In 1983 I was the tour manager and FOH sound mixer for Leon Patillo, who had just left Santana as the lead vocalist and launched out on this own career as a solo artist. We were co-billed with Al Green at a festival called the “Mud Fest” in Memphis, TN that same year.
Meeting Al Green and watching him perform at that festival was an experience I will never forget. His energy level was way over the top, matter of fact, I mistakenly thought he was high on some type of drug. But after getting to know him a little better, I learned he was just high energy and the last thing he needed was drugs to enhance his stage presence. He was an amazing singer and performer. He was actually a very dedicated and sincere preacher which he is to this day.
At the end of his show, his encore song was “Let’s Stay Together”. a song he had written in 1971 and was released on his 1972 record by the same name. For you familiar with the song, you probably remember when it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the chart for 16 weeks and it also topped Billboard’s R&B chart for nine weeks. Billboard ranked it as the No. 11 song of 1972.
It was ranked the 60th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
One of the things that always impressed me about Al is that he found a beautiful balance between his spiritual calling and Gospel and “secular” music.
Al is 70 years old now, but still writing and producing music, I run into him every so often at a popular recording studio just outside Nashville, he seems to have that same zest for life that he had back in the day.
“Let’s Stay Together” was later covered by a number of artists, including Tina Turner. It served as her comeback single in late 1983. She followed that up with the Private Dancer record May 29, 1984.