William Bell receives Brass Note on Beale Street

Posted on 8/09/2010 by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

(Memphis, Tennessee) As reported earlier at the American Blues News, we enjoyed the company of William Bell during a recent Reba Russell Band performance in Atlanta at Blind Willie's. On Thursday August 4, 2010, William Bell returned to Memphis to receive his brass note on Beale Street.

Charles Mitchell of Jus Blues Foundation, William Bell, Bobby Rush

Among a throng of musicians and dignitaries, Bell received the award in front of the famous Old Daisy Theater on Beale. Photos from facebook by Beale Street, Memphis.

Eddie Floyd, Bobby Rush, Chas. Mitchell, William Bell, Latimore, Marvell Thomas

A famous performer and songwriter for STAX Records in Memphis, William Bell now owns Wilbe Records and lives in Atlanta. He has released over 15 albums under his own name and
with Booker T. Jones co-wrote "Born Under a Bad Sign" for STAX artist Albert King. Bell is famous for writing and performing "You Don't Miss your Water" which he wrote and performed on STAX in 1961.

What a performance by William Bell and Marvell Thomas.

Please check out this video of the beautiful gospel keyboard work of my friend, Marvell Thomas, accompanying William Bell on his 1961 STAX hit. It makes me proud to be a Memphian to watch this. These two gents are spectacular talents and are seriously under-appreciated by history.

Marvell Thomas sits next to Teeny Hodges at the funeral service of Willie Mitchell
photograph copyright Robert Tooms

As a a bit of background, Marvell is the brother of Carla Thomas who, at fifteen years of age, wrote and performed the hit "Gee Whiz" on the STAX label. Marvell and Carla are the children of the late Rufus Thomas who in 1953 recorded "Bear Cat," the first hit record released by Sam Phillips fledgling SUN label. This recording was an answer to Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog" which was a big hit for Memphis' Peacock label. The Reba Russell Band had the extreme honor of not only backing up Rufus at B.B. King's but also playing Rufus' birthday party on Beale Street at the old Black Diamond Club. that party was attended by both Marvell and Carla, two shining stars in their own right. Rufus Thomas' passing met with great sorrow from our city's citizens. He was a local hero.

I first met Marvell Thomas in the early 1980's when he sat in on my old Wurlitzer model 200 electric piano during a gig that I played with my band and the late, great Earl Forest, recording artist and engineer for Duke records. Read last week's article on the death of Johnny Ace for more information about the Duke and Peacock labels. Just click here:

William Bell and Reba Russell

William Bell, who was born in Memphis, took the last name "Bell" as a stage name in honor of his grandmother, whose first name was Belle. Bell continued to record for Stax through the label's dissolution in 1975, with modest commercial success. He then switched to Mercury, and in 1977 Bell's soul song "Tryin' to Love Two" topped Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart.

Among the musicians present were Barbara Blue, Teeny Hodges, Benny Latimore,, Marvell Thomas, Bobby Rush and Eddie Floyd who was also honored this year by Charles Mitchell and the Jus Blues Music foundation.

The Jus' Blues Music Awards took place August 4th and 5th at the historical Old Daisy Theater, 329 Beale Street, in Memphis. An outdoor concert by William Bell was performed on August 7 at Handy Park, 203 Beale Street.

Here's a list of their 2010 nominees:

Contemporary Blues Artist – Male

  • Super Chikan
  • Stevie J
  • John Primer
  • Kenny Neal
  • Wes Mackey
  • Grady Champion
  • Mud Morganfield

Contemporary Blues Artist – Female

  • Zakiya Hooker
  • Zora Young
  • Beverly "Guitar" Watkins
  • Shemekia Copeland
  • Sandra Hall
  • B. B. Queen
  • Tia Carroll

The 10th anniversary of the Jus Blues Music Foundation was celebrated August 4 at the Night of the Living Legends Dinner in the Daisy Theater. The night featured a musical tribute to blues legend Albert King, and celebrated the 2010 Honorees: Eddie Floyd, Toni Green, William Bell, Mable John, Chick Willis, and Randy Weston.

On August 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the "Blues Got a Soul" conference took place at The Westin Memphis Hotel. Later that evening the Jus' Blues Music Awards took place back at the Daisy Theater.

Bobby Rush performs at Bobby Blue Bland's 80th Birthday this year
photograph copyright Robert Tooms

American Blues News also learned that Bobby Rush will be playing a benefit concert in Handy Park on Beale Street on October 9, 2010, to honor American veterans. After traveling to entertain troops in Iraq Rush was moved to honor the troops at this upcoming performance.

William Bell Discography

You don't miss your water / Formula of love - Stax 116 * 1961

Just across the street / There's a love - Stax 125 * 1962

by the Del Rios; William Bell lead vocals on the flip.

Any other way / Please help me, I'm falling - Stax 128 * 1962

I told you so / What'cha gonna do - Stax 132 * 1963

Just as i thought / I'm waiting on you - Stax 135 *1963

Somebody mentioned your name / What can I do to forget - Stax 138 * 1963

I'll show you / Monkeying around - Stax 141 * 1964

Who will it be tomorrow / Don't make something out of nothing - Stax 146 * 1964

Crying all by myself / Don't stop now - Stax 174 * 1965

Share what you got (But keep what you need) / Marching off to war - Stax 191 * 1966

Never like this before / Soldier's goodbye - Stax 199 * 1966

Everybody loves a winner / (You're such a) Sweet thang - Stax 212 * 1967

Eloise (hang on in there) / One plus one - Stax 227 * 1967

Everyday will be like a holiday / Ain't got no girl - Stax 237 * 1967

A tribute to a king / Every man oughta have a woman - Stax 248 * 1968

Private number / Love-eye-tis (With judy Clay) - Stax 0005 * 1968

I forgot to be your lover / Bring the curtain down - Stax 0015 * 1968

My baby specialises / Left over love (with Judy Clay) - Stax 0017 * 1968

All god's children got soul / My whole world is falling down - Stax 0032 * 1969

Soul-a-lujah pt. 1 / pt. 2 - Stax 0040 * 1969

vocals by Wm. Bell with six other Stax artists

Love's sweet sensation / Strung out - Stax 0043 * 1969

duets with Mavis Staples

I need you woman / I can't stop - Stax 0044 * 1969

dueta with Carla Thomas

Born under a bad sign / a smile can't hide (a broken heart) - Stax 0054 * 1969

Leave the girl alone / All I have to do is dream - Stax 0067 * 1970

duets with Mavis Staples / with Carla Thomas

Lonely soldier / Let me ride - Stax 0070 * 1970

A Penny for your thoughts / Till my back ain't got no bone - Stax 0092 * 1971

All the love of a woman / ? - Stax 0106 * 1971

Save us / If you really love him - Stax 0128 * 1972

Lovin' on borrowed time / The man in the street - Stax 0157 * 1973

I've got to go on without you / You're the kind of love I need - Stax 0175 * 1973

Gettin' what you want / All I need is your love - Stax 0198 * 1974

Get it while it's hot / Nobody walks away from love unhurt - Stax 0221 * 1975


  • 1967 The Soul of a Bell - Stax 709
  • 1969 Bound to Happen - Stax 2014
  • 1971 Wow ...William Bell - Stax 2037
  • 1972 Phases of Reality - Stax 3005
  • 1973 Waiting for William Bell - Stax 3012
  • 1974 Relating - Stax 5502
  • 1977 Comin' Back for More - Mercury
  • 1977 It's Time You Took Another Listen - Mercury
  • 1983 Survivor - Kat Family
  • 1985 Passion - Wilbe
  • 1989 On a Roll - Wilbe
  • 1992 Bedtime Stories - Wilbe
  • 2001 A Portrait Is Forever - Wilbe
  • 2002 Collectors Edition - Wilbe
  • 2006 New Lease On Life - Wilbe

© Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms, 2010

American Blues News Staff

What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

Mon: Memphis Correspondent - Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
Nighthawk is our resident globetrotter and man behind the scenes, as he tours with the Reba Russell Band.

Tues: New York Correspondent - J. Blake
Blake is the American Blues News review and interview guru. You may catch him out and about in NY playing the blues.

Wed: National Correspondent - Monica Yasher
Monica is our executive director and artist interview specialist. You can catch Monica singing the blues around Pittsburgh or working on some country music songs in Nashville.

Thurs: Washington, DC Correspondent - Virginiabluesman
Geraldo offers inteviews and reviews. You may have seen him at an Ana Popovic concert or conversed with him on her websites, as he offers administrative support with her music.

Fri: Northeast Photographer - Nelson Onofre
Nelson offers a Friday column of blues photography and pictorial support for the interviews covered by the team.

Jim Stick in Colorado
Jim will be focusing on the Blues Festivals in the beautiful state of Colorado, and the artists that live and visit there.

Maureen Elizabeth, our resident art correspondent, will be focusing on blues art as she explores the creation of CD covers, or speaking with artists who also have a love of creating pictorial art in addition to their music! She may also feature some of her good friends in the Pittsburgh area. In her love of art, you may find Maureen's photography accompanying writer's articles on our pages. Maureen is also our marketing director.

Pittsburgh correspondent and photographer, CR Bennett, will share the Pittsburgh scene with all of you. You may also see CR's pictures accompanying other writer's articles.

We head to the big state of Texas! Abby Owen, our Texas correspondent.

Another big area to cover, the West Coast with Casey Reagan, Casey will feature many artists and events on this ocean's shores.

Lastly, we have our roving blues entertainment writer,
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