Thom Bell  

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Thom Bell was the record producer behind much of the Philadelphia soul subgenre of soul music in the 1970s. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica on January 26, 1943, but moved to Philadelphia as a child.


Bell was classically trained but as a teenager had sung with Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Daryl Hall (of Hall and Oates fame). Bell’s first big break in soul music came with Cameo Records in Philadelphia in 1967, where he was introduced to a local group called the Delfonics. Bell brought a smooth, lush style to soul, and his production talents yielded several big hits for the group including "La, La Means I Love You" and "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time?"

By 1972, Bell had left the Delfonics to produce another local group, The Stylistics, this time on Avco Records. By then he had teamed up with Philadelphia-born songwriter Linda Creed and Russell Thompkins Jr, lead singer with the Stylistics. This partnership generated three albums full of memorable tracks.

Shortly thereafter, Bell moved again, this time to Atlantic Records, to produce for The Spinners, who had long been with Motown Records but were not getting the attention they needed on a label packed with stars. Bell revitalised the group, producing five albums including chart success with singles such as "Ghetto Child" and "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love?". In 1976 an album followed with Dionne Warwick, Track of the Cat, but his work was beginning to lose its originality. Subsequently, Bell worked with artists such as Johnny Mathis, Billy Paul, Deniece Williams, James Ingram and Elton John, and even teamed up, briefly, with the Stylistics in 1981. It is for his success with the Philadelphia sound in the 1970s, particularly with the Stylistics and The Spinners, that he is remembered best. In June of 2006, Bell was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Production and/or songwriting highlights

See also

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