Thom Bell, a legendary pioneer of Philadelphia soul music in the 1970s, passed away on Thursday (December 22) in Bellingham, Washington. He had 79 years under his belt.
R&B radio station 105.3 WDAS-FM in Philadelphia was the first to break the news. The station’s host, Patty Jackson, paid tribute to the late record producer, arranger, and songwriter Thom Bell by saying, “We remember Thom Bell: record producer, arranger, and songwriter is known for his work with Linda Creed, Gamble, and Huff, the many hits, the creators of Philly soul.” Additionally, a video of the Stylistics’ 1972 Bell-produced hit “People Make the World Go Round” was uploaded to the station’s website as a moving and heartfelt special homage to the departed musician.
In a statement to Billboard, the attorney for Thom Bell confirmed his death and said, “Thom Bell left an unmistakable and eternal influence on the history of popular music. However, much more so, he will be remembered by those who knew him as a kind and caring friend and family man.” One of the all-time greats in the music industry has passed away.
Nile Rodgers also expressed his condolences for the loss of Thom Bell via social media, posting the hashtag “#RIPThomBell.” He is widely regarded as one of the best writers and producers in entertainment history. My deepest sympathies go out to his family and all of his friends. As we were the band for the group New York City (I’m Doing Fine Now), which was a hit for Thom Bell, he was the one who laid the groundwork for the friendship that Bernard Edwards and I have today.
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Bell, born in 1943 and studying classical music as a child, became well-known for his work with early R&B acts such as the Delfonics, the Spinners, and Deniece Williams. Bell also studied classical music as a child. Soul music classics such as “Betcha By Golly, Wow,” “You Are Everything,” “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” and “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)” were co-written by him and Linda Creed. During the latter half of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, he was also responsible for producing and co-writing several songs for a younger version of Elton John, including “Are You Ready for Love” and “Mama Can’t Buy You, Love.”
In 1975, Bell was awarded the first Grammy for Producer of the Year in the Non-Classical Recording Category. He had previously been nominated for both arranging “Betcha By Golly, Wow” by the Stylistics and co-writing “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” by the Delfonics. Both of these songs were performed by the Delfonics. In 2017, he was honored by the Recording Academy with a trustees award, which is analogous to a lifetime achievement award for individuals who do not actively participate in the music industry.
It was in 2006 when he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and it was in 2016 when he was honored into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.
His wife Vanessa and his children Royal, Troy, Tia, Mark, Cybell, and Christopher will continue after his passing.
#RIPThomBell He is one of the greatest writers and producers of all time. My condolences go out to his family and friends. He was the architect of the relationship between #BernardEdwards & me as we were the band for the group New York City (I’m Doing Fine Now) a Thom Bell smash pic.twitter.com/Q56kJlzpsU
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) December 22, 2022
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