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William Bell (born William Yarborough on July 16, 1939, Memphis, Tennessee) is an American soul singer and songwriter. He was one of the architects of the Stax-Volt sound, and is probably best known for his 1961 debut single, "You Don't Miss Your Water".
With Booker T. Jones, Bell wrote the song "Born Under a Bad Sign," which became a signature song for blues musician Albert King. It was later popularized by the power trio, Cream. Also, Bell's collaboration in 1968 with Judy Clay yielded the memorable hit "Private Number."
Further U.S. hits followed with "I Forgot to Be Your Lover" (1968), which was remade into a U.S. Top 10 pop hit by Billy Idol in 1986 as "To Be a Lover." It had previously been covered by Jamaican singer George Faith and was the (amended) title tune for his 1977 LP, To Be a Lover, widely regarded as a classic of its type and a big hit in the reggae charts.
In 1977, Bell topped Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart with his polyamorous soul song "Tryin' to Love Two".
Hip-hop producer The Alchemist sampled Bell's song "I Forgot to Be Your Lover" for the group Dilated Peoples in their hit track "Worst Comes to Worst." The track appears on their 2001 album, Expansion Team. Jaheim also sampled it in his song "Put That Woman First," which appears on his album Still Ghetto; and True Master used the same sample for the Killah Priest song "One Step" on the album Heavy Mental (1998). Kanye West sampled the William Bell track "Strung Out" for Cam'ron's song "Down & Out," which appeared on the Purple Haze album. Ludacris also sampled Bell's song on his single "Growing Pains," from the album Word of Mouf. Los Angeles rapper MURS furthermore used a sampled produced by 9th Wonder and used Bell's "Yesterday I Lied, Today I Cried" in his song "Yesterday & Today," released on the 2006 album Murray's Revenge.
In 1997 Bell was inducted in to the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame.
Bell's recording career extended to 2006, when his most recent LP, New Lease of Life, was released on his own Wilbe Records label.