Thom Bell, key character of The Sound of Philadelphia, has died at the age of 79

In the music industry, he was one of the people who moved the world.

Thom Bell, the Jamaican-born, Philadelphia-raised songwriter, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and record producer, died Thursday at his home in Bellingham, Washington, after a long illness, his wife said. Bell is considered one of the architects of the Philly Soul style (also known as the Sound of Philadelphia). Mixing lush orchestral strings with funky R&B, the Grammy-winning artist has worked with the likes of The Spinners, The Delfonics, Dusty Springfield, The O’Jays, Dionne Warwick, Elton-John, and many others. He was 79 years old.

Bell was a classically trained pianist who studied under the National Medal of Arts winner Andre Wattsand was part of a singing group as a teenager Kenny Gamble and Leon Hoof. Later mythologized by Philly Soul fans as The Mighty Three, the trio formed Philadelphia International Records in 1971. (Another early friend was Daryl Halllater by Hall & Oates, one of the biggest acts of so-called “blue-eyed soul”.)

One of Bell’s first hits was 1968’s “La-La (Means I Love You)” by the Delfonics, which he co-wrote, co-produced and arranged. Its blend of a cascading, instantly recognizable melody set against a luxurious string bed and a crisp snare drum is a perfect example of the Sound of Philadelphia.


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Unexpected instrumentation was a Thom Bell specialty, such as the oboe introduction to “Betcha By Golly, Wow,” a 1972 Stylistics hit, which Bell produced and co-wrote with lyricist Linda Creed, sometimes credited as Linda Epstein Has. Speaking to NPR Terry Gross Last year, Bell noted that there was initially some resistance to the lengthy introduction to this tune. “I’ve heard a lot of people say, black people don’t want to hear this, and black people don’t, and black people don’t. This is a misunderstanding. And these were black people telling me they don’t listen to that kind of music. man I’m not interested. I didn’t believe that. It sounded good to me,” he said.

It sold over a million copies. Thom Bell, key character of The Sound of Philadelphia, has died at the age of 79

Charles Jones

Charles Jones is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Charles Jones joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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