THOM BELL, 1943-2022

Thom Bell, a legendary songwriter, producer and arranger, died on 12/22 at the age of 79. Bell was a key member of the team behind Philadelphia International Records and was known for his work with Cameo Records, producing some of the greatest "Philly Sound" tracks of all time, including hits for The Delfonics, The Stylistics and The Spinners. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and won a Grammy for his writing partnership with Linda Creed, producing hits such as "Betcha by Golly Wow" and "You Make Me Feel Brand New." Other notable songs he wrote include "La La Means I Love You," "I'll Be Around" and "Rubberband Man."

Bell was a classically trained musician who moved to Philadelphia as a child and sang with Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates) as a teenager. He first gained recognition as a session player and arranger for the Cameo label, where he produced Delfonics hits such as "La-La Means I Love You" and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)."

In 1971 Bell joined Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International, where he worked as an arranger for artists like Jerry Butler, Archie Bell & the Drells, The O'Jays and Dusty Springfield. He also co-founded the music publishing company Mighty Three Music with Gamble and Huff.

Bell was a successful producer in the '70s and '80s, working with artists such as The Spinners, Dionne Warwick, Johnny Mathis, Billy Paul, Ronnie Dyson, Anthony & the Imperials, New York City, Deniece Williams, James Ingram, Elton John, The Temptations, Phyllis Hyman and Dee Dee Bridgewater.

He won a Producer of the Year Grammy in 1974. In 1982, he scored a #1 R&B hit with Deniece Williams' remake of "It's Gonna Take a Miracle," and in 1990 he had a #1 Pop hit with James Ingram's "I Don't Have the Heart." His work with Elton John yielded the Top 10 1979 hit "Mama Can't Buy You Love." He briefly reunited with The Stylistics in 1981.

Gamble, Huff and Bell, the holy trinity of Philly Soul

"Tommy and I have been best friends for over 60 years," said Gamble. "When we first met, we decided to start writing songs together and form a singing duo, Kenny and Tommy, and then our band The Romeos. Leon Huff and I were proud to have him as part of our Mighty Three writing team, which helped create our signature brand of TSOP [The Sound of Philadelphia]. He was a great talent."

Said Huff, "Thom Bell was my favorite musician, arranger, songwriter and music producer of all time. It was my honor and pleasure to work with him creatively and as a business partner. Rest in peace."

“We’re deeply saddened by the passing of legendary songwriter, arranger and producer Thom Bell,” reads a quote issued by Warner Chappell Co-Chair/CEO Guy Moot and Co-Chair/COO Carianne Marshall (Warner Chappell purchased Mighty Three Music in 1990). "As the architects of Philly Soul, [Bell, Gamble and Huff] topped the charts countless times while building superstar careers and influencing generations of artists and songwriters. With a catalog spanning more than 3,500 songs, they changed the course of musical culture forever.”

"Thom has been a part of the Warner Chappell Music and Warner Music Group family for more than three decades and our entire Warner Chappell team will miss him beyond measure," the statement continues. "His extraordinary legacy will live on in the music that has filled so many of our hearts, and we will continue to celebrate Thom and share the incredible stories of his songs with the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his longstanding musical partners, Kenny and Leon."

Trio photo: Philadelphia International Records