People & Places
A Brief History
Thomas Randolph "Thom" Bell (born January 26, 1943) is a Jamaican-born American songwriter, arranger and producer, best known as one of the creators, along with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, of the Philadelphia style of soul music in the 1970s. He moved to Philadelphia as a child.
Following a stint with Gamble's group, The Romeos, Bell conducted and arranged for Chubby Checker, eventually writing for him. Later, through Cameo Records, he produced the Delfonics' classics, "La La Means I Love You" and "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time."
With Bell's collaboration with Gamble and Huff, the classic Philly Soul sound would begin to take shape. With the help of Bell's impeccable arrangements, they churned out such smash records as Jerry Butler's, "Only The Strong Survive," Billy Paul's, "Me and Mrs. Jones," and Harold Melvin & The Blues Notes classic "If You Don't Know Me By Now." With the O'Jays, they scored such classic hits like "Back Stabbers," "Love Train," and "For The Love Of Money."
In the 70's, Bell branched out on his own to produce records for Johnny Mathis, The Spinners and Deniece Williams during the early 80's.
Thom Bell was my fish store buddy. In the late 60's, Thom and I would meet about once a month or once every other week and head to Martin's Aquarium in Jenkintown, PA. Thom and I both shared the same hobby in collecting unusual fish for our fish tanks. We also shared offices in the Shubert Building, where I was on the second floor, and Thom was working out of the sixth floor with Kenny Gamble. Thom was producing The Stylistics and The Delphonics. He also was working with his great lyric writer, Linda Creed.
When Thom would finish a new track with The Stylistics, he'd stop in my office and play me the track. I remember very clearly hearing "Bet You By Golly Wow" when Thom first laid down the track. Very often we would meet in the elevator, and it was very common that Thom, Linda, Bunny Sigler, Leon Huff and myself would be chatting in front of the Shubert Building, about music most of the time.
Thom Bell is an amazing talent. He does it all. He writes it and he arranges it. A pleasure to have had him in my life.