Al Bell received the highest honor the recorded music industry offers: the 2011 Prestigious Grammy Trustees Award, presented by the Board of Trustees of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). This award was given in recognition of Mr. Bell’s lifetime of influence, achievement, and success in his pursuit of musical excellence, as demonstrated through the creation, development, and successful marketing of “rare performing artists” that recorded “unique music art” and who with “passion and emotion” interacted with and entertained their audiences with a standard of excellence that classified them as entertainment icons. This is considered a noble achievement by Al Bell in the recorded music and entertainment Industries.
Throughout his career, Al Bell has been considered a visionary, a seer, an icon, a “music mogul,” and a communications and entertainment “maverick.” Perhaps the word that sums this all up best is “legend,” which is how most people throughout industry view him today. Mr. Bell attained this status of legend because, at every turn of events within the recorded music industry, and in the many facets of the businesses in which he has been involved, he always has been way ahead of his time. Also, because of his ability to see things that others cannot – and his intuitive capacity (and the guts) to act on what he sees – Mr. Bell has always been far ahead of his competitors, as well.
In the 1970’s, two of the largest African-American owned businesses in America were Motown Records and Stax Records. Al Bell is the former owner of Stax Records and the President of all divisions of the Motown Records Groups.
During his years as head of Stax Records, Al Bell introduced marketing and promotional innovations, which changed the direction of the nation’s music industry. Stax produced gold and platinum hits on such varied artists as Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Johnny Taylor, Sam And Dave, Booker T and the MG’s, the Bar Kays, Otis Redding, The Emotions, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Billy Eckstine, Albert King, The Dramatics and a host of others.
Stax Records worked with Melvin Van Peebles on the release of his revolutionary film “Sweetback” and with MGM Studios on the release of the film “Shaft,” demonstrating marketing and promotional techniques that woke the film industry to the potential in the black marketplace and led to the black film renaissance of the 1970s.
Al Bell successfully marketed the theme from “Shaft” performed by Isaac Hayes to the revered winner’s circle of the Motion Picture Industry’s Academy Awards and secured an “Oscar Award” for the Best Original Song with Hayes becoming the first African American to win that honor (or any other Academy Award in a non-acting category).
Al Bell added to the roster of box office hits with the landmark 1973 film “Wattstax,” a documentary based on a Stax Records concert that entertained 112,000 people, in the Los Angeles stadium, from Los Angeles and Watts. This was the largest musical event ever presented to Black America.
In the 1980s, Al Bell became head of the Motown Records Group and worked with Berry Gordy in the sale of Motown to the MCA/Boston Ventures Group. After Motown, he discovered the music group Tag Team and released “Whoomp! There It Is” which sold over 5,000,000 single units. This record is one of the biggest-selling singles in the history of the music industry.
Al Bell was asked by the artist “Prince” to release a single record for him, after his label Warner Brothers Records turned him down. Using his unique style of marketing and promotion, Al Bell released “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” and gave Prince his biggest-selling single ever.
In the recently published book by Rob Bowman chronicling the history of Stax Records titled “Soulsville USA: The Stax Records Story,” Jesse Jackson is quoted saying that, “Stax was not just a record company. It was a sound. It was a piece of culture. It was a moment of conscience and experience of mankind. At the right time, it meant a lot to us. People still heavily borrow upon the tradition of Stax and the lineage laid down by the very special genius of Al Bell.”
Over the years, Al Bell has received a vast body of honors and awards, including the NAACP Founder’s Award. He has been listed in “Who’s Who in Black America” and “Who’s Who in the World,” and was honored by Black Enterprise Magazine in 1972 and 1973 as one of the Top 100 Black Owned Businesses (#2) in recognition for Stax Records. He also was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Black Men by Ebony Magazine in 1972, as well as one of the Top 1000 Most Successful Black Men in the World, by Ebony Magazine in 1973. He has earned the National Award of Achievement from U.S. Department of Commerce, received an Achievement Award from the Boy Scouts of America in 1975, received the “Roots Award” from the Greater Washington, DC Business Center in 1977, and was given the W. C Handy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. In 2002 he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, received two Honorary Doctorates (PhDs) from Philander Smith College in 1972 and 2011, and – as noted above – received the Grammy Trustee Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2011.
ST? Tell us how you fell about working with Mr. Bell
Looze:Well its a honor to work with a man that has such a rich music history i have been doing music from the time i was a child and now it seems like my dream is just now coming to life.
ST? How did you meet Mr. Al Bell
Looze: My father has been in business with him for years Mr.Bell gave my dad his first record deal for his Streetnoise record label so i’v known him all my life its funny to me that my dad started with this guy some 20 Years ago now i find myself going up the same road i guess karma is real lol.
ST? what kind of record deal do you have.
Looze:Well as you know the music bizz has changed so much over the years i would not go into a record deal the why most artist do i am in business with Al Bell Presents LLC. as a partner its not just about selling records and downloads it’s more about concert and t’shirts caps perfume and whatever else we can sell so we are 50/50 partners with my company Gwalla Gang Music LL.
ST? So when will the first album come out
Looze: I’m working as hard as i can along with my team to get done with the record but i also have a day job at a Museum so on the real we should drop the first single this summer.
ST? Well we would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
Looze: Ok anytime i love to talk music its my first love and she understands me and i her!!!! Lol its been real see you!
ST:Good luck Looze.