Soul legend Al Green's sexy moaning and groaning has influenced such R&B-pop giants as Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and The Artist.
Green was born on April 13, 1946, in Forest City, Ark., where he formed a gospel group with his brothers when he was 9. The Green Brothers gigged throughout the South in the mid-'50s.
His family relocated to Grand Rapids, Mich., and Green's tastes switched to R&B music. Green's first R&B group was Al Green and the Creations later called the Soul Mates. Their first single, "Back up Train," was a #5 R&B hit.
Bandleader Willie Mitchell signed Green as a solo act to his Hi Records in 1969; Green's debut LP, Green Is Blues, followed the next year.
Critics loved Green's horn-filled rhythms and his falsetto, but the LP wasn't a blockbuster. Al Green Gets Next to You (1970) spawned his first hit, "Tired of Being Alone" (RealAudio excerpt). Three more gold singles followed.
Let's Stay Together, with its #1 title cut (RealAudio excerpt), broke Green to the masses in 1971. The following year's I'm Still in Love With You included the hit title track.
Call Me (1973) featured the smash title cut and two more top-10 hits: "Here I Am" and "Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)." While enjoying this success, Green was assaulted by an ex-girlfriend, who gave him second-degree burns by pouring boiling grits on his torso and arms. The woman then killed herself.
Green bought a church building in Memphis, Tenn., and he became a minister of the Full Gospel Tabernacle. In 1979, he was injured in a fall from a stage and announced his retirement from secular music. Green continued preaching and issued a number of gospel albums.
His most notable record appearance in the '80s was "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," a duet with Annie Lennox for the movie "Scrooged." In 1995, Green issued Your Heart's in Good Hands, an R&B LP. That same year, Green was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Other birthdays Thursday: Lester Chambers (Chambers Brothers), 60; Peabo Bryson, 49; Louis Johnson (Brothers Johnson), 45; and Wayne Lewis (Atlantic Starr), 43.