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Al Greene was born in Forrest City, Arkansas; he later dropped the “E” from his last name when he decided to start his own solo career. His parents Robert and Cora Greene had nine other children; Green was the sixth child of the family. He started performing at the age of ten in a quartet called the Greene Brothers. The group toured around the south in the ’50s, until the family moved to Michigan. The group continued to tour around the North eventually; Greene was kicked out of the group when his father caught him listening to Jackie Wilson.
When Green entered high school, he started his own group Al Greene & the Creations. Two members of the group, Curtis Rogers and Palmer James, created their own independent label, Hot Line Music Journal, and signed Al Greene & the Creations as their first artist. Releasing Back Up Train in 1967, it reached R&B charts, eventually releasing their very first album, which did not do well in sales like the group had planned. Green eventually met Willie Mitchell and coached Green on how to find his own voice, Green left his high school group to venture off into his own solo career. He became a part of Mitchell’s record label Hi Records and recorded Green Is Blues. When it was released it became somewhat of a success, helping Green’s name get out there. He then released Al Green Gets Next to You in 1970, which included singles like “Tired of Being Alone”. His next album, Let’s Stay Together, which was released in 1972, was an even bigger success. He then later released more albums such as I’m Still in Love With You, Call Me, and Al Green Explores Your Mind.
On October 18, 1974 tragedy struck; Green’s girlfriend, Mary White, assaulted him and then committed suicide because Green refused to marry her even though she was already married. It was a wake up call for Green. Becoming a pastor at the Full Gospel Tabernacle church in Memphis in 1976, Green continued to record Gospel. He noticed that his sales started to slip and started to go in the direction of the gospel genre. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, he released many singles and a few albums and worked with Pattie Labelle. Eventually returning to the R&B genre throughout the ’80s and ’90s, he did numerous covers for movies, duets, and produced — as well as was featured on — many R&B artists singles. In 2000, Green published Take Me to the River, a book about his career, and also sang the National Anthem on the 2000 NBA All-Star Game. In 2002, Green received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The most recent appearances of Al Green were in 2009 and in 2010. In 2009, he released a version of “People Get Ready” with R&B singer Heather Headley. In 2010, he appeared on the show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and sang “Let’s Stay Together” with David Gilmour and Jools Holland.
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