Thom Bell, who along with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, created The Sound of Philadelphia, which attained global fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s, died at the age of 79 on Thursday.
The cause of death of the Grammy-winning record producer and songwriter was not immediately known.
Michael Silver, Bell’s lawyer provided a statement confirming his death in Bellingham, Washington. The news of his demise was also reported by Dyanna Williams, a longtime music journalist and broadcast personality.
“Beloved songwriter arranger, producer Thomas aka Randolph Bell aka Thom Bell, co-architect of The Sound of Philadelphia with Gamble & Huff. Soundtrack to our lives music The Delfonics The Stylistics The Spinners Deniece Williams Dionne Warwick Johnny Mathis has transitioned,” Dyanna Williams posted Thursday afternoon on Twitter. She also posted the news on Instagram.
Who was Thom Bell?
Thom bell was a Jamaican-born record producer, arranger, and songwriter. His claim to fame was his success with the Philadelphia sound in the 1970s, mainly with the Delfonics, Stylistics and Spinners.
Bell’s first big break came with Cameo Records in Philadelphia where he worked as a session player and arranger. In 1967, he was introduced to a local group called The Delfonics. He produced two singles for them on the subsidiary label, Moonglow. His hit Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1970.
In 1971, Bell moved on to produce another local group, The Stylistics, on Avco Records. He teamed up with the Philadelphia-born songwriter, Linda Creed and Russell Thompkins, Jr., the lead singer of the Stylistics. The trio generated three albums with superhit tracks. In fact, Bell and Creed became among the most famous songwriting teams, penning hits such as Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart), You Are Everything, and Betcha by Golly, Wow.
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Bell was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June 2006. In 2016, Bell was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.
In a 2021 interview with Consequence, Bell reflected on his style, saying, “When I write, I make sure that my introductions grab you from the first note. I write to grab you; to give you my true feelings. I don’t want to tell you a love story and only tell you part of a love story. I want to give a complete story. That’s how can always tell one of my arrangements.”