Thom Bell died Thursday in Bellingham, Washington. He helped make the soul music style known as “The Sound of Philadelphia” in the 1960s and 1970s. No one said what killed him at age 79.
Michael Silver, who was his lawyer, confirmed that he had died. Bell, along with producers and songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, was responsible for The Sound of Philadelphia’s lush orchestrations.
Bell, Gamble, and Huff were known as “The Mighty Three.” They ran a song factory out of a building on Broad Street that ruled the charts and Top 40 of the time. Music journalist and TV host Dyanna Williams shared the news of Bell’s death on her social media accounts Thursday afternoon.
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“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.”
Nile Rogers, a producer also wrote something on Twitter about Bell’s death.
“#RIPThomBell He is one of the greatest writers and producers of all time. My condolences go out to his family and friends. He was the architect of the relationship between #BernardEdwards & me as we were the band for the group New York City (I’m Doing Fine Now) a Thom Bell smash,” Rogers wrote on Twitter.
RIP Thom Bell – one of the legends with developing Philadelphia Soul along with Bunny Sigler, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. He is known for his work the Delfonics, Stylistics and Spinners. Bell also was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. pic.twitter.com/jk817uRpvg
— Ave (@SebastianAvenue) December 22, 2022
Bell was born in Jamaica in 1943, but he moved to West Philadelphia with his family. His mother played the piano, and both his mother and father played instruments. Bell was 4 years old when he got his first drum set and he also studied classical piano.
He met Kenny Gamble at his sister’s house, and soon they were working together in a band called Kenny & the Romeos. When Bell left, Leon Huff took over the piano.
Bell worked for Chubby Checker as a staff writer and tour conductor. In 1968, he got his first job as a producer for Delfonics. He helped make “La La Means I Love You” and “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind” into hits.
It was the beginning of something great. “Back Stabbers,” the first big hit for the O’Jays in 1972 on Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International Records label, was arranged by Bell for strings.
R.I.P. Thom Bell. A mastermind behind the Sound of Philadelphia (The Delfonics, Stylistics, Spinners, and many more). 🎶🕊 pic.twitter.com/UT2hi6eE9b
— O.J. Spivey (@OJPhilly) December 22, 2022
Later, he worked with Elton John, Teddy Pendergrass, Deniece Williams, and Johnny Mathis. He also worked with Dionne Warwick, Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Dusty Springfield, David Byrne, Joss Stone, and Fatboy Slim.
In 1975, Bell was the first person to win a Grammy for “Best Producer of the Year.” This was the first time that award was given. In 1993, Thom got a star on the Walk of Fame of the Philadelphia Music Alliance. He got into the Songwriters Hall of Fame later.
Bell’s wife, Vanessa, and his six children, Royal, Troy, Tia, Mark, Cybell and Christopher, will carry on after him. No plans for a memorial have been made public… Follow us only on Lee Daily for more news like this.