The famous Al Green known for his many hits songs was born Albert Greene on April 13, 1946, in Dansby, a small town in Arkansas. Al Green became a popular soul singer whose hits include 1971’s “Let’s Stay Together.” While at the top of his career in the 1970s, Green became a reverend and chose to focus on gospel music.
Even after the Greene family moved to Michigan, the Greene Brothers continued touring on the gospel path. Green started a group called the Creations, which later became Al Greene and the Soul Mates after he was kicked out of the family home for listening to the secular music of Jackie Wilson, in 1968, they recorded the song “Back up Train”, releasing it on Hot Line Music. The song became a chart hit on the R&B charts, but the group broke up after a while and Al Green continued singing by himself.
In addition to these hit singles, Green also had radio hits with songs such as “Love and Happiness”, his cover of the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”, “Simply Beautiful”, “What a Wonderful Thing Love Is” and “Take Me to the River”, later covered successfully by new wave band Talking Heads and blues artist Syl Johnson.
Green continued to record successful R&B hits in the next several years including “Livin’ for You”, “Let’s Get Married”, “Sha-La-La (Makes Me Happy)”, “L-O-V-E (Love)” and “Full of Fire”.
By the time Green released the album, The Belle Album in 1977, however, Green’s record sales had plummeted, partially due to Green’s own personal issues during this time and his desire to become a minister. Al Green was born again as a Christian.
His life changed on October 18, 1974, when Mary Woodson, a woman who had walked away from her family to be with him, attacked him in his bathroom with a pan of boiling hot grits before committing suicide, Green received third degree burns.
During a concert in Cincinnati in 1979, Green fell off the stage and nearly injured himself seriously. Interpreting the accident as a sign from God, Green retired from performing secular music and devoted himself to preaching.
Throughout the ’80s, he released a series of gospel albums on Myrrh Records. In 1982, Green appeared in the gospel musical Your Arms Too Short to Box with God with Patti Labelle.
In 1992 Green signed a new deal with BMG Records and returned to the Memphis soul sound of his roots with Don’t Look Back, which featured production help from David Steele and Andy Cox (Fine Young Cannibals) and Arthur Baker (Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” and other early-Eighties electro-dance hits). Al Green was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2003, Green released the album I Can’t Stop, which was produced by his former collaborator, Willie Mitchell.
In 2009, Green teamed with Trinidadian R&B singer Heather Headley on a version of the soul classic “People Get Ready” for the Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration compilation. Al Green is a popular singer who has continued to touch the hearts of many.