Soul Of A Bell / Bound To Happen

 Another Stax guy who was both behind the scenes and out front on stage was William Bell. Bell was born William Yarborough in Memphis, TN in 1939; he took the stage name Bell as a tribute to his grandmother. He began his career as a backup singer for Rufus Thomas in 1957, had some minor success with a group The Del Rio's, followed Rufus to Stax in 1961 as a staff writer and soon as an artist as well.

Most of what was said about Eddie Floyd's role at Stax applies equally well to William Bell. He wrote, sang, produced and help to craft the Stax Sound. Bell's own "You Don't Miss Your Water" was an early hit for Stax in 1961 but just as he was getting rolling a two year hitch in the military set back a promising solo career. He returned to Stax after getting out but not until 1966-67 did he finally regain some traction with "Share What You Got (But Keep What You Need)" and "Everybody Loves a Winner", resulting in the fine LP 'Soul Of A Bell'. 1967 also saw his song (co-written with Booker T Jones) "Born Under A Bad Sign" scoring a big hit for Albert King.
 In 1968 Bell scored again with his "Tribute To A King" for the late Otis Redding. An album of duets yielded "Private Number" with Judy Clay but not much else that was memorable. Before the year was out Bell recorded "I Forgot To Be Your Lover", a Top 10 R&B hit for him and, 20 years later, a Top 10 Pop hit for Billy Idol. The album "Bound To Happen" followed in 1969.

 Bell stayed with Stax to the end, recording 3 or 4 more "nice" but not particularly successful albums. In 1976, the year after Stax folded, he had his biggest hit "Trying to Love Two," which topped the R&B charts for Mercury.

William Bell relocated to Atlanta and continued in the business in various capacities (including founding two labels) and recorded a number of locally successful albums. He still performs on occasion in R&B Legends shows. He has received honors as an R&B Pioneer and a W.C. Handy award.


KingCake said...

Soul Of A Bell
Bound To Happen

Preslives said...

Funny, I was just beginning to wonder when William Bell would show up here. I love his voice. Of the major early Stax vocalists, he is my favorite. Call me crazy, but I actually prefer his ballad singing to that of Otis Redding.

poppachubby said...

KC I am loving this look at Stax... thanks so much for these albums!!!

poppachubby said...

Oh man... Soul Of A Bell is just gorgeous, perfect. Preslives I don't think you're crazy, I always enjoyed Otis for his raucous side. Now - call ME crazy, but I find the early Stax sides much preferable to the later stuff. Even right down to the cover art.

wouter said...

thank you so much for Soul of a Bell, KC! i had been looking for it for some time, and i'm very happy to find it here!

btw: i completely agree with Poppa about the early stax sides being a lot better than the later ones.

pmac said...

Holy crap! Some of the best stuff posted yet (and that;s saying one hell of a lot!). Thanks, brother!

Jazzjet said...

Great share, KC. I've only got a Best Of collection by William Bell so this is a real treat. Many thanks.

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