William Bell Biography

William Yarborough, 16 July 1937, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Having recorded in 1957 as part of the Del Rios, Bell emerged on the fledgling Stax Records with ‘You Don’t Miss Your Water’ (1961), a cornerstone in the development of country R&B. Military service sadly undermined his musical career, and on its resumption he found the label bursting with competition. His original songs, often composed with either Steve Cropper or Booker T. Jones, included ‘Share What You’ve Got’ (1966), ‘Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday’ (1967) and ‘Eloise’ (1967), while his effective homage to Otis Redding, ‘A Tribute To A King’, was genuinely moving. ‘Private Number’, a sumptuous duet with Judy Clay, provided one of his best-remembered releases, but a further US hit followed with ‘I Forgot To Be Your Lover’ (1968), which was remade into a US Top 10 pop hit by Billy Idol in 1986 as ‘To Be A Lover’. Bell moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1969 where he set up his Peach Tree label. His biggest hit came on signing to Mercury Records when ‘Tryin’ To Love Two’ (1976) was a US Top 10 single. During the 80s he enjoyed R&B successes on Kat Family and his own Wilbe Productions label, still endeavouring to develop southern soul styles. Bell’s creativity tailed off during the 90s with a series of inferior re-recorded versions of his classic hits. In 1997, he was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame. He continues to release albums of original material (New Lease On Life contains 11 new songs).

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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