TSOP: Thom Bell, 1943-2022

The Sound Of Philadelphia

Thom BellWhen Thom Bell died in late December 2022, I needed to link to some of his songs. After all, he, along with  “Mighty Three” partners Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, created “The Sound of Philadelphia,” which was “a dominant sound of the early and mid-’70s.”

As the page highlighting his induction into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame noted, he was “one of R and B music’s most prolific hitmakers…

“Born in 1943 in Jamaica, Bell studied classical music as a child… He learned to play multiple instruments and planned to become a classical conductor, but at age 22, he became a staff writer and touring conductor for The Twist singer Chubby Checker. He then earned his first production gig for a local group called the Delfonics in 1968…

“Bell’s early work set the stage for his style of production and arrangements. He created unique arrangements using seemingly odd instruments, such as sitars and bassoons, to create first-of-a-kind Soul sounds that others would try to emulate for years afterward. His productions tended to be lush and orchestral (influenced by his classical background) but with hot, pulsating beats and excellent vocal arrangements.”

(A) Brand New Me – Dusty Springfield, co-written by Kenneth Gamble and Jerry Butler (1969)

The Delfonics

All songs were co-written by William Hart, lead singer of the group.

La-La (Means I Love You) – #2 for four weeks RB,  #4 pop in 1968. Co-produced by Stan Watson.

Ready Or Not, Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love) – #14 RB, #35 pop, #41 in the UK in 1968. Co-produced by Stan Watson. The song has been sampled and interpolated in numerous songs, including Ready or Not by The Fugees

Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) – #3 RB for three weeks, #10 pop, #81 in Australia in 1970. #22 in the UK in 1971. Gold record. It won the Grammy for Best R and B Vocal Performance by a duo or group 

The Stylistics

Linda Creed co-wrote all songs.

Stop, Look, Listen (to Your Heart) -#6 RB, #39 pop in 1971

You Are Everything – #10 RB, #9 pop in 1972, gold record

Betcha By Golly, Wow –  #2 for two weeks RB, #3 pop in 1972, gold record. It was initially titled “Keep Growing Strong” and recorded by Connie Stevens on the Bell label in 1970.

People Make The World Go Round-# 6 RB, #25 pop, #25 adult contemporary in 1972

You Make Me Feel Brand New – #5 RB, #2 for two weeks pop  in 1974

The Spinners

Known as “Detroit Spinners” in the UK

I’ll Be Around-#1 for five weeks RB, #3 pop in 1972. Co-written by Phil Hurtt. “It was initially released as the B-side of the group’s first single on Atlantic Records, How Can I Let You Get Away.  The group’s first gold record

Ghetto Child – #4 RB, #29 pop in 1973. Co-written by Linda Creed.

The Rubberband Man – #1 RB, #2 for three weeks pop in 1976. Gold record. Co-written by Linda Creed. The song was about Bell’s son “being teased by his classmates for being overweight. Intended to improve his son’s self-image, the song eventually evolved from being about ‘The Fat Man’ to ‘The Rubberband Man.'” I own the album with the seven-minute version.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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