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william bell

William Bell

b. William Yarborough, 16th July 1939, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.

William Bell hails Memphis, Tennessee.

He is an accomplished singer and songwriter, recording in the mid Sixties, initially for the Stax Records imprint.

William Bell was born in Memphis, Tennessee.

He adopted the surname ‘Bell’ (as a stage name) after his grandmother, whose first name was Belle.

His hit records include, ‘You Don't Miss Your Water’ (in 1961), ‘Private Number’ (recorded as a duet with Judy Clay, in 1968), and ‘Tryin' to Love Two’ (in 1976).

As a songsmith, William has penned the Chuck Jackson hit ‘Any Other Way’, and the Albert King and Cream song, ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’.

William began recording back in the 1950’s.

Around 1954 and 1955 William won a talent contest at Memphis' annual Mid-South fair.

Red Saunders

red saunders (on drums) at club delisa in 1942

The first prize was 500 dollars along with a trip to Chicago to sing at the famous Club Delisa for a weekend with The Red Saunders Band.

Whilst with Red Saunders, Red recommended William to Phineas Newborn, who enlisted him into his own band.


the del-rios

In 1955, William was recording with the The Del-Rios (whose group members included William Bell, Louis Williams, Norman West and James Taylor)  with Rufus Thomas' Bearcats (whose group members included Harrison Austin, Melvin Jones and David Brown).

William BellWilliam Bell

alone on a rainy night b/w lizzie - 1955 / heavenly angel b/w dangerous lover - 1959

The group were signed to the Meteor Records imprint, releasing ‘Alone On A Rainy Night’ b/w ‘Lizzie’ in 1955.

They later relocated to BET Records for ‘Heavenly Angel’ b/w ‘Dangerous Lover’ in 1959.

In 1961, William signed to Stax Records, releasing ‘You Don't Miss Your Water’ b/w ‘Formula Of Love’ the same year, a track later covered by The Byrds and Taj Mahal.

William recorded as a solo artist, as well as recording with the Del-Rios, whilst he established himself at Stax.


there's a love b/w just across the street - 1962

The group released ‘Just Across The Street’ b/w ‘There's A Love’ in 1962.

William was then drafted into U.S. Army between 1962 and 1966.

On leaving the services in 1966, he released the R&B hit, ‘Share What You Got (But Keep What You Need)’ b/w ‘Marching Off To War’, and a year later he penned ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ with Booker T. Jones.

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the soul of a bell - 1967 / duets - 1968 / bound to happen - 1969 / wow...-1971

In 1968, he joined forces with Judy Clay for the national hit ‘Private Number’ b/w ‘Love-Eye-Tis’.

Further duets followed, in 1968 - 1969, featuring Carla Thomas and Mavis Staples.

The same year he released the ballad ‘I Forgot to Be Your Lover’ b/w ‘Bring The Curtain Down’, which has later become heavily sampled by R&B artists (Word of Mouf and Jaheim), and became a U.S. Top 10 pop hit by Billy Idol in 1986 under the title of ‘To Be a Lover’.

He moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1969 where he set up his Peachtree imprint (whose artist roster included Mitty Collier).

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phases of reality - 1972 / relating - 1973 / coming back for more - 1976 / it's time you took another listen - 1977

William stayed at Stax Records, until the label folded in 1975, releasing several successful albums.

He then relocated to the Mercury imprint, where, in 1976, he topped Billboard 's Hot Soul Singles chart with the song ‘Tryin' to Love Two’ b/w ‘If Sex Was All We Had’ (the A side later successfully recorded by the singer Barbara Lynn).

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survivor - 1983 / passion - 1985 / on a roll 1989 / bedtime stories - 1992

In the mid eighties, William set up the Wilbe imprint, releasing ‘Passion’ in 1985.

‘Passion featured the songs ‘I Don't Want to Wake Up Feeling Guilty’ b/w ‘Whatever You Want You Got It’, a duet with Janice Bullock, along with ‘Headline News’ b/w ‘Let Him Pay The Band’ entered the U.K. Singles Chart, and was very popular on the Soul stations.

William BellWilliam Bell

a portrait is forever - 2001 / new lease of life - 2006

In 2001 he released the album ‘A Portrait Is Forever’, which was followed by 2006’s ‘New Lease of Life’, both recorded for his Wilbe Records imprint.

The 2010 sci-fi thriller Repo Men featured William’s 1967 release ‘Every Day Will Be A Holiday’ b/w ‘Ain't Got No Girl’.

In 2012, he joined Sinead O'Connor, Mavis Staples, The Roots, amongst others at the Lincoln Center for concert celebrating the 70th birthday of the late Curtis Mayfield.

William Bell

Real Player


The Soul Of A Bell (Stax Records 1967)

Duets (Stax Records 1968)

Tribute To A King (Stax Records 1968)

Bound To Happen (Stax Records 1969)

Wow... William Bell (Stax Records 1971)

Phases Of Reality (Stax Records 1973)

Relating (Stax Records 1974)

Coming Back For More (Mercury Records 1976)

It's Time You Took Another Listen (Mercury Records 1977)

Survivor (Kat Records 1983)

Passion (Tout Ensemble Records 1985)

On A Roll (Wilbe Records 1989)

Bedtime Stories (Wilbe Records 1992)

A Portrait Is Forever (Wilbe Records 2001)

New Lease Of Life (Wilbe Records 2006)

This Is Where I Live (Stax Records 2016)

One Day Closer To Home (Wilbe Records 2023)

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