Remember this name if you don’t know it already: Al Green. The Reverend Al Green to you. Cause you know this sound. It’s a sound like no other—his voice. It’s the soundtrack for the lonely. And the background music for lovers too. Whenever I’m hurtin’, lovesick or otherwise, he helps me through. Me and millions of others. And we’re incredibly lucky—he’s still walkin’ the earth alongside us. Some call him “The Last of the Great Soul Singers,” cause there’s just no one like him left.
The man was born Albert Greene, in Forrest City, Arkansas to a devoutly Christian family. He started performing in a gospel group around the age of ten, and developed a liking for gospel greats like Mahalia Jackson. One problem. He liked Mahalia, sure. But he LOVED Elvis Presley. And Wilson Pickett. The “hip shakers” he called em. And that got him in trouble. One night his dad caught him listening to some Jackie Wilson. And kicked him right out of the house. No devil music allowed there.
But thank heaven he listened to that devilish stuff. ‘Cause even though Al Green would come back around to Christianity, and become an ordained minister, that hip-shaking foundation led him to write some of the grooviest songs of all time. Like this one, “Love and Happiness.”
(b. April 13, 1946)
Albert Leornes “Al” Greene, born April 13, 1946 in Forrest City, Arkansas, best known as The Reverend Al Green, is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. In the early 1970s, he churned out a series of soul hits, including “Take Me to the River”, “Tired of Being Alone”, “I’m Still in Love with You”, “Love and Happiness” and “Let’s Stay Together”—which made him a star.
Al grew up in a devout Christian family, and was actually kicked out of the house by his father for listening to Jackie Wilson. Shortly after, founded a group called the Creations, which later became Al Greene and the Soul Mates. The Soul Mates had a hit in 1968 “Back Up Train,” which brought them to New York City’s Apollo Theater. Following that success, Green hooked up with producer Willie Mitchell, who became his vocal coach, training him to find his own voice.
He recorded a number of albums with moderate success, but it wasn’t until his album “Lets Stay Together” that he was really put on the soul map.
In 1973, Green was born again as a Christian, and set his sights on becoming a minister. He recorded a few more secular albums, but after ’78, only released gospel music for a number of years.
The Reverend Green still performs to this day, especially at his Memphis church, the Full Gospel Tabernacle, where he preaches on Sundays.