Legendary soul producer Thom Bell has died

The producer and songwriter helped pioneer the iconic sounds of the 70s Philadelphia soul scene.

Thom Bell

Image: L. Busacca / Getty

Thom Bell, a legendary soul producer and songwriter, has sadly died aged 79.

He died yesterday (Thursday 22 December) in Bellingham, Washington in the US. No cause of his death has been given.

The Jamaican-born creative helped pioneer the “Philly” soul sounds of the 1970s – he was behind hits such as La-La Means I Love You and Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) by The Delfonics, Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart) from The Stylistics, The Spinners’ The Rubberband Man and even Mama Can’t Buy You Love by Elton John.

Bell was also known for working alongside Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff in a trio known as “The Mighty Three”, where he was credited for co-creating “The Sound of Philadelphia”. The three friends founded Philadelphia International Records together in 1971.

Both Gamble and Huff have paid tribute to their dear friend and fellow creative in a statement released by Rolling Stone: “Tommy and I have been best friends for over 60 years,” Gamble shared. “Leon Huff and I were proud to have him as part of our Mighty Three music writing team, which helped create our signature brand of TSOP. He was a great talent and my dear friend. The name of Gamble Huff and Bell will last forever. Rest in peace buddy!”

Huff also gave his own statement where he added: “Thom Bell was my favourite musician, arranger, songwriter, and music producer of all time. It was my esteemed honour and pleasure to work with him creatively and as a business partner. Rest in peace.”

During Bell’s esteemed career, he was awarded Producer of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 1975, and was honoured by the Recording Academy at the Grammy Salute To Music Legends in 2017. In 2006, he was even inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

Tributes have began pouring in for Bell, some of which you can read below:

Our thoughts are with the family, friends, and fans of Thom Bell.

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