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UNITED STATES | THOM Bell, Jamaican-American Music Producer

WASHINGTON,  DC, January 31, 2020 - It is said that if one looks at any field in almost any country in the world, you can find an influential Jamaican somewhere in the system.

This includes running the gamut from the White House in the United States, to as far as Russia, Australia and Europe. They can be found in politics, Law, medicine, the sciences, the Arts and of course, sports.

Last week, I was surprised by a little-known fact: that Thom Bell, the legendary songwriter and record producer, was born Thomas Randolph Bell, 77 years ago on the 26th of January 1943, in Kingston Jamaica.

All this time, it had not occurred to me that Thom Bell, whose name was a staple on many record labels as songwriter and producer, was a Brethren from ‘The Rock’ who grew up in Philadelphia.

Bell, classically trained as a musician, moved to Philadelphia as a child, and as a teenager sang with Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates fame).

He is noted as one of the creators of Philadelphia Soul in the 1970s. Back in the day, his compositions for the Delfonics, Stylistics, Ronnie Dyson, and the Spinners were the staple of our high school fetes; we didn't know he was Jamaican.

His best compositions read like a top ten of our teenage romantic angst: ‘La-La (Means I Love You)’ by The Delfonics (1968); ‘Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)’ by The Delfonics (1969);

‘Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)’ by The Stylistics (1971);‘You Are Everything’ by The Stylistics (1971);‘Betcha by Golly, Wow’ by The Stylistics (1972);‘I’ll Be Around’ by The Spinners (1972);‘I’m Stone in Love with You’ by The Stylistics (1972);‘Break Up to Make Up’ by The Stylistics (1973);‘You Make Me Feel Brand New’ by The Stylistics (1974), and ‘The Rubber band Man’ by The Spinners (1976).

In addition, Bell produced ‘Could It Be I’m Falling in Love’ and ‘Games People Play’ for The Spinners; Ronnie Dyson’s ‘Just Don’t Wanna Be Lonely’; Dionne Warwick’s ‘Track of the Cat’ album; James Ingram’s ‘I Don’t Have the Heart’ (1990), and Elton John’s ‘The Thom Bell Sessions’ EP; Deniece Williams, “Silly” in 1981 and "It's Gonna Take a Miracle" in 1982.

Mr. Bell the recipient of a Grammy Trustees Award, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006 and today, he is more or less retireed from the music business. He has handed over his gold records, old photographs with all those whom he has made famous, his grammys, trophies, and  music memorabilia to his children and grandchildren.

The indefatiguable Thom Bell now finds solace in being a chef at his Mediterranean-style home on a wooded three acre property overlooking Bellingham Bay, Washington, approximaterly 30 miles from the Canadian border.

At his Bellingham retreat built in 2000, where he lives with his wife Vanessa, Bell has traded in his over forty-odd gold and platinum records for  cook books on Asiatic and exotic cuisines and a quiet life.

Bellingham is a coastal city in Washington State, near the Canadian border. It’s a port for ferries to Alaska and has earned the moniker of one of the most liberal cities in the United States.

Perhaps, in much the same way that we have honoured Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Cliff and other Caribbean artistes for their contribution to the music and the promotion of the Caribbean, there is no doubt that Mr. Thom Bell could be added to this august group.


Last modified onSaturday, 01 February 2020 15:22
  • Countries: Jamaica
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