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William Bell

A principal architect of the Stax/Volt sound, singer/composer William Bell remains best known for his classic "You Don't Miss Your Water," one of the quintessential soul records to emerge from the Memphis scene. Born William Yarborough on July 16, 1939, he cut his teeth backing Rufus Thomas, and in 1957 recorded his first sides as a member of the Del Rios. After joining the Stax staff as a writer, Bell made his solo debut in 1961 with the self-penned "You Don't Miss Your Water," an archetypal slice of country-soul and one of the label's first big hits. A two-year Armed Forces stint effectively derailed his career, however, and he did not release his first full-length album, The Soul of a Bell, until 1967, generating a Top 20 hit with the single "Everybody Loves a Winner." That same year, Albert King also scored with another classic Bell composition, the oft-covered "Born Under a Bad Sign."

Bell's next solo hit, 1968's "A Tribute to a King," was a poignant farewell to the late Otis Redding; the R&B Top Ten hit "I Forgot to Be Your Lover" soon followed, and a series of duets with Judy Clay, most notably "Private Number," also earned airplay. In 1969, he relocated to Atlanta and set up his own label, Peachtree. The hits dried up as the next decade dawned, but in 1977, Bell capped a major comeback with "Trying to Love Two," which topped the R&B charts. In 1985, he founded another label, Wilbe, and issued Passion, which found its most receptive audiences in the U.K. (although "I Don't Want to Wake Up Feeling Guilty," a duet with Janice Bullock, was a minor U.S. hit).

Bell was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1987, and that same year saw him receiving the Rhythm & Blues Foundation's R&B Pioneer Award. He continued to release LPs, including 1989's On a Roll and 1992's Bedtime Stories. Starting in 1992, Bell took a lengthy hiatus from the recording studio, though he still performed regularly. In 2000, he released an album of all-new material on Wilbe entitled A Portrait Is Forever and followed it six years later with New Lease on Life. In between those releases, he was honored with the 2003 W.C. Handy Heritage Award. In 2016, Bell teamed with the reactivated Stax Records label to release a new album. Produced by John Leventhal, This Is Where I Live featured Bell performing a batch of new songs, along with a fresh recording of "Born Under a Bad Sign." ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Very Best Of William Bell

1. You Don't Miss Your Water

2. Any Other Way

3. Share What You Got (But Keep What You Need)

4. Never Like This Before

5. Everybody Loves A Winner

6. Eloise (Hang On In There)

7. Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday

8. Tribute To A King

9. Every Man Oughta Have A Woman

10. Private Number (With Judy Clay)

11. I Forgot To Be Your Lover

12. My Baby Specializes (With Judy Clay)

13. My Whole World Is Falling Down

14. Happy

15. Born Under A Bad Sign

16. All For The Love Of A Woman

17. Save Us

18. Lovin' On Borrowed Time

19. I've Got To Go On Without You

20. Gettin' What You Want (Losin' What You Got)

x

Track List: William Bell Collector's Edition Greatrest Hits

1. Tryin' To Love Two

2. You Don't Miss Your Water

3. Private Number/ Duet With Rubi Burt

4. Everybody Loves A Winner

5. I Forgot To Be Your Lover

6. Happy

7. Eloise (Hang On In There)

8. Tribute To A King

9. Any Other Way

10. Lovin' On Borrowed Time

11. Easy Comin Out ( Hard Goin In )

12. I Don;T Want To Wake Up (Feelin Guillty)

13. Everyday Will Be A Holiday

14. Born Under A Bad Sign

x

Track List: The Soul Of A Bell

1. Everybody Loves A Winner

2. You Don't Miss Your Water

3. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man

4. I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)

5. Nothing Takes The Place Of You

6. Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye

7. Eloise (Hang On In There)

8. Any Other Way

9. It's Happening All Over

10. Never Like This Before

11. You're Such A Sweet Thing

x

Track List: The Three Of Me (Single)

1. The Three Of Me

x

Track List: This Is Where I Live

1. The House Always Wins

2. Poison In The Well

3. I Will Take Care Of You

4. Born Under A Bad Sign

5. All Your Stories

6. Walking On A Tightrope

7. More Rooms

8. All The Things You Can't Remember

9. Mississippi-Arkansas Bridge

10. People Want To Go Home

x

Track List: This Is Where I Live (Single)

1. This Is Where I Live

Comments

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Saw William Bell at a tribute to Memphis soul on PBS, singing you don't miss your water, til your well runs dry in 2013. He still has that strong voice.
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Is okay, baby. I still love you
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Sing babeee
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I,forgot.??
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He forgot to be my lover and now he's long gone.
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GREAT SONG.
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Merry, Christmas pandora..... . * *
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True,
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Now,that s what I am talking about.thanks pandora...,.
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Love his music i.long for the good old days and this music
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"I'm sorry baby.....
I forgot to be your lover....
I'll make it up to you somehow....
Just hold on a little bit longer".....
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This song makes me want to slow dance
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STILL HOLDS A SPECIAL MEANING IN MY HEART ALBERT
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His music takes me back to the days when life was so good.
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I've Got 2 Go On Without u!
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These you young kids don't about that
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William Bell is the man loving his music
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regaldb
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will see die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is soscary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in bug letters this is so scary because it actually works.
Report as inappropriate
@jackhunt 17177 it is not stealing when you get permission from aN ARTIST OR OWNERS WHOM HAVE RIGHTS TO MUSIC, it's called REMAKE . Jahem did his version HIS WAY it it it's wonderful. both are classics and done very well
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Sing it. Mr. Bel
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Wow!!! I like this
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kebris.mille r
I love William Bell, He's one of the greatest R&B singers of all time
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Ja hem stole that one
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Sang it nothing. Stays the same
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Loving on borrowed(mem o r i e s )
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Mr. Bell ur the man.
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William bell is one of a kind.
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love it
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Explain it so they will know how they should say it William Bell!
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This music take me back, and remind me of all the good times I had, will forever love it.
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Love this music there nothing like old school people we have got to get back to this real music
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W. Bell you sound so good singing this sing. Brings back so many Memories.
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lljgrant
Learn from ur mistakes...F o r g o t to b her LOVER...WOW
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A major part of my teen years ( blue lights in the basement!) were spent grooving, listening, dancing and falling in/out of love with this music as the backdrop. Good music ALWAYS lives on.
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get big music like this take you back djlove06 make get on yopur feert
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pam.watson8
Classic old school soul!
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fonnyl
I can't see this name without thinking of Leonard Nimoy.
Report as inappropriate
Love William Bell,my first real love,mailed me a letter saying "You Don't
Miss Your Water Until Your Well Runs Dry",after our breakup.I wouldn't take him back!!!!!!
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I had completely stopped listening to old school, new school music,but browsing on this website brought me to a place into yesterday! I'm o.k. with this, I just can't forget my firs love.
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I Love Mr. Bell's music, I can relate to what he was trying to say, cause trying to love too sho aint easy toooo do.
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srpeppers
This music today can't touch the old school music. Old school music contains meaning and it was something that the person singing could actually relate to. I love my old school and very seldom listen to the radio in my car.
Report as inappropriate
When I heard the song "I forgot to be your lover"; I tried to remember who did the remake - it was Jaheim. Jaheim is an awesome singer; but he could not hold a candle to Mr. Bell's original version.
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Cool ole school.
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That was fat!!
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I have always loved my old school music.Our song have so much deep feelings reminds you of a love affair or a relationship and the love a man an woman felt deep down in their soul. Some of the younger artist do they best and some are not too,too bad but Johnny Taylor Tryone Davis Bobby Blue Bland just to name a few Will clayton is new to me I do not remember him and he is good too. I love his remake of simply beautiful.Oh
I almost for for about Curtis Mayflied The making of you.Then you have
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Do the damn thing Bell nobody can do it like you do. hoping to reach one of your concerts real soon.
Report as inappropriate
i really like Bell's music, i have seen in concert several times at my cousins club in Warren county NC, he is still a great singer
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Why did it take me so long to learn about him? Such a voice, and such a fantastic songwriter.
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Lonnie coleman you don't miss your water until the well runs dry 9-03-08
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rayfordnewet t
greatest hit, everybody loves a winner.
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